Friday, October 30, 2009

Amtrak releases new strategic guidance and five-year plan

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With the release of new Strategic Guidance and the FY 2010-2014 Five Year Financial Plan, Amtrak aims to continue the solid ridership growth seen in recent years and position itself to maximize this historic moment in federal and state support for more passenger rail service, including for the development of high-speed rail corridors.

"Amtrak is moving into the future with clear goals and specific initiatives to secure and expand our leadership position in the increasingly competitive passenger rail industry," said Thomas Carper, chairman of the Amtrak board of directors.

Carper said the new Strategic Guidance sets the foundation for the FY 2010-2014 Five Year Financial Plan, and together they encompass the strategy for continuing Amtrak's ridership growth that has increased steadily from 21.6 million in FY 2002 to 27.2 million in FY 2009, with an all-time record high of 28.7 million in FY 2008.  

"We must think big, be innovative and pursue opportunities and decisions that make good business sense because the competition is real," said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman, stressing that he believes the national railroad's experience and depth of expert knowledge are assets that make Amtrak the right choice to operate new or expanded service.

The Strategic Guidance outlines the opportunities and challenges facing Amtrak in the new passenger rail environment where states have the primary role in developing new or expanded intercity and high-speed rail service. It establishes six broad goals to be safer, greener and healthier and to improve financial performance, customer service and meet national needs. Plus, it creates key performance indicators to measure progress.  

The FY 2010-2014 Five Year Financial Plan for the first time provides substantially detailed financial projections for Amtrak's revenue, operating costs, capital programs and debt service obligations. It also provides a comprehensive discussion of initiatives Amtrak is taking to fulfill its goals and key performance indicators with targets by which it will be measured.

Among the specific plans to be accomplished by the end of FY 2014 are to increase ridership by 15 percent, grow ticket revenue by 20 percent, expand service on eight existing state-supported corridors, form two new state partnerships and improve reliability of service across the railroad.

The two documents combined create a new vision that supersedes Amtrak's 2005 Strategic Reform Initiatives and align Amtrak's goals with those passed by Congress in Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 and in the Obama administration's Vision for High-Speed Rail in America.  

Amtrak also is partnering with and assisting states as they apply for federal grants to develop high-speed rail corridors, preparing a new fleet plan to replace aging locomotives and passenger rail cars, upgrading tracks and other infrastructure and installing Positive Train Control technology to enhance safety. In addition, Amtrak plans to deploy Wi-Fi technology on Acela Express, implement next generation reservation and eTicketing programs and improve accessibility for persons with disabilities to Amtrak trains, platforms and stations.

Further, Amtrak is continuing to make lasting investments in all aspects of the railroad including improved business management processes, better on-board services, and modernizing existing passenger car interiors.

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