Amtrak’s Lynchburg-Washington line beats projections - TransDominion Express


Amtrak’s Lynchburg-Washington line beats projections

By Ray Reed

RICHMOND — The new Amtrak train between Lynchburg and Washington had twice as many passengers as expected during its first month of operation in October, state rail officials said Wednesday.Revenues from passenger fares were strong too, despite low introductory rates, said Kevin Page, rail transportation chief for the Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

“We had a very strong month” on the Lynchburg train, Page told members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

“Hopefully the wedding bells will continue to ring as we continue that service,” Page said.

Amtrak has extended its reduced fare, which is usually $38 one way to Washington, through March on the new train. It leaves Lynchburg at 7:38 a.m. and returns at 8:36 p.m. Trains were on time 75 percent of the time in Lynchburg during October, Page said.

Amtrak officials say that reduced fares can actually increase the revenue by attracting more passengers, Page said.

October’s results “are a good indicator that we can grow ridership in the territory,” Page said.

Total ridership on the new train in October totaled 8,500 passengers.

Fares produced $414,000, which was 87 percent more than expected and almost enough to cover the cost of operating the train. Virginia has budgeted a monthly subsidy of $242,000 for the train, but only $48,000 of that will be needed for October, according to figures Page gave the transportation board.

Amtrak also had strong ridership on its other train in the Lynchburg-to-Washington corridor. That train leaves Lynchburg at 6 a.m. and returns about 10 p.m., with fares typically about $78 one way.

During October, 3,777 people got on or off the trains in Lynchburg. That was a 68 percent increase from the 2,249 who used the train in October of last year.

Charlottesville also had a strong increase in ridership.

More than 8,500 people got on or off the two trains in Charlottesville during October. That was about 2,300 more riders than the city had in the same month of 2008.

Page accompanied his report with some cautions.

Ridership normally is lower in the winter months, he said.

“While the first month’s ridership results are promising, they are not typical since this is the first month of service,” he said.

A better indicator of performance will be known after the train has operated for three full months, Page said.

Original article can be found here.

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