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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Amtrak reports record revenue, higher ridership in FY2014


Amtrak's ticket revenue rose 4 percent to a record $2.2 billion and ridership ticked up 0.2 percent to 30.9 million in fiscal-year 2014 compared with FY2013 totals. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

The growth in revenue and ridership reflected "strong, continued demand for passenger rail," but the slower ridership growth primarily was due to adjusted FY2013 numbers associated with the harsh 2014 winter and on-time performance issues associated with freight-rail delays and infrastructure needing replacement, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

The Northeast Corridor's FY2014 ridership rose 3.3 percent to 11.6 million, the corridor's highest-ever ridership. The Acela Express and Northeast Regional services each set a new record. In particular, Acela showed strong popularity, registering 28 days with more than 14,000 trips compared with just five such days in the previous fiscal year, Amtrak officials said.

Eight other routes also set ridership records: Adirondack, Auto Train, Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto, Blue Water, Capital Limited, Empire Service, Piedmont and Washington-Lynchburg.

Ridership on long-distance routes and state-supported services declined by 4.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

"Amtrak clearly is selling a product that is very much in demand," said Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia. "Achieving strong ridership and revenue despite the challenges with aging infrastructure and freight-rail congestion demonstrates Amtrak's commitment to improving its financial and operating performance, and is a credit to Amtrak's management and staff."

Coscia called for building on the railroad's increase in ridership and improved performance "by making much-needed investments" in the railroad. Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman echoed those sentiments.

"As more and more people choose Amtrak for their travel needs, investments must be made in the tracks, tunnels, bridges and other infrastructure used by intercity passenger trains particularly on the Northeast Corridor and in Chicago," Boardman said. "Otherwise, we face a future with increased infrastructure-related service disruptions and delays that will hurt local and regional economics and drive passengers away."

Boardman called on freight railroads "to do a better job" at moving Amtrak trains over their tracks.

"Amtrak is prepared to take all necessary steps with the freights to enforce our statutory, regulatory and contractual rights to meet the expectation of our passengers for improved on-time performance," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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