The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak
/ˈæmtræk/, is a passenger railroad service that provides medium-
and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States
and to three Canadian cities.
Founded 47 years ago in 1971 as a quasi-public corporation to
operate many U.S. passenger rail services, it receives a
combination of state and federal subsidies but is managed as a
for-profit organization. Amtrak's headquarters is located in Union
Station in Washington, D.C.
Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three
Canadian provinces, operating more than 300 trains daily over 21,300
miles (34,000 km) of track. Some track sections allow trains to
run as fast as 150 mph (240 km/h).
In fiscal year 2016,
Amtrak served 31.3 million passengers and
had $2.192 billion in revenue, while employing more than 20,000
people. Nearly 85,700 passengers ride more than 300
Amtrak trains on a
daily basis. Nearly two-thirds of passengers come from the 10
largest metropolitan areas; 83% of passengers travel on routes shorter
than 400 miles (645 km).
The name "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "trak",
the latter itself a sensational spelling of "track".
1.1 Private passenger service
1.3 1970s: The Rainbow Era
1.4 The 1980s and 1990s
1.5 Growth in the 21st century
2.3 Intermodal connections
2.4 On-time performance
2.6 Guest Rewards
2.7 Commuter services
2.9 Rolling stock
3 On-board services
3.1 Classes of service
3.2 WiFi and electronic services
4 Company Officers
4.2 Board of Directors
5 Labor Issues
6 Public funding
6.1 Funding history
6.1.1 1970s to 1990s
8 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
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See also: History of rail transport in the United States
Private passenger service
Pennsylvania Railroad's Congressional in the 1960s
In 1916, 98% of all commercial intercity travelers in the United
States moved by rail, and the remaining 2% moved by inland
waterways. Nearly 42 million passengers used railways as primary
transportation. Passenger trains were owned and operated by the
same privately owned companies that operated freight trains. As
the 20th century progressed, patronage declined in the face of
competition from buses, air travel, and the automobile. New
streamlined diesel-powered trains such as the
Pioneer Zephyr were
popular with the traveling public but could not reverse the trend.
By 1940 railroads held just 67 percent of commercial passenger-miles
in the United States. In real terms, passenger-miles had fallen by 40%
since 1916, from 42 billion to 25 billion.
Traffic surged during World War II, which was aided by troop movement
and gasoline rationing. The railroad's market share surged to 74% in
1945, with a massive 94 billion passenger-miles. After the war,
railroads rejuvenated their overworked and neglected passenger fleets
with fast and luxurious streamliners. These new trains brought
only temporary relief to the overall decline. Even as postwar
travel exploded, passenger travel percentages of the overall market
share fell to 46% by 1950, and then 32% by 1957. The railroads had
lost money on passenger service since the Great Depression, but
deficits reached $723 million in 1957. For many railroads, these
losses threatened financial viability.
The causes of this decline were heavily debated. The National Highway
System and airports, both funded by the government, competed directly
with the railroads, who paid for their own infrastructure.
Progressive Era rate regulation limited the railroad's ability to turn
a profit. Railroads also faced antiquated work rules and
inflexible relationships with trade unions. To take one example,
workers continued to receive a day's pay for 100-to-150-mile (160 to
240 km) work days. Streamliners covered that in two hours.
Matters approached a crisis in the 1960s. Passenger service
route-miles fell from 107,000 miles (172,000 km) in 1958 to
49,000 miles (79,000 km) in 1970, the last full year of private
operation. The diversion of most
U.S. Postal Service
U.S. Postal Service mail from
passenger trains to trucks, airplanes, and freight trains in late 1967
deprived those trains of badly needed revenue. In direct response,
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway filed to discontinue 33 of
its remaining 39 trains, ending almost all passenger service on one of
the largest railroads in the country. The equipment the railroads
had ordered after
World War II
World War II was now 20 years old, worn out, and in
need of replacement.
See also: List of railroads eligible to participate in the formation
The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad's Rio Grande Zephyr at
Denver's Union Station in April 1983
Penn Central Railroad's employee publication announcing the
Amtrak on May 1, 1971. Penn Central
Amtrak routes are
As passenger service declined various proposals were brought forward
to rescue it. The 1961 Doyle Report proposed that the private
railroads pool their services into a single body. Similar
proposals were made in 1965 and 1968, but failed to attract support.
The federal government passed the High Speed Ground Transportation Act
of 1965 to fund pilot programs in the Northeast Corridor, but this did
nothing to address passenger deficits. In late 1969 multiple proposals
emerged in Congress, including equipment subsidies, route subsidies,
and, lastly, a "quasi-public corporation" to take over the operation
of intercity passenger trains. Matters were brought to a head on March
5, 1970, when the Penn Central, the largest railroad in the Northeast
United States and teetering on bankruptcy, filed to discontinue 34 of
its passenger trains.
In October 1970, Congress passed, and President
Richard Nixon signed
into law, the Rail Passenger Service Act. Proponents of the bill,
led by the
National Association of Railroad Passengers
National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), sought
government funding to ensure the continuation of passenger trains.
They conceived the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (NRPC), a
private entity that would receive taxpayer funding and assume
operation of intercity passenger trains. The original working
brand name for NRPC was Railpax, but shortly before the company
started operating it was changed to Amtrak. There were several key
Any railroad operating intercity passenger service could contract with
the NRPC, thereby joining the national system.
Participating railroads bought into the NRPC using a formula based on
their recent intercity passenger losses. The purchase price could be
satisfied either by cash or rolling stock; in exchange, the railroads
received NRPC common stock.
