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Two busy Amtrak train lines set ridership records in California

Two busy Amtrak train lines set ridership records in California
Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner makes its way along the Ventura County coastline. The Surfliner had more than 2.7 million riders last year. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Amtrak-California set ridership records last year on two of its busiest long distance lines in the state — the Pacific Surfliner along the coast and the San Joaquin through the Central Valley.

Rail officials announced Thursday that the two lines, which are funded by Caltrans, carried almost 3.93 million passengers for the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2013. That represents an increase of more than 110,000 riders from the year before.

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"In California, a rail renaissance is underway," Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said. "Train travel is increasingly seen as a smart option."

The Pacific Surfliner has operated since 1976 between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. The San Joaquin runs between Bakersfield, Sacramento and the Bay Area. Passengers from Los Angeles can reach the San Joaquin service via bus service from Union Station.

Caltrans officials said the Surfliner had more than 2.7 million riders last year, while the San Joaquin carried more than 1.2 million passengers. Both are records.

Amtrak-California also operates the Capitol Corridor from the Bay Area to Sacramento. Its ridership dropped about 45,000 last year to about 1.7 million.

Caltrans provides $109 million annually to its cooperative arrangement with Amtrak to operate the three lines.

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