Rail is not dead. Far from it!
In Fiscal Year 2013, a record 31.6 million passengers traveled on Amtrak on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Other stats:
- It is the tenth ridership record in 11 years.
- Amtrak’s ridership has grown more than 50% since 2000.
- Ridership for all Northeast Corridor services reached 11.4 million passengers, the second best year ever, rebounding post-Hurricane Sandy.
“Amtrak moves people, the economy and the nation forward everywhere the trains go,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman. “In towns all across America, Amtrak brings economic opportunities for people, businesses and communities to grow and prosper,” stated Tony Coscia, chairman of the Amtrak board of directors.
State-supported services are vital links in the Amtrak national network. The power of increasing demand for passenger rail is recognized through state investments to improve service, speed and safety. In addition, states and communities realize stations served by Amtrak are anchors for economic development, catalysts for historic preservation and tourism growth, sites for commercial and cultural uses, and points of civic pride.
“This year’s record ridership was achieved station by station in the more than 500 communities across America that Amtrak serves,” said Boardman.
But what about HIGH-SPEED TRAINS?
Feasible? Yes. Sustainable? Yes. Expensive? YES. The high-speed rail discussion continues across the United States with regional use in areas of California, Midwest, Texas, and the Northeast.
As a resident of Champaign (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and frequent traveler to Chicago, I’ve been following the HSRail projects with great personal interest. A recent study released by the University of Illinois and the Illinois DOT concluded that a 220 mph train connecting Chicago’s Union Station with either St. Louis or Indianapolis in about 2 hours is feasible and would “provide safe, modern, sustainable transportation for future generations.” Yes, please!