Any participating railroad was freed of the obligation to operate
intercity passenger service after May 1, 1971, except for those
services chosen by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as part of a
"basic system" of service and paid for by NRPC using its federal
Railroads that chose not to join the NRPC system were required to
continue operating their existing passenger service until 1975 and
thenceforth had to pursue the customary ICC approval process for any
discontinuance or alteration to the service.
Of the 26 railroads still offering intercity passenger service in
1970, only six declined to join Amtrak. Nearly everyone involved
expected the experiment to be short-lived. The Nixon administration
and many Washington insiders viewed the NRPC as a politically
expedient way for the President and Congress to give passenger trains
a "last hurrah" as demanded by the public. They expected
quietly disappear as public interest waned. After Fortune magazine
exposed the manufactured mismanagement in 1974, Louis W. Menk,
chairman of the Burlington Northern Railroad, remarked that the story
was undermining the scheme to dismantle Amtrak. Proponents also
hoped that government intervention would be brief, but their view was
Amtrak would soon support itself. Neither view has proved
correct. Popular support has allowed
Amtrak to continue in operation
longer than critics imagined, while financial results have made a
return to private operation infeasible.
1970s: The Rainbow Era
A Burlington Northern
EMD F3 leads the
North Coast Hiawatha
North Coast Hiawatha into
Yakima, Washington, in July 1971, an example of early
consists, made up of equipment still painted in the colors of various
Amtrak began operations on May 1, 1971.
Amtrak received no
rail tracks or rights-of-way at its inception. All Amtrak's routes
were continuations of prior service, although
Amtrak pruned about half
the passenger rail network. Of the 364 trains operated previously,
Amtrak only continued 182. On trains that continued, to the extent
possible, schedules were retained with only minor changes from the
Official Guide of the Railways, and under the same names.[citation
needed] Several major corridors became freight-only, including the
ex-New York Central Railroad's
Water Level Route
Water Level Route across New York and
Ohio and Grand Trunk Western Railroad's Chicago to Detroit route.
Reduced passenger train schedules created headaches. A 19-hour layover
became necessary for eastbound travel on the James Whitcomb Riley
between Chicago and Newport News.
Amtrak inherited problems with train stations, most notably deferred
maintenance, and redundant facilities resulting from competing
companies that served the same areas. On the day it started, Amtrak
was given the responsibility of rerouting passenger trains from the
seven train terminals in Chicago (LaSalle, Dearborn, Grand Central,
Randolph, Chicago Northwestern Terminal, Central, and Union) into just
one, Union Station. In New York City,
Amtrak had to pay to maintain
both Penn Station and
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal because of the lack of
track connections to bring trains from upstate New York into Penn
Station, a problem not rectified until the building of the Empire
Connection in 1991.
Amtrak would abandon numerous
large stations whose upkeep could no longer be justified.[citation
needed] On the other hand, the creation of the Los Angeles–Seattle
Coast Starlight from three formerly separate trains was an immediate
success, requiring an increase to daily service by 1973.
Amtrak logo displayed at the Oakland – Jack London Square
Amtrak's early years are often called the Rainbow Era, which refers to
the ad hoc arrangement of the rolling stock and locomotives from a
pool of equipment acquired by
Amtrak at its formation, that consisted
of a large mix of paint schemes from their former owners. This
rolling stock, which for the most part still bore the pre-Amtrak
colors and logos, formed the multi-colored consists of early Amtrak
trains. By mid-1971,
Amtrak began purchasing some of the equipment it
had leased, including 286 second-hand locomotives (of the EMD E and F
types), 30 GG1 electric locomotives and 1,290 passenger cars, and
continued leasing even more motive power. By 1975, the official Amtrak
color scheme was painted on most
Amtrak equipment and newly purchased
locomotives and rolling stock began appearing.
EMD SDP40F with the
San Francisco Zephyr
San Francisco Zephyr in 1975. By the
Amtrak equipment was acquiring its own identity.
Amtrak soon had the opportunity to acquire rights-of-way. Following
the bankruptcy of several northeastern railroads in the early 1970s,
including Penn Central, which owned and operated the Northeast
Corridor (NEC), Congress passed the Railroad Revitalization and
Regulatory Reform Act of 1976. A large part of the legislation was
directed to the creation of Conrail, but the law also enabled the
transfer of the portions of the NEC not already owned by state
authorities to Amtrak.
Amtrak acquired the majority of the NEC on
April 1, 1976. (The portion in Massachusetts is owned by the
Commonwealth and managed by Amtrak. The route from New Haven to New
Rochelle is owned by the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the
Connecticut Department of Transportation
Connecticut Department of Transportation as the New Haven
Line.) This main line became Amtrak's "jewel" asset,
and helped the railroad generate revenue. While the NEC ridership and
revenues were higher than any other segment of the system, the cost of
operating and maintaining the corridor proved to be overwhelming. As a
result, Amtrak's federal subsidy was increased dramatically. In
subsequent years, other short route segments not needed for freight
operations were transferred to Amtrak.
In its first decade,
Amtrak fell far short of financial independence,
which continues today, but it did find modest success rebuilding
trade. Outside factors discouraged competing transport, such as fuel
shortages which increased costs of automobile and airline travel, and
strikes which disrupted airline operations. Investments in Amtrak's
track, equipment and information also made
Amtrak more relevant to
America's transportation needs. Amtrak's ridership increased
from 16.6 million in 1972 to 21 million in 1981.
The 1980s and 1990s
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2015)
EMD AEM-7 with a Metroliner in 1987. The AEM-7 was Amtrak's
workhorse on electrified routes for over 30 years.
EMD F40PH leads the
California Zephyr in 1995. The
the unreliable SDP40F.
