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Rail News: Amtrak

May marked 19 consecutive months of Amtrak ridership growth


Amtrak ridership rose 6.7 percent during the first eight months of fiscal-year 2011 compared with the same period in FY2010. May ridership reached a record 2.6 million, marking the 19th straight month of growth, Amtrak officials said in a prepared statement.

All three major corridors posted gains in May: Northeast Corridor (NEC) ridership increased 5.3 percent; state-supported and other short-distance corridor ridership surged 8.2 percent; and long-distance train ridership rose 5.5 percent.

On the NEC, ridership for the high-speed Acela Express rose 5 percent in May 2011 vs. May 2010. In addition, the Northeast Regional service carried 693,268 riders, up 10 percent year over year. Amtrak’s ridership on the state-supported Ethan Allen line from New York City to Rutland, Vt., soared 25 percent, while the Adirondack line from New York City to Montreal posted a 21 percent gain. The Virginia routes also transported more riders in May: the Washington, D.C.-to-Lynchburg line climbed 43 percent and the D.C.-to-Newport News line surged 33 percent.

In the busiest corridor in the Chicago hub, ridership on the Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee rose 6.7 percent.

Ridership also continued to rise on all three of the California state-supported routes. The Capitol Corridor’s ridership jumped 9.7 percent; the San Joaquin’s climbed 12.8 percent; and the Pacific Surfliner’s increased 4.3 percent. In addition, ridership on the Amtrak Cascades, which runs between Eugene, Ore., Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., rose 6.5 percent.

“Factors contributing to the [gains] include high gasoline prices, which have trended higher, continued growth in business travel on the high-speed Acela Express trains with Wi-Fi service, the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel, and effective marketing campaigns,” Amtrak officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/9/2011