Amtrak said is capitalizing on the momentum by advancing infrastructure investments that will launch new and expanded services.  -  Photo: Amtrak

Amtrak said is capitalizing on the momentum by advancing infrastructure investments that will launch new and expanded services.

Photo: Amtrak

Amtrak announced preliminary results from Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) as the company resumed service on all routes and advanced major infrastructure projects that will support plans to double ridership by 2040.

In FY23, more than 28 million customers rode Amtrak nationwide, fueled in part by growth on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), where ridership is exceeding pre-pandemic levels since early summer.

“Amtrak ridership continues to set post-pandemic records thanks to our customers who were anxious to travel again and attracted to the many benefits of train travel. This resurgence was made possible by our dedicated employees, our many state and host railroad partners, and ongoing support from the Biden Administration and Congress,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “We’re inspired by the soaring demand for intercity passenger rail and are eager to continue connecting more people and places.”

Multiple State Supported services also drove ridership gains while setting monthly or annual ridership records, including the Amtrak Downeaster and services in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of North Carolina.

Amtrak said is capitalizing on the momentum by advancing infrastructure investments that will launch new and expanded services, advance safety and reliability, improve accessibility, drive economic development, and enhance the customer experience.

Several projects kicked off in FY23 that will unlock major bottlenecks and improve operations and safety for Amtrak and its commuter partners. This includes the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program in Baltimore and the Hudson Tunnel Project, a piece of the Gateway Program, among others.

“The best is yet to come!” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “As we build a new era of passenger rail with more modern trains, expanded routes, more frequent service, upgraded stations, and renewed infrastructure, Amtrak will continue to deliver major improvements for current and future Amtrak customers over the coming decade.”

Preliminary Results for FY23

Preliminary results for FY23 (Oct. 2022 – Sept. 2023) include:

  • Ridership: Provided 28.6 million customer trips, a 24.6% increase over FY22
  • FY23 4th Quarter NEC ridership levels were 8% above pre-pandemic levels, demonstrating the strong velocity built over the Fiscal Year
  • Service: Resumed service on all routes suspended during the pandemic and added more trains on the Northeast Regional, Piedmont, and Amtrak Cascades
  • Major Infrastructure Investments: Amtrak made its largest annual capital investment ever, investing nearly $3 billion into modern trains, enhanced stations and facilities, new tunnels and bridges, and other infrastructure upgrades.
  • FY23 began a multi-year program of investment that will be the largest capital program in company
  • Jobs Created: Welcomed more than 4,800 new hires who are helping to support ridership growth, improve existing service and advance historic infrastructure investments
  • Total Operating Revenue: $3.4 billion, an increase of 20% over FY22, driven by higher ridership and ticket revenue across all service lines
  • Adjusted Operating Earnings: (752.2 million), an improvement of $130 million over FY22, driven by strong revenue performance and successful cost containment as Amtrak recovers from the cost increase experienced during the pandemic and incurs ramp-up costs to support Amtrak’s infrastructure investment program

FY23 Accomplishments

Accomplishment by Amtrak in FY2023 include:

Expanded, Enhanced and Restored Service:

  • Demand for Amtrak services continued to grow, with ridership exceeding expectations
  • Systemwide ridership closed out the year on a strong note, with September ridership matching pre-pandemic levels (100% of September 2019)
  • Resumed service on all routes suspended during the pandemic

State Supported

  • State Supported ridership grew nearly 23%, serving more than 12.5 million customer trips
  • Multiple services and/or states set monthly or annual ridership records, including the Amtrak Downeaster and services in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of North Carolina
  • Added a fourth Piedmont roundtrip between Charlotte and Raleigh, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation
  • Restored Amtrak Cascades service between Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC – which doubled the number of daily roundtrips between Portland and Seattle from two to four – in collaboration with the Oregon and Washington State Departments of Transportation and other agencies
  • Resumed service between Montreal and New York City via the Adirondack for the first time since 2020, in conjunction with VIA Rail Canada and the New York State Department of Transportation
  • Improved travel times on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor with a new maximum speed of 110 mph for Lincoln Service trains, following successful implementation of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s high-speed rail project
  • Saw record ridership on Amtrak San Joaquins special train service to Allensworth State Historic Park for the 2023 Juneteenth Festival