In 1982 former Secretary of the Navy and retired Southern Railway head
William Graham Claytor Jr. came out of retirement to lead
Amtrak.[page needed] Despite frequent clashes with the Reagan
administration over funding, Claytor enjoyed a good relationship with
John H. Riley, the head of the
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA),
and with members of Congress. Limited funding led Claytor to use
short-term debt to fund operations.
Building on mechanical developments in the 1970s, high speed
Washington-New York Metroliner Service was improved with new equipment
and faster schedules. Travel time between New York and Washington D.C
was reduced to under 3 hours. According to the 1980
Report, a converted 12-car set saved the company approximately
$250,000 a year in fuel, maintenance and yard support costs. Amtrak
completed the head-end power conversion program in 1982. Demand for
passenger rail service resulted in the creation of five new
state-supported routes in California, Illinois, Missouri, Oregon and
Pennsylvania, for a total of 15 state-supported routes across the
Ridership stagnated at roughly 20 million passengers per year
amid uncertain government aid from 1981 to about 2000. Thomas
Downs succeeded Claytor in 1993. Amtrak's stated goal remained
"operational self-sufficiency." By this time, however,
Amtrak had a
large overhang of debt from years of underfunding, and in the
Amtrak suffered through a serious cash crunch. Under Downs,
Congress included a provision in the
Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 that
Amtrak receiving a $2.3 billion tax refund that
resolved their cash crisis. However, Congress also instituted a
"glide-path" to financial self-sufficiency, excluding railroad
retirement tax act payments.
George Warrington became president in 1998 with a mandate to make
Amtrak financially self-sufficient. Passengers became "guests" and
there were expansions into express freight work, but the financial
plans failed. Amtrak's inroads in express freight delivery created
additional friction with competing freight operators, including the
trucking industry. Delivery was delayed of much anticipated high-speed
trainsets for the improved
Acela Express service, which promised to be
a strong source of income and favorable publicity along the Northeast
Boston and Washington, D.C.
Growth in the 21st century
Acela Express at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, in 2011
In the 21st century
Amtrak replaced its
F40PH units with the GE
Genesis. Pictured are
Amtrak engines #1 and #56, both
GE Genesis P42DC
diesels, pulling the eastbound
California Zephyr at Grand Junction,
Colorado, April 2012
Talgo equipment on the state-funded
Amtrak Cascades in 2006. Amtrak
partnerships with state governments grew throughout the early 2000s
Ridership increased during the first decade of the 21st century after
implementation of capital improvements in the NEC and rises in
automobile fuel costs. The inauguration of the high-speed Acela
Express in late 2000 generated considerable publicity and led to major
ridership gains. However, through the late 1990s and very early 21st
Amtrak could not add sufficient express freight revenue or
cut sufficient other expenditures to break even. By 2002, it was clear
Amtrak could not achieve self-sufficiency, but Congress continued
to authorize funding and released
Amtrak from the requirement. In
David L. Gunn
David L. Gunn replaced Warrington as president. In a
departure from his predecessors' promises to make Amtrak
self-sufficient in the short term, Gunn argued that no form of
passenger transportation in the
United States is self-sufficient as
the economy is currently structured. Highways, airports, and air
traffic control all require large government expenditures to build and
operate, coming from the
Highway Trust Fund and Aviation Trust Fund
paid for by user fees, highway fuel and road taxes, and, in the case
of the General Fund, from general taxation. Gunn dropped most
freight express business and worked to eliminate deferred
A plan by the Bush administration "to privatize parts of the national
passenger rail system and spin off other parts to partial state
ownership" provoked disagreement within Amtrak's board of directors.
Late in 2005 Gunn was fired. Gunn's replacement, Alexander Kummant
(2006–08), was committed to operating a national rail network, and,
like Gunn, opposed the notion of putting the
Northeast Corridor under
separate ownership. He said that shedding the system's
long-distance routes would amount to selling national assets that are
on par with national parks, and that Amtrak's abandonment of these
routes would be irreversible. In late 2006,
sought annual congressional funding of $1 billion for ten
years. In early 2007,
Amtrak employed 20,000 people in 46 states
and served 25 million passengers a year, its highest amount since its
founding in 1970.
Politico noted a key problem: "the rail system
chronically operates in the red. A pattern has emerged: Congress
overrides cutbacks demanded by the White House and appropriates enough
funds to keep
Amtrak from plunging into insolvency. But, Amtrak
advocates say, that is not enough to fix the system's woes." 
Joseph H. Boardman
Joseph H. Boardman replaced Kummant as President and CEO in late
2008. In 2011,
Amtrak announced its intention to build a small
segment of a high-speed rail corridor from Penn Station in NYC, under
the Hudson River in new tunnels, and double-tracking the line to
Newark, NJ called the Gateway Project, estimated to cost
$13.5 billion. After years of almost revolving-door
CEOs at Amtrak, in December 2013, Boardman was named "Railroader of
the Year" by Railway Age magazine, which noted that with over five
years in the job, he is the second-longest serving head of Amtrak
since it was formed more than 40 years ago.
From May 2011 to May 2012,
Amtrak celebrated its 40th anniversary with
festivities across the country that started on National Train Day (May
7, 2011). A commemorative book entitled Amtrak: An American Story was
published, and a documentary was created. Six commemorative Heritage
units a 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train toured the country. The Exhibit
Train visited 45 communities and welcomed more than 85,000
visitors. It was an entirely rebuilt train powered by GE Genesis
locomotives and included three refurbished ex-Santa Fe baggage cars
and a food service car. Four Genesis locomotives were painted into
Amtrak paint schemes: No. 156 was in Phase 1 colors, No. 66
was in Phase 2 colors, No. 145 and No. 822 were in Phase 3 colors (822
pulled the Exhibit train), and No. 184 was in Phase 4
colors. In 2014
Amtrak began offering a "residency" program
On December 9, 2015, Boardman announced in a letter to employees that
he would be leaving
Amtrak in September 2016. He had advised the
Amtrak Board of Directors of his decision the previous week. On August
19, 2016, the
Amtrak Board of Directors named former Norfolk Southern
Railway President & CEO Charles "Wick" Moorman as Boardman's
successor with an effective date of September 1, 2016. During his
term, Moorman took no salary and said that he saw his role as one
of a “transitional CEO” who would reorganize
Amtrak before turning
it over to new leadership.
