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Amtrak: News Release - January 23, 2000: AMTRAK SURPASSES BUSINESS PLAN TARGET
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National Railroad Passenger Corporation
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Contact: John Wolf
(202) 906-3770
January 23, 1999

Corporation Announces Historic Launch Of Acela Regional Service Unveiling Electric Train Travel In New England

WASHINGTON -- Amtrak is reporting that the corporation beat its business plan target by more than $2 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2000 (Oct. 1, 1999 – Dec. 31, 1999) with total revenue up 8 percent to $476 million. Since Amtrak’s Board of Directors adopted the current business plan in 1998, the corporation has surpassed its business plan targets for two consecutive years. The business plan is the corporation’s blueprint to meet Congress’ mandate that the railroad become operationally self-sufficiency by 2003.

"We are keeping our commitment to Congress and the American people to run Amtrak like a business and we continue to achieve solid financial improvement," said Gov. Tommy Thompson, Amtrak’s chairman of the board.

In addition to announcing first quarter results, Amtrak revealed the much-anticipated launch of its Acela Regional service between Boston and New York has been scheduled for Jan. 31. A celebration at Boston’s South Station will mark not only the historic introduction of electric train service to Boston but also the first step in the corporation’s high-speed program. Tickets for Acela Regional, the companion service to Acela Express, will go on sale Jan. 25. Acela Regional service will reduce travel times between Boston and New York from about five hours to just under four hours.

"The launch of Acela Regional is another milestone in the high-speed program in the Northeast that will boost our ridership and revenue and positively impact the bottom line," said George Warrington, Amtrak’s president and chief executive officer. "Other components of our business plan, such as the completion of Amtrak’s most comprehensive market analysis of its route system and the full implementation of our program to deliver world-class service on every train, every day will speed our financial turnaround."

In Amtrak’s national system, many trains saw increased ridership in the first quarter. For the corporation, ridership increased for a record 12th consecutive quarter by 1 percent compared to last year. This modest increase is significant when contrasted with the decline in the travel industry caused by Y2K.

One highlight of the growth was the Texas Eagle that was saved from elimination by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and state and local officials. Through aggressive marketing efforts with the communities served by the train, ridership grew 17 percent for the quarter. Other major trains showing significant improvement include the Capitols (Oakland -- Sacramento, Calif.), up 33 percent and Metroliner (New York – Washington, D.C.), up 7 percent.

To supplement its core passenger-related revenue, Amtrak is aggressively pursuing commercial opportunities that will help achieve operational self-sufficiency. The corporation is reporting that revenue from its express shipment business increased 55 percent from last year to $5.4 million. (Express is the shipment of time sensitive goods currently transported by trucks.) Revenue from Amtrak’s commercial lines of business, such as real estate and telecommunications, increased by 7 percent to $17 million compared to the first quarter the year before. Both express and commercial lines of business beat the targets set in the business plan.

The financial accomplishments have recently resulted in growing private sector confidence in Amtrak. Moody’s Investor Services raised the corporation’s credit rating to A3, noting it was based partly on "…Moody’s expectation that operational self-sufficiency will be achieved..."

Amtrak operates a 22,000-mile intercity passenger rail system, serving more than 500 communities in 45 states. Under Amtrak's new leadership, the corporation is turning the corner to become a successful business enterprise. As part of its turnaround, Amtrak is focusing on growing public and private business partnerships, improving and guaranteeing consistency and quality of service, introducing high-speed rail in the Northeast, and developing other high-speed rail corridors nationwide. For more information about Amtrak, including schedules, fares and reservations visit Amtrak’s Web site at