NEC

  • Northeast Regional ridership surpassed pre-pandemic levels, growing more than 29% compared with FY22 and serving over 9.2 million customer trips
  • Acela ridership grew 38% over FY22, serving nearly 3 million customer trips
  • The fourth quarter (July-September) surpassed pre-pandemic levels
  • Expanded weekend Acela service, including additional roundtrips between Boston and New York on Sundays
  • Introduced ultra-low, more affordable Night Owl fares with one-way travel between $5-20 on select routes in the Washington-New York market
  • The program was subsequently expanded to the New York-Boston market with additional hours
  • Added more Northeast Regional service connecting Springfield Union Station, New York City and other communities along the NEC, in collaboration with the Massachusetts and Connecticut Departments of Transportation and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro-North
  • Enhanced the Northeast Regional schedule between Washington and New York to provide more, convenient trips for stations outside major hubs
  • For example, New Brunswick, NJ schedule enhancements helped drive a 54% increase in ridership.

Long Distance

  • Long Distance ridership grew more than 12% across the network, serving nearly 3.9 million customer trips
  • Fully restored pre-pandemic frequencies on all Long Distance routes
  • Continued upgrading and enhancing the Long Distance customer experience, including deploying new locomotives, improving food and beverage offerings, refreshing passenger car interiors, restoring stored equipment to active service and developing designs and specifications for procurement of a new fleet

New Connecting Services

  • Introduced new connecting bus service linking New Bedford, MA and Worcester, MA with Providence Station in Rhode Island

 Future Growth Opportunities

Amtrak also shared future opportunities for the agency:

  • Advanced plans to expand Amtrak service across the country in partnership with states, local communities and host railroads, including: New State Supported service between the Twin Cities (Minnesota), Milwaukee and Chicago, in partnership with the Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation; this service is anticipated to begin in early 2024.
  • Reestablishing Gulf Coast Service via two daily roundtrips between New Orleans, LA and Mobile, AL, in partnership with the Southern Rail Commission; this service is anticipated to begin in 2024
  • Two new daily Amtrak Cascades trips, making seven daily roundtrips (six Amtrak Cascades + one Coast Starlight) between Seattle, WA and Portland, OR, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Transportation; this service will begin on December 11, 2023
  • The signing of a service development agreement with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to return of intercity passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA in the next several years, assuming available funding
  • Submitted four Corridor ID grant applications to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to study new intercity passenger service in New York and Texas, as well as more frequent Cardinal and Sunset Limited Long Distance service
  • Supported additional applications submitted by other entities
  • Actively participated in the FRA’s Amtrak Daily Long Distance Service Study, which is evaluating the restoration of daily intercity passenger rail service and the potential for new Amtrak Long Distance routes
  • Announced that Texas Central and Amtrak are evaluating a potential partnership to further study and potentially advance a proposed 205-mph high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston

Amtrak Airo

  • Revealed the official name, new renderings and customer amenities that will elevate the customer journey with a focus on comfort and efficiency
  • Executed a contract option for 10 additional trainsets, bringing the total order to 83
  • Began production and boosted businesses nationwide with nearly 100 suppliers in 31 states

New Long Distance Fleet

  • Launched the procurement process for new passenger cars for Amtrak’s overnight fleet that will feature enhanced amenities, improved accessibility and greater customer comfort
  • Conducted customer research and gathered feedback from members of the accessibility community to influence final design

New Acela Trains

  • Advanced work to introduce new, high-speed Acela trains next year

New Locomotives

  • Continued introducing new ALC-42 Long Distance locomotives, the most energy-efficient in the industry, aimed to reduce emissions and consume less fuel while reaching a top speed of 125 mph
  • New State-Owned RailcarsContinued to introduce new state-owned railcars on Amtrak Midwest and advanced testing for California routes (with plans to introduce the first railcars into service in California in the near future)
  • These railcars offer more amenities and improved accessibility, including onboard passenger information displays, improved Wi-Fi technology, and more

Restoring the Existing Long Distance Fleet

  • Over a dozen Long Distance cars have re-entered service with a total of 63 projected to be restored by the end of next year

Major Maintenance Facility Upgrades

  • Advanced procurement for new and upgraded maintenance facilities in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and continued planning for upgrades to over a dozen smaller sites around the country
  • These upgrades will help modernize Amtrak’s maintenance practices and ensure a seamless transition to modern trains

