At Amtrak, Ridership Sets Record and Energy Efficiency Surpasses Airlines

Good news at Amtrak: the nation’s passenger carrier set an all-time record for monthly ridership this July. Riding the train that month were 2,750,278 passengers, 14% above July 2007’s figure and the highest in Amtrak’s 37 year history. CEO Alex Kummant says he expects Amtrak to end 2008 with 3 million passenger trips. “Increasing fuel prices, highway congestion, airline issues and environmental awareness continue to make intercity passenger rail extremely relevant and popular,” he says.

Meanwhile, the latest federal figures on transportation energy consumption are out, showing that Amtrak is 17.9% more efficient that the airlines. The figures appear in the Department of Energy’s annual Transportation Energy Data Book.

The news on both fronts was hailed by the National Association of Railroad Passengers’ Ross Capon who says “Passenger trains have always been a highly energy efficient mode of travel.  These figures and the public’s increased desire to park their cars and ride trains underscore the importance of immediately increasing investments in our national passenger train system as a key component of any rational energy policy.”

August 22, 2008