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Amtrak on Pace to Break Annual Ridership Record

10:07 AM PDT on April 8, 2010

Amtrak carried 13.6 million passengers over the past
six months, putting it on pace for a record-breaking ridership year,
according to a statement released today by officials at the national
inter-city rail system.

371487850_3908ba93fb_thumb_461x500.jpgAmtrak's Acela line saw carried 13.5 percent more riders last month than in March 2009. (Photo: America 2050)

one of Amtrak's lines recorded an increase last month relative to 2009
figures, with the northeastern Acela line recording a 13.5 percent
uptick. Acela is often referred to as the closest thing to high-speed
rail on offer in America, thanks to its top achievable speed of 150
miles per hour.

During the past six months -- Amtrak
measures performance in fiscal years, which typically begin in October
-- five short-haul lines recorded double-digit ridership increases,
including the northwestern Cascades route and the Lincoln, which
connects St. Louis and Chicago.

Amtrak recently made a pitch
for $446 million in new funding from Congress, including aid to help
replace its older fleet of locomotives with more fuel-efficient models.
If lawmakers agree to the rail network's request, General Electric's
transport division stands to benefit from new business for its
diesel-electric rail cars, thanks to a coordinated lobbying effort by the company and its main labor union.

a statement hailing the record ridership, Amtrak President Joseph
Boardman ascribed the increase in part to "a slowly improving economy
and continued high fuel prices." The fuel-efficient fleet upgrade, he
added, remains the system's "most urgent unfunded need."

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