Stations

  • New York Penn StationPenn Reconstruction
  • Continued working with MTA and NJ TRANSIT to advance conceptual design to 30% design threshold
  • Issued Notice to Proceed for preliminary engineering work to consultant consortium

Penn Expansion

  • Continued working with partners to advance to 10% design threshold and environmental reviews
  • Advanced transformation of New York Penn Station’s busiest entrance, located at 7th Avenue and 32nd
  • The enlarged and fully rebuilt entrance opened in November and expands the entrance’s width by 50% with a new elevator, escalator and wider stairs
  • Rolled out a new food and beverage service menu at the Moynihan Metropolitan Lounge, focused on improving the quality and variety of products with an emphasis on sustainability

Baltimore Penn Station

  • Advanced construction, including historic façade restoration, as part of the major redevelopment project with Penn Station Partners

Philadelphia’s Gray 30th Street Station

Advanced major improvements with design and construction progressing, including final design development and approvals for temporary facility construction, and state of good repair improvements

Held “Hire 30th Street” collaborative events, supporting a network of community and faith-based organizations that have longstanding commitments to economic development in the West Philadelphia/University City District area and throughout the greater Philadelphia region

Chicago

  • Opened a new $10 million Clinton Street entrance to Chicago Union Station ahead of major construction on Canal Street which is being led by the City of Chicago
  • Selected a designer that will help reimagine the Concourse at Chicago Union Station, the first major station enhancement project on the floor level since 1991
  • Advanced the Final Design phase for reactivation of the high-level Mail Platform, which will serve as the station’s first level-boarding, accessible passenger platform

Washington Union Station

  • Renovated the Metropolitan Lounge and concourse restrooms
  • Continued efforts to advance customer improvements at the station

Art at AmtrakExpanded the Art at Amtrak public art program in its first full year to new locations:

  • New York Penn Station, Moynihan Train Hall, Philadelphia’s Gray 30th Street Station, Washington Union Station and Block 675 in Manhattan, where construction of the Hudson Tunnel Project will take place (in partnership with the Gateway Development Commission)

Infrastructure

  • NEC invested more than $124 million in annual track improvement work as part of a long-term effort to ensure the railroad operates at a peak level of performance
  • This work replaced 44 track switches, updated 28 miles of track, and more

New York City East River Tunnel Rehabilitation

  • Launched the procurement phase for this project, which will modernize the tunnel and rail systems infrastructure. This project will improve safety, service capacity, reliability, and security and bring the infrastructure used by Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT and Long Island Rail Road to a state of good repair

Penn Station Access

  • Provided support for this MTA project that will construct four new Metro-North Railroad (MNR) stations in the Bronx and upgrade infrastructure along Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line and allow MNR trains to access New York Penn Station for the first time later this decade

Baltimore Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program

  • Joined President Biden, elected officials and partners to execute the Project Kickoff Agreement and celebrate the signed Project Labor Agreement with the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Began early construction work that replaced aging wooden ties with approximately 13,500 new concrete ties, 28,000 feet of new rail and other upgrades associated with the NEC Track A, Winans to Bridge Improvement Project
  • Awarded the first of three major construction contracts to deliver a new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC Station, new tracks and rail systems from the MARC station to the new tunnel, replacement of several bridges and more
  • Advanced construction of two new platforms that will increase capacity and improve operational flexibility
  • Continued community engagement with public information meetings, a comprehensive website refresh with more project information, and community pop-up events

Washington, DC

  • Advanced reconstruction of Track 22, which will increase rail capacity, improving operations and service at one of the nation’s busiest transportation hubs

The Gateway Program

  • Advanced the Portal North Bridge project to the 36% construction mark in partnership with NJ TRANSIT
  • This project replaces a century-old, moveable span with a high-level, fixed bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey

Hudson Tunnel Project

  • Joined President Biden, elected officials and partners to celebrate a federal Mega grant awarded to Amtrak by the U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Received Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approval for entry into the Engineering Phase of the Capital Investment Grants program; Senator Schumer and USDOT announced eligibility for approval of up to $6.88B grant
  • Early work kicked off on both sides of the Hudson River
  • In Manhattan, Hudson Yard Concrete Casing construction is underway
  • In New Jersey, the Tonnelle Avenue Bridge and Utility Relation Project is underway

