Amtrak's numbers have hit record highs thanks to better service, higher gas prices, and increasingly unbearable air travel. Will Congress get the message?
RENSSELAER — Amtrak said Wednesday it carried more than 31.2 million passengers in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up 3.5 percent from a year earlier and the highest in its four-decade history.
Trains serving the Capital Region, including stations in Rensselaer, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, all saw ridership gains, with the Lake Shore Limited up 4.3 percent to 403,700, an all-time record that ranked it fourth among Amtrak's 15 long-distance services nationwide.
Ridership on the Ethan Allen to Rutland climbed 10 percent to 54,376, while Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto corridor trains saw a 0.4 percent gain to 407,729. Empire Service trains between the Capital Region and New York City carried 1,062,715 passengers, a 3.8 percent increase, while the Adirondack to Montreal carried 131,869 passengers, a 5.3 percent increase.
Back in the day, when I lived in Boston, we considered a drive all the way up to Freeport, Maine to visit the L.L. Bean store a right of passage. Now, we can take the train!
By Kelley Bouchard
PORTLAND — After years of planning and increased ridership, the Amtrak Downeaster will start providing daily passenger train service to Freeport and Brunswick on Nov. 1.
The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority announced Wednesday that two of the five round trips that run daily from Boston to Portland will be extended north to the Freeport and Brunswick stops. One trip will arrive and depart Brunswick around 7 a.m., the other around 6 p.m.
One-way fares between Brunswick and Boston will cost less than $30 per person. Tickets for travel to Freeport and Brunswick will go on sale Oct. 1.
The extension of the Downeaster service comes several years later than anticipated by rail officials, said Patricia Quinn, director of the authority.
Those of us interested in the preservation and spread of passenger rail in the United States watch the events unfolding in Florida with great interest. Though the state rejected the Federal government's high-speed rail funds, a private company has offered to step into the fray. Florida East Coast Industries has announced plans to run a line between Miami and Florida and build it with its own money. I don't this has happened since Jim Hill built his Great Northern railway across the upper tier of the American west in the 19th century.
By Scott Blake
Miami officials are excited about what a 240-mile passenger rail to Orlando with a train station at the end of the line in the heart of Miami can do for that neighborhood, as well as the entire downtown.
Coral Gables-based Florida East Coast Industries Inc. is proposing to build a station on a 9-acre site it owns along Northwest First Avenue, north of the Miami-Dade County Courthouse on the west side of downtown.
"It's a huge economic stimulus any time you get a mass movement of people into an area," says Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose district includes the proposed station site.
The Portland Oregonian filed this video showing some of the advantages of commuting via Amtrak. Wifi, local beers, space to spread out, and productive time make train travel an attractive alternative to a harried highway commute.
This kind of development represents a much more palatable and doable alternative to all the "high-speed" rail hysteria that has gripped too many transit proponents. We have plenty of idle infrastructure out there that when properly upgraded, can provide convenient and efficient intercity travel. The success of Amtrak's Downeaster has proven that people will return to trains providing that they offer clean, frequent, and reasonably-priced service. This is success breeding success.
NH Department of Transportation officials do not have that included in their proposed NH State Rail Plan.
By Robert Cook
Portsmouth area residents urged NH Department of Transportation officials to restore a Portsmouth to Boston passenger rail service the city once had 50 years ago.
More than 50 Portsmouth area residents came to City Hall to give the state agency their feedback on the NH State Rail Plan's recommendations, which do not include the restoration of the Portsmouth to Boston rail service.