Amtrak announced late last week it posted record revenue and earnings for fiscal-year 2018, which ended Sept. 30.
Total revenue increased 2.2 percent to $3.38 billion over FY2017, according to unaudited and adjusted figures. Meanwhile, the railroad logged an operating loss of $168 million, which Amtrak officials said was a 13.3 percent improvement over FY2017 and the its "best operating performance to date."
Systemwide ridership clocked in at 31.7 million customer trips, down 0.1 percent from the previous fiscal year.
Northeast regional and state supported lines posted ridership growth in FY2018. But long distance service fell 3.9 percent due to trains canceled as a result of weather, infrastructure outages, planned repairs and poor on-time performance on the network used by Amtrak trains, Amtrak officials said in a press release.
Also last year, Amtrak began implementing a safety management system (SMS) in FY2018 following two significant derailments. Amtrak is the first U.S. railroad to deploy an SMS, a data-driven system used in other complex industries, Amtrak officials said.
In addition, Amtrak invested more than $1.46 billion on capital assets, including state-of-good-repair work on the Northeast corridor. Other capital projects last year included equipment refreshes, station upgrades, technology and customer service improvements.
"We made significant advancements to improve safety and the customer experience, posting our best operating performance in company history," said Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia. "We remain on track to cover total operating costs from ticket and other revenues in the next few years, which will allow us to focus funding on business improvements and expansion."
Riders are taking notice of the refreshed train interiors, improved amenities and renewed stations and infrastructure, said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson.
"We are continuing to make passenger rail the preferred mode of travel for business and leisure," he said.
Amtrak's FY2018 "highlights" also included:
• the installation of operational positive train control (PTC) on more than 13,000 miles of the Amtrak network. • the start of manufacturing of the new Acela Express fleet. • the issuance of a request for proposals for new or rebuilt locomotives to supplement and replace the aging national network diesel locomotive fleet. • the advancement of critical elements of the Hudson River tunnel project, including preliminary engineering and environmental review. Early construction began on the Portal North Bridge. • completion of New York Penn Station renewal work on time and budget, as well as completion of an overhaul of the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge. • the launch of new service to Roanoke, Virginia, and additional Amtrak service on the Springfield Line in Connecticut. Amtrak also assisted Connecticut's launch of CTrail Hartford Line Service.