In May and June 2017, following several service disruptions within
Pennsylvania Station and the East River Tunnels, the train service
announced an expedited schedule for maintenance and repairs of
infrastructure, which involves the complete shutdown of multiple
tracks at a time.
Amtrak has faced criticism from commuters as
well as politicians for these incidents, prompting responses from
figures such as
New Jersey governor
Chris Christie and New York
governor Andrew Cuomo. The repairs are expected to take place in
Summer 2017, affecting the
Long Island Rail Road
Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey
Transit trains during all hours, who have planned additional or
In June 2017, it was announced that former Delta and Northwest
Airlines CEO Richard Anderson would become Amtrak's next President
& CEO.  Anderson began the job on July 12, assuming the title
of President immediately and serving alongside Moorman as "co-CEOs"
until the end of the year.
Main articles: List of
Amtrak routes, List of busiest
and List of major cities in U.S. lacking
Amtrak is no longer required by law to operate a national route
system, but it is encouraged to do so.
Amtrak has presence in 46
of the 48 contiguous states (lacking
Wyoming and South Dakota). Amtrak
services fall into three groups: short-haul service on the Northeast
Corridor, state-supported short haul service outside the Northeast
Corridor, and long-distance service known within
Amtrak as the
Amtrak receives federal funding for the vast
majority of its operations including the central spine of the
Northeast Corridor between
Boston and Washington DC as well as for its
National long distance routes. In addition to the federally funded
Amtrak partners with transportation agencies in 18 states to
operate other short and medium haul routes outside of the Northeast
Corridor, some of which connect to it or are extensions off of it. In
addition to its inter-city services,
Amtrak also operates commuter
services for three state agencies including MARC in Maryland, Shore
Line East in Connecticut, and Metrolink in California.
The Illinois Central Railroad's
Panama Limited long-distance diesel
Service on the Northeast Corridor, between Boston, and Washington,
D.C., as well as between
Philadelphia and Harrisburg, is powered by
overhead electric wires; for the rest of the system, diesel
locomotives are used. Routes vary widely in frequency of service, from
three-days-a-week trains on the
Sunset Limited to weekday service
several times per hour on the
Northeast Corridor (NEC). Amtrak
also operates a captive bus service, Thruway Motorcoach, which
provides connections to train routes.
The most popular and heavily used services are those running on the
NEC, including the
Acela Express and Northeast Regional. The NEC runs
Washington, D.C. via
New York City
New York City and Philadelphia.
Some services continue into Virginia. The NEC services accounted for
11.91 million of Amtrak's 31.3 million passengers in fiscal
year 2016. Outside the NEC the most popular services are the
short-haul corridors in California. These include the Pacific
Surfliner, Capitol Corridor, and San Joaquin, supplemented by an
extensive network of connecting buses. Together the California
corridor trains accounted for a combined 5,607,232 passengers in
fiscal year 2016. Other popular corridors include the Empire
Service, which operates between
New York City
New York City and Toronto,
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York and carried 1,510,285 passengers in
FY2016, and the
Keystone Service from
New York City
New York City to Harrisburg,
Philadelphia that carried 1,467,216 passengers that
Four of the six stations busiest by boardings are on the NEC: New York
(Penn Station) (first), Washington (Union Station) (second),
Philadelphia (30th Street Station) (third), and
Boston (South Station)
(sixth). The other two are Chicago (Union Station) (fourth) and Los
Angeles (Union Station) (fifth).
Per passenger mile,
Amtrak is 30–40 percent more
energy-efficient than commercial airlines and automobiles overall,
though the exact figures for particular routes depend on load factor
along with other variables. The electrified trains in the NEC are
considerably more efficient than Amtrak's diesels and can feed energy
captured from regenerative braking back to the electrical grid.
Passenger rail is also very competitive with other modes in terms of
safety per mile.
per passenger mile
Deaths per 100
million passenger miles
2,931 BTU/mi (1,922 kJ/km)
2,656 BTU/mi (1,741 kJ/km)
1,745 BTU/mi (1,144 kJ/km)
3,501 BTU/mi (2,295 kJ/km)
On-time performance is calculated differently for airlines than for
Amtrak. A plane is considered on-time if it arrives within 15 minutes
of the schedule.
Amtrak uses a sliding scale, with trips under 250
miles (400 km) considered late if they are more than 10 minutes
behind schedule, up to 30 minutes for trips over 551 miles
(887 km) in length.
In 2005, Amtrak's carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per passenger
kilometre were 0.116 kg. For comparison, this is similar to a
car with two people, about twice as high as the UK rail average
(where much more of the system is electrified), about four times
the average US motorcoach, and about eight times a Finnish
electric intercity train or fully loaded fifty-seat coach. It is,
however, about two thirds of the raw CO2-equivalent emissions of a
long-distance domestic flight.
Intermodal connections between
Amtrak trains and other transportation
are available at many stations. Most
Amtrak rail stations in downtown
areas have connections to local public transport.
