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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak posts ridership record in FY2012


In fiscal-year 2012, Amtrak ridership totaled 31.2 million passengers — a 3.5 percent increase compared with FY2011 and the highest passenger count in the railroad's history and ninth ridership record in the past 10 years, according to a press release.

For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, ridership on the Northeast Corridor rose 4.8 percent to a record 11.4 million, state-supported and other short-distance routes increased 2.1 percent to a record 15.1 million and long-distance routes grew 4.7 percent to 4.7 million. Twenty-five of Amtrak's 44 services posted ridership records, according to a prepared statement.

For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, ticket revenue rose 6.8 percent to a best-ever $2.02 billion and system-wide on-time performance jumped from 78.1 percent in FY2011 to 83 percent in FY2012, the highest figure in 12 years, Amtrak officials said.

Northeast Regional service ridership rose 6.6 percent to a record 8 million passengers and Acela Express ridership increased 0.5 percent to nearly 3.4 million.

Ridership gains on other Northeast services included: Keystone Corridor, up 5.8 percent to a record 1.4 million; Downeaster, up 4.3 percent to 541,000; Adirondack, up 5.3 percent to 132,000; Ethan Allen, up 10 percent to 54,000; Vermonter, up 5.5 percent to 82,000; Empire Service, up 3.8 percent to 1.06 million; and Pennsylvanian, 2.2 percent to 212,000.

Virginia's Washington, D.C.-to-Lynchburg service posted a ridership spike of 14.1 percent to a new record of 185,000, and the Washington, D.C.-to-Newport News service jumped 11.9 percent to a record 624,000. In North Carolina, the Piedmont service set a record of 162,00 passengers, up 16.2 percent year over year.

In the Midwest, ridership on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, which accommodates Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains, jumped 11 percent to a record 675,000 passengers. Other Midwestern routes that set records were: Hiawatha, up 2.3 percent to 838,000; Missouri River Runner, up 5.3 percent to 196,000; and Blue Water, up 1.1 percent to 189,000.

Ridership on California's San Joaquin route increased 7.2 percent to a record 1.1 million passengers and Capital Corridor passenger counts rose 2.2 percent to a record 1.75 million riders.

Meanwhile, all of Amtrak's 15 long-distance routes posted gains, resulting in their best combined ridership performance in 19 years, according to Amtrak. The Lake Shore Limited, Texas Eagle and City of New Orleans registered ridership records, while the Empire Builder, Coast Starlight and Cardinal services posted "significant percentage growth," according to Amtrak.

Amtrak officials expect ridership growth to continue into FY2013. Ridership numbers will get an early boost when the expanded Downeaster service to Freeport and Brunswick launches Nov. 1, and the Amtrak Virginia Northeast Regional service is extended to Norfolk starting Dec. 12.

Long-term factors that will contribute to continued ridership growth include improved services such as Wi-Fi and eTicketing, high gasoline prices, business travel growth on the Northeast Corridor, growing highway congestion and air travel delays, Amtrak said.

Since 2000, Amtrak ridership has jumped 49 percent.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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