More than 10,000 passengers took Amtrak to or from Charleston in fiscal year 2013 — the highest number recorded at the station in recent years and about a 2 percent increase over fiscal year 2012.
Combined ridership at all 10 Amtrak stations in West Virginia also rose about 2 percent over fiscal year 2012, with 56,112 passengers beginning or ending their trips in the Mountain State. Seven of those stations saw increases in passenger numbers.
Amtrak announced the numbers for fiscal year 2013 on Monday, and reported a nationwide record ridership of 31.6 million passengers — its highest ever since the railroad began operation in 1971.
Charleston was Amtrak's second-busiest station in West Virginia, with 10,038 passengers boarding and alighting at the station on MacCorkle Avenue. In fiscal year 2012, 9,799 passengers used the Charleston station, according to Amtrak statistics.
Charleston is served by Amtrak's Cardinal route, which runs between New York City and Chicago via Washington, D.C., Cincinnati and Indianapolis. The train runs three times in each direction weekly.
Huntington recorded the highest passenger numbers in the state, with 11,186 boardings and alightings. That's lower than the 11,743 passengers coming through the River City in 2012.
Rounding out the top five stations in the Mountain State were Martinsburg, with 9,331 passengers; Hinton, with 8,897 passengers; and Harpers Ferry, with 6,287 passengers. All three stations had higher numbers than fiscal year 2012.
Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry are on Amtrak's daily Capitol Limited line and are also served by MARC commuter rail. Hinton is on the Cardinal route.
Amtrak also serves Montgomery, Alderson, Prince, Thurmond and White Sulphur Springs on the Cardinal route.
The station at Thurmond had the biggest jump among all Amtrak stations in the state. Amtrak reported 563 passengers arriving or departing at Thurmond, a 113 percent increase over the previous year, when 264 passengers used the station.
Prince saw about a 9 percent jump, recording 3,406 passengers in fiscal year 2013 compared to 3,125 the year before.
Thurmond and Prince are the two closest stations to The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette and Raleigh counties. The first national Jamboree at the site was held in July.
Passenger numbers rose in Montgomery as well, to 614 from 580 the previous year.
Numbers fell in White Sulphur Springs, to 5,206 from 5,985, and in Alderson, which recorded 586 passengers down from 603.
A 2012 report by The National Association of Railroad Passengers, a passenger rail advocacy organization, stated that Chicago was the top destination for Charleston passengers, followed by Washington, D.C. However, those destinations may not be the final stop for passengers if they connected to other trains.
The Cardinal route carried 113,103 passengers in fiscal year 2013, a 2.8 percent decrease from the previous year. However, revenue from the Cardinal increased 2.6 percent, bringing in $7,733,458.
The Capitol Limited, which runs daily from Washington to Chicago (with stops in Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry), carried 229,668 passengers in fiscal year 2013, a 1.2 percent increase. Revenue from that line jumped 4.4 percent, to $21,373,833.
Copyright 2013 - Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.