More and more people are riding the train these days, especially on Amtrak’s high speed Acela trains along the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC.
Ridership is up 7 percent over last year and trains are often sold out, especially during peak periods. 5 times in fiscal year 2013 more than 14,000 passengers rode Acela trains in a single day. In fiscal year 2014, that number has jumped to 25 days so far. Amtrak carries 75% of all passengers between New York and Washington, and 54% between New York and Boston while he airlines carry the rest. Fares from travel in the Northeast Corridor account for 50% of all Amtrak revenues.
To meet the demand, Amtrak is requesting bids to add up to 28 new train units, each with 40% more seats than existing trains. The new trains will let Amtrak schedule more trips per day and carry more passengers on each run, which will generate significantly more revenue for the railroad.
Why are so many people taking the train? I haven’t done a scientific survey, of course, but I can say that my last few experiences with air travel have been distinctly unpleasant. I think people are tired of paying high prices to be manhandled by the TSA at airports only to be squeezed into an uncomfortable aluminum tube for hours on end.
On the train, you can travel from city center to city center in less time, sit in a comfortable seat and connect to the internet along the way. What’s not to like?
Initially, the new trains will supplement the existing equipment, but eventually they will replace all of the original Acela units, which have been in service for over 13 years.