Amtrak also code
shares with United Airlines, providing service between Newark Liberty
Airport (via its
Amtrak station and AirTrain Newark) and
Philadelphia 30th St, Wilmington, Stamford, and New Haven. Special
codes are used to designate these intermodal routes, such as "ZVE" to
designate the combination of New Haven's Union Station and Newark
Airport and the
Amtrak connection between them. Amtrak
also serves airport stations at Milwaukee, Oakland, Burbank, and
Amtrak coordinates Thruway Motorcoach service to extend many of its
routes, especially in California.
Northeast Corridor and stretches of track in Southern
California and Michigan, most
Amtrak trains run on tracks owned and
operated by privately owned freight railroads. Freight rail operators
are required under federal law to give dispatching preference to
Amtrak trains. Some freight railroads have been accused of violating
or skirting these regulations, allegedly resulting in passenger trains
waiting in sidings for an hour or longer while waiting for freight
traffic to clear the track. The railroads' dispatching practices were
investigated in 2008, resulting in stricter laws about train
priority. Subsequently, Amtrak's overall on-time performance went up
from 74.7% in fiscal 2008 to 84.7% in 2009, with long-distance trains
and others outside the NEC seeing the greatest benefit. The Missouri
River Runner jumped from 11% to 95%, becoming one of Amtrak's best
Texas Eagle went from 22.4% to 96.7%, and the
California Zephyr, with a 5% on-time record in 2008, went up to
78.3%. This improved performance coincided with a general economic
downturn, resulting in the lowest freight-rail traffic volumes since
at least 1988, meaning less freight traffic to impede passenger
Annual ridership by fiscal year 1971–2012
Amtrak carried 15,848,327 passengers in 1972, its first full year of
operation. Ridership has increased steadily ever since, carrying a
record 31.739 million passengers in fiscal year 2017, double the total
Amtrak's loyalty program, Guest Rewards, is similar to the
frequent-flyer programs of many airlines. Guest Rewards members
accumulate points by riding
Amtrak and through other activities, and
can redeem these points for free or discounted
Amtrak tickets and
Main article: Commuter rail in North America
Through various commuter services,
Amtrak serves an additional
61.1 million passengers per year in conjunction with state and
regional authorities in California (through
Amtrak California and
Metrolink), Connecticut (through Shore Line East), and Maryland
(through MARC).
Amtrak catenary maintenance vehicle on the
Northeast Corridor in
Amtrak train with two AEM-7 locomotives running through
New Jersey on the Northeast Corridor
Along the NEC and in several other areas,
Amtrak owns 730 miles
(1,170 km) including 17 tunnels consisting of 29.7 miles
(47.8 km) of track, and 1,186 bridges (including the famous Hell
Gate Bridge) consisting of 42.5 miles (68.4 km) of track. In
several places, primarily in New England,
Amtrak leases tracks,
providing track maintenance and controlling train movements. Most
often, these tracks are leased from state, regional, or local
Amtrak owns and operates the following lines:
Northeast Corridor: the
Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C.
Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, New York and
Providence is largely owned by Amtrak, working cooperatively with
several state and regional commuter agencies. Between New
Haven, Connecticut, and New Rochelle, New York, Northeast Corridor
trains travel on the Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line, which is
owned and operated by the
Connecticut Department of Transportation
Connecticut Department of Transportation and
the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line: the
Philadelphia to Harrisburg
Main Line runs from
Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As a
result of an investment partnership with the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, signal and track improvements were completed in October
2006 that allow all-electric service with a top speed of 110 miles per
hour (180 km/h) to run along the corridor.
Amtrak owns the 11 miles (18 km) between New
York Penn Station and Spuyten Duyvil, New York. In 2012,
the 94 miles (151 km) between Poughkeepsie, New York, and
Schenectady, New York
Schenectady, New York from owner CSX. In addition,
Amtrak owns the
tracks across the
Whirlpool Rapids Bridge
Whirlpool Rapids Bridge and short approach sections
New Haven–Springfield Line:
Amtrak owns the 62 miles (100 km)
between New Haven and Springfield.
Amtrak acquired the west end of the former Michigan
Central main line from
Conrail in 1976.
Post Road Branch: 12.42 miles (19.99 km), Castleton-on-Hudson to
Rensselaer, New York
In addition to these lines
Amtrak owns station and yard tracks in
Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland (Kirkham
Street Yard), Orlando, Portland, Oregon, Saint Paul, Seattle, and
Amtrak leases station and yard tracks in Hialeah,
near Miami, Florida, from the State of Florida.
Amtrak owns the
Chicago Union Station
Chicago Union Station Company (Chicago Union Station)
and New York Penn Station. It has a 99.7% interest in the Washington
Terminal Company (tracks around Washington Union Station) and 99%
of 30th Street Limited (
Philadelphia 30th Street Station). Also owned
Amtrak is Passenger Railroad Insurance.
Main article: List of
Amtrak rolling stock
Amtrak owns 2,142 railway cars and 425 locomotives for revenue runs
and service. Examples include the GE P42DC, the Siemens ACS-64, the
Amfleet car, and the Superliner car. Occasionally private cars, or
loaned locomotives from other railroads can be found on
Classes of service
The interior of a
Viewliner sleeping car bedroom with the lower bed
The interior of a long-distance
Amfleet II coach
As of 2015[update]
Amtrak offers four classes of service: First Class,
Sleeper Service, Business Class, and Coach Class:
First Class: First Class service is currently offered only on the
Acela Express. Seats are larger than those of Business Class and come
in a variety of seating styles (single, facing singles with table,
double, facing doubles with table and wheelchair accessible). First
Class is located in a separate car from business class and is located
at the end of the train (to reduce the number of passengers walking in
the aisles). A car attendant provides passengers with hot towel
service, a complimentary meal and alcoholic beverages. First Class
passengers have access to ClubAcela lounges located at select
Sleeper Service: Sleeper Service comprises private room accommodations
on long-distance trains. Rooms are classified into roomettes,
bedrooms, accessible bedrooms, and family bedrooms (on some trains).
