Amtrak Sees Boom in Riders as Fuel Costs Soar

But shrunken rail service is nearing capacity
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 21, 2008 10:10 AM CDT
Amtrak's Acela Express high-speed rail runs through the borough of Queens in New York City in this Nov. 16, 2000, file photo.    (AP Photo/Ed Betz)
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(Newser) – With fuel prices soaring, travelers are increasingly turning to Amtrak, which posted a record for passengers in May—not usually a big travel month, reports the New York Times. But the struggling rail service has shrunk so drastically since it was created in the '70s that it won't be able to respond to the passenger surge very quickly. “We’re starting to bump up against our own capacity constraints,” says an Amtrak rep.

Some routes are already sold out for popular dates in the summer, good news for the money-losing service. But Amtrack's suppliers have shrunk along with "passenger miles," and its challenges are complicated, financially and politically, the Times notes. And though Amtrak uses 17% less fuel than a car, and 33% less than an airplane, it's not immune to rising costs either.