SPRINGFIELD — Amtrak routes through Illinois that connect Chicago to St. Louis and Milwaukee saw record numbers of riders in the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, while the national passenger rail system turned in its best financial performance in several years.
Amtrak also reported its best financial performance in many years, taking in $3.3 billion in operating revenue, 3.6 percent better than 2018. That resulted in a net operating loss of $29.8 million, the closest the company has come to breaking even in its history.
Amtrak reported Nov. 8 that the Chicago-St. Louis corridor recorded 756,062 riders during the fiscal year, up 5.5 percent from the previous year, and 24 percent higher than fiscal year 2011.
The Amtrak “Hiawatha Service” between Chicago and Milwaukee gained nearly 38,000 passengers over the year, growing to 882,189, a 4.5 percent increase over 2018.
Zephyr, Sandburg in-state ridership rises
In-state, state-supported travel on the California Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, which stop at Princeton and Mendota, saw a decrease in passengers a year ago but saw an increase from 191,612 to 192,616 in fiscal year 2019. The long-distance Zephyr saw a 0.7 percent increase in ridership a year ago but saw a 1.8 percent decline, according to Amtrak’s statistical breakdown.
Note to readers: Shaw Media contributed to this report.