Included in the price of a room are full meals and attendant service.
At night, attendants convert rooms into sleeping areas with fold-down
beds and fresh linens. Shower facilities with towels and bar soap are
available. Complimentary juice, coffee and bottled water are included
as well. Sleeper car passengers have access to all passenger
facilities aboard the train. Sleeper passengers have access to
ClubAcela lounges, Metropolitan Lounges, and unattended First Class
Lounges located at select stations.
Business Class: Business Class seating is offered on the Acela
Express, Northeast Regional, many short-haul corridor trains and some
long-distance trains. Business Class is located in a dedicated car or
section of the train. While the specific features vary by route, many
include extra legroom and complimentary non-alcoholic drinks. Seats in
business class recline, are typically appointed in leather and feature
a fold-down tray table, foot rest, individual reading light, power
outlet. Business Class passengers have access to Metropolitan Lounges
located at select stations and may purchase a daily access pass to
select ClubAcela locations.
Coach Class: Coach Class is the standard class of service on all
Amtrak trains except the Acela Express. Seats in coach recline and
feature a fold-down tray table, foot rest, individual reading light,
and power outlet. Coach cars on long-distance trains are configured
with fewer seats per car so that passengers have additional legroom
and seats are equipped with leg rests.
WiFi and electronic services
Amtrak launched an e-ticketing system on the Downeaster in November
2011 and rolled it out nationwide on July 30, 2012. Amtrak
officials said the system gives "more accurate knowledge in realtime
of who is on the train which greatly improves the safety and security
of passengers; en route reporting of onboard equipment problems to
mechanical crews which may result in faster resolution of the issue;
and more efficient financial reporting."
Amtrak first offered free
Wi-Fi service to passengers aboard the
Downeaster in 2008, the
Acela Express and the Northeast Regional
trains on the NEC in 2010, and the
Amtrak Cascades in 2011. In
Amtrak rolled out
Wi-Fi on corridor trains out of
Chicago. When all the Midwest cars offer the AmtrakConnect service,
about 85% of all
Amtrak passengers nationwide will have Wi-Fi
access. As of 2014[update], most
Amtrak passengers have
access to free Wi-Fi. The service has developed a reputation for being
unreliable and slow due to its cellular network connection.
Viewliner baggage car at New London in 2016
Amtrak allows carry-on baggage on all routes; services with baggage
cars allow checked baggage at selected stations. With
the passage of the
Wicker Amendment in 2010 passengers are allowed to
put lawfully owned, unloaded firearms in checked
reversing a decade-long ban on such carriage.
Amtrak Express (reporting marks AMTK, AMTZ) provides small-package and
less-than-truckload shipping among more than 100 cities. Amtrak
Express also offers station-to-station shipment of human remains to
many express cities. At smaller stations, funeral directors must load
and unload the shipment onto and off the train.
Amtrak hauled mail for
United States Postal Service and time-sensitive freight, but
canceled these services in October 2004 due to minuscule profits.
On most parts of the few lines that
Amtrak owns, trackage rights
agreements allow freight railroads to use its trackage.
William Graham Claytor Jr, president 1982–93
Lewis, RogerRoger Lewis
Paul Reistrup[page needed]
Boyd, Alan StephensonAlan Stephenson Boyd
Claytor, Jr., W. GrahamW. Graham Claytor, Jr.
Warrington, GeorgeGeorge Warrington
Gunn, David L.David L. Gunn
Hughes, DavidDavid Hughes (interim)
Kummant, AlexanderAlexander Kummant
Crosbie, WilliamWilliam Crosbie (interim)
Boardman, Joseph H.Joseph H. Boardman
Moorman IV, Charles W. "Wick"Charles W. "Wick" Moorman IV
Anderson, RichardRichard Anderson
Board of Directors
Anthony Coscia, chairman
Jeffrey Moreland, vice-chairman
Richard H. Anderson, CEO and President
Thomas C. Carper
United States Secretary of Transportation
Yvonne Brathwaite Burke
Christopher R. Beall
In the modern era,
Amtrak faces a number of important labor issues. In
the area of pension funding, because of limitations originally imposed
by Congress, most
Amtrak workers were traditionally classified as
"railroad employees" and contributions to the Railroad Retirement
system have been made for those employees. However, because the size
of the contributions is determined on an industry-wide basis rather
than with reference to the employer for whom the employees work, some
critics, such as the National Association of Railroad Passengers,
Amtrak is subsidizing freight railroad pensions by as
much as US$150 million/year.
In recent times, efforts at reforming passenger rail have addressed
labor issues. In 1997 Congress released
Amtrak from a prohibition on
contracting for labor outside the corporation (and outside its
unions), opening the door to privatization. Since that time, many
of Amtrak's employees have been working without a contract. The most
recent contract, signed in 1999, was mainly retroactive.
Because of the fragmentation of railroad unions by job, as of
Amtrak has 14 separate unions to negotiate with. Plus, it
has 24 separate contracts with those unions. This makes it
difficult to make substantial changes, in contrast to a situation
where one union negotiates with one employer. Former
Kummant followed a cooperative posture with Amtrak's trade unions,
ruling out plans to privatize large parts of Amtrak's unionized
Amtrak receives annual appropriations from federal and state
governments to supplement operating and capital programs.