Highline Renewal State of Good Repair Project

  • Dock Bridge rehabilitation project in Newark, NJ progressed towards 90% design

Sawtooth Bridges Replacement Project

  • Advanced preliminary engineering for the new bridge design in Kearny, NJ
  • Harrison 4th Track Project
  • Progressed towards 90% design of project to add a 4th main track to the NEC in Harrison, NJ

Product Upgrades

  • Partnered with renowned restauranteur Stephen Starr to elevate the Acela First Class dining experience, featuring popular items onboard from his restaurants along the NEC
  • Launched a Cart Service pilot on select Acela routes, featuring a new, wine-by-the-glass offering and exclusive fresh food options customers can purchase directly at their seat
  • Introduced traditional dining for First Class customers aboard Silver Star and Silver Meteor
  • A $28 million investment is providing upgrades to Superliner and Viewliner cars
  • The Superliner project will enhance nearly 400 passenger cars, with nearly half of the refreshed bi-level cars now in revenue service
  • Viewliner I Sleeping Cars will receive new seat cushions and upholstery, as well as new carpeting, curtains, LED lighting and tables

Sustainability and Climate Resilience

  • Introduced the first-ever electric bus in the Amtrak National Network, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation
  • This bus makes the nearly 200-mile roundtrip on a single charge and is estimated to save approximately 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year
  • Issued the FY22 Sustainability Report that measured progress against annual and long-term sustainability goals
  • Transitioned Pacific Surfliner and Capital Corridor trains from fossil diesel to renewable diesel, in partnership with Caltrans, LOSSAN, CCJPA, SJJPA, and other partners, achieving an estimated 63% greenhouse gas emission reduction versus conventional diesel
  • Deployed new internal energy and sustainability tools to reduce idling and related emissions

Zero NTSB incidents

  • A reduction of injuries to employees (down 20%) and customers (down 40%) year-over-year
  • Observed a 50% year-over-year increase in employee voluntary safety reports submitted through its safety reporting tools
  • Amtrak leadership signed the Operation Lifesaver Rail Safety Pledge and encouraged others to make their own commitment to saving lives, with more than 500 people taking the pledge since it launched
  • The Amtrak Police Department and Operation Lifesaver mobilized “Operation Clear Track” to reduce deaths and injuries surrounding railroad tracks and crossings
  • 149 organizations in 27 states across the U.S. signed up to participate
  • Conducted a Gulf Coast safety campaign to prepare for launching new service between New Orleans and Mobile, AL next year
  • Hosted 29 safety fairs at worksites around the country that helped to raise employee awareness about the importance of prioritizing safety and wellbeing
  • Supported by over 1,000 Amtrak employee volunteers, these events reached over 5,500 employees
  • Progressed modernization of mobile communications for the Amtrak Police Department and introduced new video surveillance cameras
  • Deployed mobile devices to front-line workers to provide real-time access to critical safety documents and to better serve customers

Accessibility

  • Dedicated more than $114 million to Amtrak’s ADA Stations Program, which has now brought 119 stations to full compliance and another 65 to compliance excluding platforms, which require additional work.Achieved substantial completion at 16 stations: Fremont, Martinez, Oakland-Coliseum (California); Homewood (Illinois); Connersville (Indiana); South Shore-South Portsmouth (Kentucky); Jefferson City (Missouri); Yazoo City (Mississippi); Salisbury, Selma-Smithfield, Wilson (North Carolina); Del Rio (Texas); Green River, Helper (Utah); Wishram (Washington) and Thurmond (West Virginia)
  • 56 accessible ramps deployed on Superliner I cars
  • A newly designed accessible bathroom is being added to 23 Superliner I Coach Cars
  • These new rooms accommodate larger wheelchairs and include a changing room
  • Deployed new Passenger Information Display Systems (PIDS) at 21 Amtrak stations
  • Tucson (Arizona); Salinas (California); DeLand, Miami (Florida); Ann Arbor (Michigan); Kansas City, Kirkwood (Missouri); Jackson (Mississippi); Whitefish (Montana); Albuquerque (New Mexico); Buffalo-Depew St., Hudson, Saratoga Springs (New York); Rocky Mount (North Carolina); Columbia (South Carolina); El Paso (Texas); Lynchburg, Williamsburg (Virginia); and Bellingham, Edmonds, Kelso (Washington)

Customer Experience Improvements

  • Improved customer communication during service disruptions and delays
  • An improved delay notification service launched in the spring to relay key updates to customers via email, text message and push notifications to the Amtrak mobile app

Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR)

  • Improved flexibility for points redemption to allow AGR members to redeem points for the lowest available fares
  • Implemented proactive service recovery for certain delays across all NEC routes, bolstering the system with emails to customers apologizing for the delay and providing AGR in certain instances

Other Enhancements

  • Provided customers with access to near-real-time Amtrak train arrival and departure information status on services like Google Maps and Apple Maps, with the launch of “General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) Realtime feeds.”
  • Enhanced Amtrak.com and the Amtrak app to offer self-service booking and modification features for customers with disabilities

Diversity & Inclusion

  • Hosted Amtrak’s inaugural CEO Diversity and Inclusion Summit, attended by more than 70 executives, human resources leaders and diversity and inclusion practitioners from federal agencies, state departments of transportation, regional rail providers and private-sector companies
  • Received the highest score possible on the Disability Equality Index (DEI) for the second straight year, demonstrating Amtrak’s ongoing commitment to representation for employees and employee candidates with disabilities
  • Published the third annual Diversity Report showcasing the company’s representation data across all levels and departments

Talent & People

  • Hired over 4,800 new employees and held hiring events to strengthen its workforce, as it rebuilds existing infrastructure and grow to meet increasing demand for passenger rail
  • Expanded and enhanced its eight Employee Resource Groups (ERG)
  • Membership grew by over 60% to 2,000+ employees
  • The A. Phillip Randolph ERG received the “2023 Diversity Impact Top 25 ERG” award by Talent Dimensions
  • Completed contract negotiations for more than 60% of its frontline employees, providing wage increases and enhancements
  • Exceeded the FRA grant-funded Mechanical Apprenticeship Program participation rate target with 117 apprentices in four crafts, which helps support workforce growth and retention by investing in existing and new employees
  • Received a federal grant from the FRA that will support the development of a comprehensive training and apprenticeship program for new track foreman/inspector employees to ensure proper mentorship and skills transfer
  • Partnered with the Delaware Department of Transportation via a Department of Labor grantto launch a pre-employment training program that will prepare participants for railroad industry jobs
  • Signed the first Project Labor Agreement (PLA) under a 2021 Memorandum of Understanding between Amtrak and the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), which covers Amtrak’s major civil engineering projects
  • The PLA is a collective bargaining agreement that will govern terms and conditions of employment for workers delivering various portions of the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program

Leadership 

  • WTS International honored Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner with the Honorable Ray LaHood award for his work to advance women in transportation and cultivate an inclusive culture.
  • Appointed two new members to the Executive Leadership Team: Robert Grasty – Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer and Eliot Hamlisch – Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer

Marketing Partnerships

  • Continued to expand multicultural marketing efforts and engage in media partnerships honoring major cultural initiatives such as Black History Month, Asian American Pacific Islander Month, Pride Month, Juneteenth and Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Introduced Amtrak “Train to Table,” an influencer-led, social media video series spotlighting minority-owned restaurants and food destinations with culturally diverse cuisines located near Amtrak stations in multiple major cities
  • Other work to reach new audiences and attract new customers included:
  • Elevating partnerships with MLB, NBA and WNBA teams along the NEC
  • Continuing in-stadium and in-arena signage
  • Increasing tactical promotions of fare offerings, including popular Share Fares
  • Integrating sustainability messaging
  • Expanding service opportunities for Amtrak employees, highlighted via team venue and social promotion
  • Partnering with official destination marketing organizations to promote passenger rail as the smarter and more sustainable way to travel across the NEC; examples include NYC Tourism, Destination DC, Visit Baltimore and Meet Boston
  • Participating as the official travel partner for cultural and athletic themed events such as DC Jazz Fest, DC Bike Ride and Philly Bike Ride
  • Amazon’s Alexa BEA (Branded Experience on Alexa) promoted Amtrak’s unique benefits to prospective travelers through at-home devices

Community Engagement and Customer Commitments

  • Launched Amtrak Gives Back, a community engagement program focused on being a good neighbor and valuable partner to the communities Amtrak serves
  • Announced On Track for Good, an Amtrak program that supports non-profit organizations around the country with a limited number of complimentary trips, putting excess capacity to good use
  • Expanded the Office of Community Engagement’s outreach with new team members and community engagement opportunities during the office’s first full fiscal year of operation
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