Boardman: ‘Amtrak Long-distance Trains are Running Strong’

WASHINGTON – Amtrak’s long-distance trains are attracting more passengers as Amtrak continues to implement its comprehensive and multi-year Route Performance Improvement (RPI) program, officials said.

“Amtrak long-distance trains are running strong,” President and CEO Joseph Boardman said. “We are making changes, improving our service and passengers are responding favorably.”

Boardman noted total ridership on Amtrak’s 15 long-distance trains reached nearly 4.2 million in fiscal year 2009, an increase of 13 percent from fiscal year 2006. During the same period, the on-time performance of long-distance trains improved from 30 percent to 75 percent contributing to higher customer satisfaction scores, increasing from 65 percent to 80 percent.

This turnaround in long-distance trains is the result, in part, of the RPI process initiated by Amtrak in 2007 that focused on several routes addressing all elements of train service that impact the passenger experience. Employee-passenger interactions, staffing levels, food service and amenities, equipment cleanliness and reliability, stations, and schedules are part of the in-depth RPI analysis. Changes were made based on the findings.

For example, on the Coast Starlight (Los Angeles – Seattle), Amtrak upgraded sleeping cars, enhanced room service, re-trained employees to focus on high-level customer service delivery and just recently re-introduced full china service in the dining car. In addition, on the Lake Shore Limited (Chicago – New York / Boston), Amtrak added sleeping car service to Boston, overhauled the dining cars, introduced a menu with higher quality items, and changed the schedule to depart Chicago earlier in order to arrive earlier in New York.