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Record passenger numbers on trains across America

15th July 2011 Print

From New York to LA, Chicago to New Orleans, Amtrak, America’s passenger rail, is enjoying increasing passenger numbers as the appeal of train travel remains the fashionable choice of travel. 

With more than 2.6 million passengers, May marked the nineteenth consecutive month of increased ridership for Amtrak and is on target to set more annual records this year.

This increased growth has been a long-term trend for Amtrak, having set annual ridership records in seven of the past eight years, including 2010, during which ridership was over 28.7 million passengers, marking Amtrak’s best year in its history. Amtrak’s strong performance indicates an increased demand in passenger rail travel, which has become increasingly popular in recent years as a safer, greener and more convenient means of travelling.

Factors that aid in the continued growth in ridership include: high fuel prices, a slight improvement in the economic environment, recent growth in business travel (especially on the high-speed Acela Express), the introduction of Wi fi on several of Amtrak’s rail lines and marketing campaigns that have effectively improved the popularity and appeal of rail travel.

Ridership among Amtrak’s long-distance trains has experienced year-over-year passenger increases during 18 of those 19 months, contributing significantly to the continued growth in rail ridership in America.  Additionally, advanced reservations for long-distance travel for the summer months indicate that there will be continued growth in ridership at least through August. Overnight services also reported an increase, with ridership up by 4.6 percent

In the Northeast, the high-speed Acela Express (Boston-Washington, DC) experienced a 5.1 percent increase in ridership in May 2011 as compared with May 2010. In addition, the Northeast Regional (Boston-Virginia Beach) carried 10.1 percent more passengers in May 2011 compared to the same month the previous year. The Ethan Allen and Adirondack services, which run from New York to Vermont and New York to Montreal respectively, also experienced gains, with a 24.5 percent and 21.2 percent increase in ridership over the same period the year before. Ridership along Virginia routes also experienced a sizable increase, with Washington to Lynchburg up 43.4 percent, and Washington to Newport News up 32.9 percent.

Central highlights include increases among services such as the Missouri River Runner (Kansas City-St. Louis), up 28.8 percent from the previous year, Blue Water (Chicago-Port Huron), up 22 percent, Illini/Saluki (Chicago-Carbondale), up 23 percent and Carl Sandburg/Illinois Zephyr (Chicago-Quincy), up 13.7 percent.

In the West, all three California routes experienced strong ridership increases in May 2011. The Capital Corridor (Auburn-San Jose) went up 9.7 percent, the San Joaquin (Oakland/Sacramento-Bakersfield) went up 12.8 percent, and the Pacific Surfliner (San Diego-San Luis Obispo) up by 4.3 percent compared with May 2010.

Amtrak has provided dedicated service for the past 40 years as America’s intercity passenger rail operator and only high-speed rail provider. In 2010, a record breaking 28.7 million passengers utilized Amtrak’s rail services that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates more than 300 daily trains to over 500 destinations- at speeds up to 150 miles per hour and is in partnership with 15 states and 4 commuter rail agencies. For schedules, fares, and more information visit,, or