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The Case for Business Investment in High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail

Posted by Content Coordinator on Friday, April 15th, 2011


This report focuses on key issues critical to private investors as they consider investments or future expansion into business serving growing passenger rail markets. It highlights national and international trends, the market potential in the U.S. future funding sources, and the need for public support.

Intercity rail services in the United States are provided by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, better known as Amtrak. Amtrak operates a national network of routes that serve all regions of the country. The Federal Railroad Administration has identified additional corridors where travel markets are ripe for high-speed corridor services to be managed by states or teams of states. These corridors are at the core of President Obama’s vision for high-speed rail in America. Many believe this vision will be a legacy of his Administration, and provides a forward looking transportation vision similar to the Interstate Highway system in the 1950s. These designated high-speed rail corridors, to be augmented over time, will complement and connect to the national system.

High-speed and intercity passenger rail services are part of a U.S. rail market that also includes commuter railroads, rail transit systems, and the freight rail industry.

A Growing Rail Passenger Base-Market:

The overall rail passenger market in the United States is growing at an impressive rate, sustained by a multi-decade trend. The scale of this growing market is reaching the critical mass that will make the market for vehicle procurements and state-of-good-repair investments strong and consistent year in and year out.

Market growth can be measured in a number of ways. Of the 35 light rail systems in existence today, only seven were present in 1980. Of the 28 commuter rail systems today, only 10 were in operation in 1980. Ridership on commuter rail, light rail, and heavy rail grew from 2.627 billion trips in 1995 to 4.513 billion trips in 2008, an increase of 72 percent.

Despite chronic underinvestment, annual passenger trips aboard Amtrak have risen from 21 million in 2000 to 28.7 million in 2010, a 37 percent increase. In 2010, annual passenger trips were at their highest level ever.

Figure 1: Amtrak Annual Ridership Trend

Download full version (PDF): The Case for Business Investment In High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail

About American Public Transportation Association
“APTA is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 member organizations including public transportation systems; planning,  design, construction and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; and state associations and  departments of transportation…APTA and its members and staff work to ensure that public transportation is available and accessible for all Americans in communities across the country.”

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