Passenger rail ridership on state-supported and other shorter distance corridors (less than 750 miles) in the Midwest continues to thrive. Ridership on these nine routes grew by 5.4 percent in FY 2011, and exceeded the 2.9 million mark. Over the past five years, corridor ridership in the Midwest has grown by 54 percent. Nationwide, Amtrak experienced an all-time ridership record of 30.2 million passengers for the fiscal year, which ended September 30.
Michigan’s Blue Water service between Chicago and Port Huron experienced the region's largest ridership increase, up 18.6 percent, while ridership increases on Illinois’ Illini/Saluki service between Chicago and Carbondale followed close behind, at 18.2 percent.
The Chicago to St. Louis Lincoln service has seen very strong ridership increases over the past five years, but construction begun this summer to make improvements on the route made it the only Midwestern corridor route that did not see more riders in FY 2011 over FY 2010. While the track upgrades – funded by the federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) and the state of Illinois – will allow for train speeds up to 110 mph, ridership on the route was temporarily affected (there were approximately 45 days when train service could not occur). Ridership for the first 6 months of FY 2011 on that route (before construction began) was 12.7 percent higher than the first 6 months of the previous year.
Additional improvements funded through the HSIPR program have begun which will bring faster, more frequent service on several routes across the Midwest. This October, groundbreaking occurred for the Englewood Flyover project, which will eliminate one of Chicago’s most-congested rail intersections. Improvements to track and signal systems on the Chicago to Detroit corridor will begin soon. In addition, 8 corridors in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri will see new rail cars and locomotives.
To date, more than $2.5 billion in HSIPR funding has been awarded to eight Midwestern states, for more than two dozen projects, including track, signal and bridge improvements, station development, and planning for new and improved service.
For full passenger rail ridership information on Midwestern routes, click here.
See the nationals details here.