Total federal grant appropriations per year (billions)
1970s to 1990s
Amtrak commenced operations in 1971 with $40 million in direct
federal aid, $100 million in federally insured loans, and a
somewhat larger private contribution. Officials expected that
Amtrak would break even by 1974, but those expectations proved
unrealistic and annual direct federal aid reached a 17-year high in
1981 of $1.25 billion. During the Reagan administration,
appropriations were halved and by 1986, federal support fell to a
decade low of $601 million, almost none of which were capital
appropriations. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Congress
continued the reductionist trend even while
Amtrak expenses held
steady or rose.
Amtrak was forced to borrow to meet short-term
operating needs, and by 1995
Amtrak was on the brink of a cash crisis
and was unable to continue to service its debts. In response, in
1997 Congress authorized $5.2 billion for
Amtrak over the next
five years – largely to complete the Acela capital project – on
the condition that
Amtrak submit to the ultimatum of self-sufficiency
by 2003 or liquidation. While
Amtrak made financial improvements
during this period, it did not achieve
Amtrak's Piedmont near
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina with a state-owned
locomotive. This route is run under a partnership with the North
Carolina Department of Transportation, 2003
Amtrak Cascades service with tilting
Talgo trainsets in Seattle,
In 2004, a stalemate in federal support of
Amtrak forced cutbacks in
services and routes as well as resumption of deferred maintenance. In
fiscal 2004 and 2005, Congress appropriated about $1.2 billion
for Amtrak, $300 million more than President
George W. Bush
George W. Bush had
requested. However, the company's board requested $1.8 billion
through fiscal 2006, the majority of which (about $1.3 billion)
would be used to bring infrastructure, rolling stock, and motive power
back to a state of good repair. In Congressional testimony, the DOT
Inspector General confirmed that
Amtrak would need at least
$1.4 billion to $1.5 billion in fiscal 2006 and
$2 billion in fiscal 2007 just to maintain the status quo. In
Amtrak received just under $1.4 billion, with the condition
Amtrak would reduce (but not eliminate) food and sleeper service
losses. Thus, dining service was simplified and now requires two fewer
on-board service workers. Only
Auto Train and
Empire Builder services
continue regular made-on-board meal service. In 2010 the Senate
approved a bill to provide $1.96 billion to Amtrak, but cut the
approval for high-speed rail to a $1 billion appropriation.
State governments have partially filled the breach left by reductions
in federal aid. Several states have entered into operating
partnerships with Amtrak, notably California, Pennsylvania, Illinois,
Michigan, Oregon, Missouri, Washington, North Carolina, Oklahoma,
Texas, Wisconsin, Vermont, Maine, and New York, as well as the
Canadian province of British Columbia, which provides some of the
resources for the operation of the Cascades route.
With the dramatic rise in gasoline prices during 2007–08,
seen record ridership. Capping a steady five-year increase in
ridership overall, regional lines saw 12% year-over-year growth in May
2008. In October 2007, the Senate passed S-294, Passenger Rail
Improvement and Investment Act of 2007 (70–22) sponsored by Senators
Frank Lautenberg and Trent Lott. Despite a veto threat by President
Bush, a similar bill passed the House on June 11, 2008, with a
veto-proof margin (311–104). The final bill, spurred on by the
September 12 Metrolink collision in California and retitled Rail
Safety Improvement Act of 2008, was signed into law by President Bush
on October 16, 2008. The bill appropriates $2.6 billion a year in
Amtrak funding through 2013.
Amtrak points out that in 2010, its farebox recovery (percentage of
operating costs covered by revenues generated by passenger fares) was
79%, the highest reported for any U.S. passenger railroad. This
increased to 94% in 2016.
Amtrak has argued that it needs to increase capital program costs in
2013 in order to replace old train equipment because the multi-year
maintenance costs for those trains exceeds what it would cost to
simply buy new equipment that would not need to be repaired for
several years. However, despite an initial request for more than $2.1
billion in funding for the year, the company had to deal with a
year-over-year cut in 2013 federal appropriations, dropping to under
$1.4 billion for the first time in several years.
in 2010 that the backlog of needed repairs of the track it owns on the
Northeast Corridor included over 200 bridges, most dating to the 19th
century, tunnels under
Baltimore dating to the
American Civil War
American Civil War Era
and functionally obsolete track switches which would cost $5.2 billion
to repair (more than triple Amtrak's total annual budget).
Amtrak's budget is only allocated on a yearly basis, and it has been
argued by Joseph Vranich that this makes multi-year development
programs and long-term fiscal planning difficult if not
In Fiscal Year 2011, the U.S. Congress granted
Amtrak $563 million for
operating and $922 million for capital programs.
Government aid to
Amtrak was controversial from the beginning. The
Amtrak in 1971 was criticized as a bailout serving
corporate rail interests and union railroaders, not the traveling
public. Critics have asserted that
Amtrak has proven incapable of
operating as a business and that it does not provide valuable
transportation services meriting public
support,[page needed] a "mobile money-burning machine."
Many argued that subsidies should be ended, national rail service
terminated, and the NEC turned over to private interests. "To fund a
Nostalgia Limited is not in the public interest." Critics also
question Amtrak's energy efficiency, though the U.S. Department
of Energy considers
Amtrak among the most energy-efficient forms of
The Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, which established Amtrak,
specifically states that, "The Corporation will not be an agency or
establishment of the
United States Government". Then common stock
was issued in 1971 to railroads that contributed capital and
equipment; these shares convey almost no benefits, but their
current holders declined a 2002 buy-out offer by Amtrak. There
are currently 109,396,994 shares of preferred stock, at a par value of
$100 per share, all held by the US government. There are currently
9,385,694 shares of common stock, with a par value of $10 per share,
held by four other railroad companies: APU (formerly Penn Central)
53%, BNSF (35%), Canadian Pacific (7%), and Canadian National
Main article: List of accidents on Amtrak
Aerial view of the 1987 Maryland train collision
The following are major accidents and incidents that involved Amtrak
1971 Salem, Illinois, derailment
City of New Orleans
June 10, 1971
The City of New Orleans derails due to a broken locomotive axle.
