Continuing its FY18 success, Amtrak is on track for its best year as the company celebrates its 48th year of operations. Fiscal year ridership is up 1.3% through March over FY18, and Amtrak is heading toward breakeven on an operating earnings basis by FY21.
Following the enactment of the Rail Passenger Service Act in 1970, Amtrak began serving customers on May 1, 1971, taking over the operation for most intercity passenger trains then operated by private railroads in exchange for access to their respective networks, thus preserving intercity passenger rail service across America. With demonstrated success under new leadership and growing demand for passenger rail, it’s a pivotal time for America’s Railroad® to reinforce the promises made 48 years ago and to reassess Amtrak’s network for the next 50 years.
“We are changing intercity passenger rail to meet the needs of America – modernizing our trains and stations, improving on-time performance, and adding contemporary amenities — making it the preferred mode of travel for customers,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “We are experiencing record growth, and we look forward to working with Congress to further invest in our rail infrastructure to better serve the changing landscape of our nation.”
With much of Amtrak’s infrastructure dating to the early 1900s and most of Amtrak’s equipment nearing the end of its useful life, considerable investments are needed to address increased highway congestion, rapid urbanization, and the threats posed by our changing climate.
Additionally, millennials and aging populations are changing the overall travel landscape, forming new markets, with many of the fastest growing markets having limited or no intercity passenger rail service. “We have been building a successful company over the last several years: best-ever operating performance, record ridership and revenue, and the highest ever capital spend,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia.
“We have the potential to meaningfully enhance how this country moves in the future, to provide frequent and reliable, city-to-city passenger rail service.”
Last month, Amtrak submitted its 5 Year Plans, which provide a comprehensive strategic and financial view of the services that Amtrak provides its customers along with its General and Legislative Annual Report to Congress. Amtrak is preparing to transmit a comprehensive reauthorization proposal to Congress later this year as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act is set to expire.