Originally Posted by electricron
Maybe you can separate the management of Amtrak's trains into three groups, but you can't do so operationally. All the long distance trains and most of the regional routes, through Amtrak's biggest station (New York), run at least partially on the Northeast Corridor. Most New York City trains never leave the Northeast Corridor.
Therefore, any improvements you make on the Northeast Corridor are going to improve certain long distance and regional trains too.
As already pointed out, most NYC commuter trains don't operate on the NEC (Northeast Corridor). But improvements and expansion of the various corridor routes across the US would also greatly benefit the long distance (LD) trains. Improving 100s of miles of a freight line to fix the bottlenecks and major slow points and upgrading the max speeds to 79, 90, or even 110 mph, so the average speed of the passenger trains over the 300-400 mile corridor go from 45 mph to, say, 70 or 80 mph, will improve the ridership, ticket revenue, market share for the LD trains runing over that segment.
The Mid-West Regional Rail Plan with 90 and 110 mph corridors, if built as planned, even if it does have not have true HSR speeds, would make a big difference in travel options in the mid-West and might result in more LD trains. The Southeast Corridor plans for VA and NC would improve the trip times for the LD trains from NYC to Florida and Atlanta/New Orleans.
As for jtk1519's post "No flame intended, but is that supposed to be an impressive figure? 28.7 million riders on 21,000 miles worth of routes = just 1,367 annual riders per mile. That's 78,630 riders per day for the entire system.", well most of those miles are the LD routes over freight lines with 1 train a day. Or for 2 LD trains, the Sunset Limited and Cardinal, only 3 days a week - although Amtrak is working to change those two to daily service. The LD trains had 4.47 million passengers in FY2010, so people do ride them.
But if we are looking at ridership per mile, then we should look at the numbers for the electrified NEC and Keystone East Corridors, where Amtrak owns most of the tracks (Amtrak owns 363 of the 457 miles of the NEC and the 104 miles of the Keystone East corridor). In FY2010, there were a total of 10.375 million passengers on the Acelas and Northeast Regionals on the NEC spine plus 1.297 million on the Keystone service trains. The Keystone trains also run on the NEC from Philly to NYC, so they have to be included for total Amtrak NEC numbers. The Vermonter, the Carolinian, and the Pennsylvanian also run a part of the their route on the NEC with people able to take them between stations on the NEC, but their ridership numbers (598 thousand total) are not (publicly) broken down, so I will have to set them aside. There are also 5 LD trains that run on the NEC between NYC and WAS, but those are pick-up or discharge only on the NEC, so we'll set them aside as well.
So for the NEC corridor trains, knowing these numbers are low, that works out to 20,805 annual Amtrak riders per mile. Or around 32,000 passengers a day over the 561 miles of electrified tracks. The daily passenger numbers on the NEC are far greater for the MARC, SEPTA, NJ Transit, Metro-North, SLE, MBTA commuter trains that operate on some portion of the NEC, but far more people commute to work every day than travel between cities.
If the NEC improvement plans in the 80s and 90s had been able to maintain their funding and Amtrak had achieved the long standing goal of less than 2:30 trip time between DC and NYC and 3 hours between NYC and Boston for the Acelas, Amtrak would have larger NEC ridership numbers.