1987 Maryland train collision
January 4, 1987
The Colonial collides with three
Conrail locomotives which had overrun
1990 Back Bay, Massachusetts train collision
December 12, 1990
Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts
The Night Owl collides with a Massachusetts Bay Transportation
Authority commuter train.
1993 Big Bayou Canot train wreck
September 22, 1993
Sunset Limited derails on a bridge which had been damaged by a
Palo Verde, Arizona
Palo Verde, Arizona derailment
October 9, 1995
Palo Verde, Arizona
Sunset Limited derails because of track sabotage.
1996 Maryland train collision
February 16, 1996
Silver Spring, Maryland
The Capitol Limited collides with a Maryland Area Regional Commuter
train which had overrun signals.
1999 Bourbonnais, Illinois, train crash
City of New Orleans
March 15, 1999
The City of New Orleans collides with a semi-truck on a grade
Philadelphia train derailment
May 12, 2015
Northeast Regional derails due to excessive speed on a curve.
2017 Washington train derailment
December 18, 2017
A Cascades train derails due to excessive speed on a curve.
Cayce, South Carolina
Cayce, South Carolina train collision
February 4, 2018
Cayce, South Carolina
The Silver Star collides head-on into a parked CSX freight train.
Washington, D.C. portal
Topics dealing with Amtrak
Amtrak Arrow Reservation System
Amtrak California, partnership with
California Department of Transportation
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
Amtrak Cascades, partnership with
Oregon Department of Transportation
Washington State Department of Transportation
Amtrak Express - Amtrak's freight and package service
Amtrak paint schemes
List of Amtrak station codes – alphabetical by three-letter
List of Amtrak stations – alphabetical by city name
Beech Grove Shops
Positive train control
Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati
Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team
Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team (VIPR) – TSA's rail
Fred Weiderhold- former Inspector General of Amtrak
Rail companies of interest
Auto-Train Corporation – Pioneer of car-on-train service.
Mid America Railcar Leasing
Other national railroads
Via Rail (Canada)
National Rail (United Kingdom)
Deutsche Bahn (Germany)
Austrian Federal Railways
Austrian Federal Railways (Austria)
Swiss Federal Railways
Swiss Federal Railways (Switzerland)
^ a b c "
Amtrak winner". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). UPI.
May 1, 1971. p. 12.
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Amtrak rails". Lewiston
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Amtrak isn't railroading
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^ a b c d e "
Amtrak FY16 Ridership & Revenue Fact Sheet" (PDF).
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^ Solomon 2015, p. 154
^ Solomon 2015, p. 161
^ Stover 1997, p. 220
^ Saunders 2001, pp. 106–107
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^ Stover 1997, p. 222
^ Stover 1997, p. 228
^ McCommons 2009, pp. 150–151
^ Glischinski 1997, p. 96
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^ Saunders 2001, p. 124
^ Sanders 2006, pp. 1–3
^ Pub.L. 91–518, H.R. 17849, 84 Stat. 1327, enacted
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^ Thoms 1973, p. 51
^ Thoms 1973, pp. 39–42
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Its Board". New York Times. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
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Amtrak Selects Transportation Industry Veteran as President
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Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman named Railroader of the Year.
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^ National Railroad. "Bulletin Board (40th Anniversary Train Ends
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Amtrak officially rolls out writers'
Amtrak Names Industry Veteran Wick Moorman President and Chief
Executive Officer -
Amtrak Media". August 19, 2016.
^ McGeehan, Patrick (June 26, 2017). "
Amtrak Picks Delta's Former
Chief to Lead It Through Challenging Time". New York Times. Retrieved
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Amtrak names new chief
executive". Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
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Amtrak On-Time Performance
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^ Figures from 2001, latest available
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figures for 2010.
^ Based on the 2008 Finnish data at
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Amtrak.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for rail travel in the United States.
Amtrak - Historic Timeline
Amtrak - Great American Stations
The Museum of Railway Timetables (
Amtrak timetables from
Amtrak rolling stock
Railcars and trainsets
Metroliner cab car
Auto Train Autorack
NGCE Bi-Level (future)
GE Genesis P40DC
GE Genesis P42DC
GE Genesis P32AC-DM
MPI MP14B / MP21B
Railcars and trainsets
EMD E8 / E9
EMD F3B / F7 / FP7
EMD F40PH / F40PHR
Budd Metroliner (EMU)
Gas turbine trainsets
ALCO RS-1 / RS-3
EMD GP7 / GP9
GE 45t / 65t
PRR E44 (electric)
City of New Orleans
Lake Shore Limited
Missouri River Runner
Black Hawk (planned)
Quad Cities (planned)
Ethan Allen Express
Maple Leaf (shared with VIA Rail Canada)
Atlantic Coast Service
New Haven–Springfield Shuttle
Atlantic City Express
Blue Water Limited
City of San Francisco
Connecticut Valley Service
Empire State Express
Gulf Coast Limited
James Whitcomb Riley
Kansas City Mule
Lake Country Limited
Las Vegas Limited
Mount Baker International
North Coast Hiawatha
Orange County Commuter
Pacific Northwest Corridor
San Francisco Zephyr
Spirit of California
Spirit of St. Louis
St. Louis Mule
Super Chief-El Capitan
Twin Cities Hiawatha
Class I railroads of North America
CP- D&H, SOO
Railroads in italics meet the revenue specifications for Class I
status, but are not technically Class I railroads due to being
passenger-only railroads with no