Amtrak on Pace to Break Annual Ridership Record

Amtrak carried 13.6 million passengers over the past six months, putting it on pace for a record-breaking ridership year, according to a statement released today by officials at the national inter-city rail system.

371487850_3908ba93fb_thumb_461x500.jpgAmtrak’s Acela line carried 13.5 percent more riders last month than in March 2009. (Photo: Flickr/pgengler)

Every one of Amtrak’s lines recorded an increase last month relative to 2009 figures, with the northeastern Acela line recording a 13.5 percent uptick. Acela is often referred to as the closest thing to high-speed rail on offer in America, thanks to its top achievable speed of 150 miles per hour.

During the past six months — Amtrak measures performance in fiscal years, which typically begin in October — five short-haul lines recorded double-digit ridership increases, including the northwestern Cascades route and the Lincoln, which connects St. Louis and Chicago.

Amtrak recently made a pitch for $446 million in new funding from Congress, including aid to help replace its older fleet of locomotives with more fuel-efficient models. If lawmakers agree to the rail network’s request, General Electric’s transport division stands to benefit from new business for its diesel-electric rail cars, thanks to a coordinated lobbying effort by the company and its main labor union.

In a statement hailing the record ridership, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman ascribed the increase in part to "a slowly improving economy and continued high fuel prices." The fuel-efficient fleet upgrade, he added, remains the system’s "most urgent unfunded need."

  • Brandi

    Shows that there will be huge demand for high speed rail. I mean if we can get increased demand for convential rail in a recession with gas prices down need I say more.

  • Spokker

    I’ve been riding the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner like crazy recently, so much so that I get a free trip with my frequent train miles or whatever they call them. I’m going to Eureka!

  • Larry

    My family and I recently completed a cross-country trip aboard the Sunset Limited. As always, it was a good trip. The great thing was, both trains arrived to their destinations AHEAD of schedule rather than the 6 to 12 hour delays of the past! Now some of that is due to Union Pacific’s double-tracking of approximately 600 miles of track and too, fewer trains because of the slack economic situation. The only negative was the fact that meals are no longer cooked onboard the trains but rather,it is done in the city of origin. Trains bound for New Orleans have mealed cooked in Los Angeles and trains bound for LA, feature meals cooked in New Orleans. Steaks can make it through but fish and some vegetables don’t do very well being microwaved! When you are on a train for two whole days, that procedure has to change. Also, the equipment, as earlier mentioned, is getting old and needs to be upgraded and/or replaced. There were too ragged edges and rattling, indicative of old rolling stock.

  • Is Amtrak going to try requesting noncompliant equipment? Because if not, then it’s not really serious about fuel efficiency.

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