The increased ticket revenue was due to a 400,000 rise in passenger journeys to reach a record 31.3 million. Amtrak says this is the sixth consecutive year that it has carried more than 30 million passengers.

Amtrak covered 94% of its operating costs from ticket sales and other revenues, up from 92% in 2015. Unaudited total revenue in 2016 was $US 3.2bn. As a result, Amtrak reduced its operating loss by $US 78m to $US 227m, its lowest since 1973. Amtrak was also able to reduce its long-term debt of $US 71.4m.

“The results demonstrate the value we deliver to our customers and the vital role Amtrak plays in our nation’s transportation system,” says Amtrak’s chairman Mr Anthony Coscia. “We are off to another strong start for the new fiscal year.”

To boost ridership, Amtrak added coaches to its busiest trains, and offered new services such as allowing pets and bikes on trains.

“More and more customers recognise Amtrak as a smarter way to travel,” says Amtrak’s president and CEO Mr Wick Moorman. “We will continue to enhance the customer experience and strengthen our market position through investments such as next-generation high-speed rail for the Northeast Corridor, while at the same time remaining focused on running an efficient and effective company.”

In August, Amtrak announced it will be investing nearly $US 2.5bn in 28 new high-speed trains and infrastructure upgrades for Northeast Corridor linking Boston, New York and Washington DC. The new Alstom trains are expected to enter service at the beginning in 2021. Amtrak also plans major improvements at Washington DC Union Station, and to create Moynihan station in New York City to relieve congestion at Penn station, along with other major station investments in Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.