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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

All-time-high 2.75 million passengers ride Amtrak in July


Last month, Amtrak carried 2.75 million passengers — the national intercity passenger railroad's highest monthly ridership in its 37-year history. July's passenger total rose 14 percent compared with July 2007's count.

In addition, ticket revenue in July jumped 18.6 percent year over year to $168 million.

"Increasing fuel prices, highway congestion, airline issues and environmental awareness continue to make intercity passenger rail extremely relevant and popular," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Kummant in a prepared statement.

In the East, Acela Express ridership increased 5.5 percent, Northeast Regional ridership rose 8.8 percent, Downeaster ridership soared 33.6 percent, Keystone Service ridership jumped 26 percent and Piedmont ridership skyrocketed 43 percent compared with July 2007 levels.

Midwest region ridership gains include the Heartland Flyer (up 40.2 percent) and Hiawatha Service (up 37.7 percent), and West region ridership gains include California's Capitol Corridor (up 32.6 percent) and San Joaquin service (up 32.1 percent).

The Coast Starlight — which operates between Seattle and Los Angeles — was Amtrak's most popular overnight train in July, posting a ridership increase of 27.7 percent compared with July 2007's count. The Auto Train, which runs non-stop between Washington, D.C., and Orlando, and New York City-to-Miami Silver Service registered ridership gains of 14.7 and 17.8 percent, respectively.

Through the first 10 months of Amtrak's fiscal-year 2008, ridership totaled 23.7 million vs. 21.3 million during the same FY2007 period. Ticket revenue totaled $1.4 billion, up 14.1 percent.