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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Amtrak's Lynchburg service surpasses ridership, revenue goals


During its first year of operation, Amtrak's Lynchburg train exceeded annual ridership and revenue targets.

The route provides a daily service from Lynchurg, Va., on the I-81/Route 29 corridor to Washington, D.C., and as far north as Boston. Amtrak and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) launched service on the corridor in October 2009.

During fiscal-year 2010, which ended Sept. 30, the Lynchburg train carried 126,072 passengers, exceeding its goal of 51,000 riders by 147.2 percent. The service also generated $6.33 million in revenue, well surpassing its $2.58 million goal.

The Lynchburg train is the best-performing state-supported train in Amtrak's system in terms of cost recovery,  said Jay McArthur, principal officer in Amtrak's Policy & Development Department, in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, Amtrak and the Virginia DRPT launched service on a new Richmond service in July. The train operates daily between Richmond and Washington, D.C., and points north along the Northeast Corridor. That route has  experienced  promising success during its first months of operation,  according to Amtrak.

During the last three months of the fiscal year, the Richmond service carried 10,666 passengers, exceeding its goal of 8,352 by 27.7 percent. However, due to  heavy thru traffic  — which results in lower revenue credited to Virginia — the service fell 11 percent short of its revenue goal.

One concern going forward: the new Virginia services have no dedicated source of state operating funds. Virginia's general assembly has authorized up to $6 million in rail enhancement funds to support operating costs in FY2011, but sufficient funding has not been identified beyond that, Amtrak said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/18/2010