The number of rail passengers using St. Cloud's Amtrak station is holding largely steady.
Riders boarding or getting off Amtrak's Empire Builder passenger trains at depot in downtown St. Cloud numbered 13,537 in fiscal year 2013, according to a report released Monday. In fiscal year 2012, St. Cloud's depot served 13,740 passengers.
Amtrak, a major transportation player in the Northeast with less saturation on its long-distance western routes, carried a record 31.6 million passengers systemwide during the latest fiscal year. It was the 10th ridership record in 11 years, according to the organization.
St. Cloud's 115-year-old depot at 555 St. Germain St. is served by Amtrak's Empire Builder route. Passengers make two daily stops in St. Cloud, at 5:14 a.m. on the eastbound route and 12:40 a.m. on the westbound run.
The Empire Builder runs across the Northern states, linking Chicago, Seattle and Portland in a 46-hour trip.
The Empire Builder carried almost 536,400 passengers last fiscal year, making it the busiest of Amtrak's long-distance routes.
St. Cloud's ridership decline of about 1.48 percent was slightly steeper than the 1.23 percent decline seen overall on the Empire Builder route. Ticket revenue on the route was up 1.1 percent during the latest fiscal year, however, to $67.4 million from $66.7 million in the 2012 fiscal year.
Ticket revenue systemwide also set a record at $2.1 billion for fiscal year 2013.
St. Cloud's passenger count is third among Minnesota Amtrak stations. The Twin Cities served 116,991 riders last fiscal year, trailed by Winona with 23,507. Red Wing and Staples stations round out the top five; neither broke the 10,000-rider mark.
In total, 175,622 passengers boarded or arrived on Amtrak trains in Minnesota during the reporting period.
Amtrak paid 40 workers $3.44 million in wages during fiscal year 2012. The rail corporation says it spent more than $19 million in the state on other expenses during that year.
Amtrak in the upper Midwest
Ridership in Minnesota and surrounding states:
State FY2013 FY2012 Routes
Minnesota 175,622 181,535 Empire Builder
North Dakota 154,800 154,864 Empire Builder
Wisconsin 927,782 947,098 Empire Builder
Iowa 59,825 59,169 California Zephyr and Southwest Chief
Copyright 2013 - St. Cloud Times, Minn.