RALEIGH - Amtrak delivered a late Christmas gift this week to North Carolina's passenger rail system in the form of holiday ridership numbers, which show that more people than ever are choosing the train for their travel.
"These numbers indicate that a growing number of people are viewing the train as a simple and affordable way to reach their destination during the holidays and at all times of the year," said Rail Division Director Paul Worley.
Nearly 26,000 passengers rode the state-owned Piedmont and Carolinian trains this past Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's an increase of more than 2,000 riders compared to the 2012 season.
The Christmas holiday, from Dec. 20-29, saw the largest number of tickets sold, with almost 15,000 passengers boarding during that time period -a couple hundred more than the year before. The Thanksgiving holiday, from Nov. 25-Dec. 1, saw the biggest jump in ridership with an increase of more than 2,000 passengers compared to 2012.
North Carolina's Piedmont and Carolinian trains continue to be among the most rapidly growing in the Amtrak system, setting new ridership and revenue records in Federal Fiscal Year 2013. To keep up with increasing demand, the NCDOT Rail Division is currently investing $520 million through the Piedmont Improvement Program to expand and improve the state-owned rail corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte for freight and passenger trains and add two additional daily round trips of the Piedmont Service.
The breakdowns for this year's holiday ridership are as follows:
Christmas (Dec. 20-29, 2013)
Thanksgiving (Nov. 25-Dec. 1, 2013)