Amtrak
Overview
 
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as
Doing business as
The phrase "doing business as" is a legal term used in the United States, meaning that the trade name, or fictitious business name, under which the business or operation is conducted and presented to the world is not the legal name of the legal person who actually own it and are responsible for it...

 Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation
Government-owned corporation
A government-owned corporation, state-owned company, state-owned entity, state enterprise, publicly owned corporation, government business enterprise, or parastatal is a legal entity created by a government to undertake commercial activities on behalf of an owner government...

 that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity
Inter-city rail
Inter-city rail services are express passenger train services that cover longer distances than commuter or regional trains.There is no precise definition of inter-city rail. Its meaning may vary from country to country...

 passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union Station
Union Station (Washington, D.C.)
Washington Union Station is a train station and leisure destination visited by 32 million people each year in the center of Washington, D.C. The train station is served by Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services as well as by Washington Metro subway trains and local buses...

 in Washington, D.C.

All of Amtrak's preferred stock
Preferred stock
Preferred stock, also called preferred shares, preference shares, or simply preferreds, is a special equity security that has properties of both an equity and a debt instrument and is generally considered a hybrid instrument...

 is owned by the U.S. federal government. The members of its board of directors are appointed by the President of the United States and are subject to confirmation by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.
Encyclopedia
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as
Doing business as
The phrase "doing business as" is a legal term used in the United States, meaning that the trade name, or fictitious business name, under which the business or operation is conducted and presented to the world is not the legal name of the legal person who actually own it and are responsible for it...

 Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation
Government-owned corporation
A government-owned corporation, state-owned company, state-owned entity, state enterprise, publicly owned corporation, government business enterprise, or parastatal is a legal entity created by a government to undertake commercial activities on behalf of an owner government...

 that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity
Inter-city rail
Inter-city rail services are express passenger train services that cover longer distances than commuter or regional trains.There is no precise definition of inter-city rail. Its meaning may vary from country to country...

 passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union Station
Union Station (Washington, D.C.)
Washington Union Station is a train station and leisure destination visited by 32 million people each year in the center of Washington, D.C. The train station is served by Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services as well as by Washington Metro subway trains and local buses...

 in Washington, D.C.

All of Amtrak's preferred stock
Preferred stock
Preferred stock, also called preferred shares, preference shares, or simply preferreds, is a special equity security that has properties of both an equity and a debt instrument and is generally considered a hybrid instrument...

 is owned by the U.S. federal government. The members of its board of directors are appointed by the President of the United States and are subject to confirmation by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. 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.

Amtrak employs nearly 19,000 people. It operates passenger service on 21000 miles (33,796.1 km) of track primarily owned by freight railroads connecting 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. In fiscal year 2008, Amtrak served 28.7 million passengers, representing six straight years of record ridership. Despite this recent growth, the United States still has one of the lowest inter-city rail usages in the developed world.

History

Amtrak's origins are traceable to the sustained decline of private passenger rail services in the United States from about 1920 to 1970. In 1971, in response to the decline, Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 and President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 created Amtrak. The Nixon administration secretly agreed with some railroads that Amtrak would be shut down after two years. 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. Though for its entire existence the company has been subjected to political cross-winds and insufficient capital resources, including owned railway, Amtrak's ridership has maintained consistent growth.

Privately operated passenger rail service

From the middle 19th century until approximately 1920, nearly all intercity travelers in the United States moved by rail. The rails and the trains were owned and operated by private, for-profit organizations. Approximately 65,000 railroad passenger cars operated in 1929.

For a long time after 1920, passenger rail's popularity diminished and there were a series of pullbacks and tentative recoveries. Rail passenger revenues declined dramatically between 1920 and 1934 because of the rise of the automobile, but in the mid-1930s, railroads reignited popular imagination with service improvements and new, diesel-powered streamliner
Streamliner
A streamliner is a vehicle incorporating streamlining in a shape providing reduced air resistance. The term is applied to high-speed railway trainsets of the 1930s to 1950s, and to their successor "bullet trains". Less commonly, the term is applied to fully faired recumbent bicycles...

s, such as the gleaming silver Pioneer Zephyr
Pioneer Zephyr
The Pioneer Zephyr is a diesel-powered railroad train formed of railroad cars permanently articulated together with Jacobs bogies, built by the Budd Company in 1934 for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad , commonly known as the Burlington...

 and Flying Yankee
Flying Yankee
The Flying Yankee was a diesel-powered streamliner built in 1935 for the Maine Central Railroad and the Boston and Maine Railroad by Budd Company and with mechanical and electrical equipment from Electro-Motive Corporation...

. Even with the improvements, on a relative basis, traffic continued to decline, and by 1940 railroads held 67% of passenger-miles in the United States. World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 broke the malaise. During the war, troop movements and restrictions on automobile fuel generated a sixfold increase in passenger traffic from the low point of the Depression. After the war, railroads rejuvenated overworked and neglected fleets with fast and often luxurious streamliners—epitomized by the Super Chief
Super Chief
The Super Chief was one of the named passenger trains and the flagship of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. It was often referred to as "The Train of the Stars" because of the many celebrities who traveled on the streamliner between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California.The Super...

 and California Zephyr
California Zephyr
The California Zephyr is a long passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the midwestern and western United States.It runs from Chicago, Illinois, in the east to Emeryville, California, in the west, passing through the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California...

—which inspired the last major resurgence in passenger rail travel.

The postwar resurgence was short-lived. In 1946, there remained 45% fewer passenger trains than in 1929, and the decline quickened despite railroad optimism. Passengers disappeared and so did trains. Few trains generated profits; most produced losses. Broad-based passenger rail deficits appeared as early as 1948 and by the mid-1950s railroads claimed aggregate annual losses on passenger services of more than $700 million (almost $5 billion in 2005 dollars using CPI). By 1965, only 10,000 rail passenger cars were in operation, 85% fewer than in 1929. Passenger service was provided on only 75000 miles (120,700.5 km) of track, a stark decline. The 1960s also saw the end of railway post office
Railway post office
In the United States a railway post office, commonly abbreviated as RPO, was a railroad car that was normally operated in passenger service as a means to sort mail en route, in order to speed delivery. The RPO was staffed by highly trained Railway Mail Service postal clerks, and was off-limits to...

 revenues, which had helped some of the remaining trains break even.

Causes of the decline of privately operated passenger rail service

The causes of the decline of passenger rail in the United States were complex. Until 1920, rail was the only practical form of intercity transport, but the industry was subject to government regulation and labor inflexibility. By 1930, the railroad companies had constructed, with private funding, a vast and relatively efficient transportation network, but when the federal government began to construct the National Highway System
National Highway System (United States)
The National Highway System is a network of strategic highways within the United States, including the Interstate Highway System and other roads serving major airports, ports, rail or truck terminals, railway stations, pipeline terminals and other strategic transport facilities.Individual states...

, the railroads found themselves faced with unprecedented competition for passengers and freight with automobiles, buses, trucks, and aircraft, all of which were heavily subsidized by the government road and airport building programs. In 1916, the amount of track in the United States peaked at 254251 miles (409,176.3 km), compared to 140695 miles (226,426.1 km) in 2007 (although it remained the largest rail network of any country in the world). Some routes had been built primarily to facilitate the sale of stock in the railroad companies; they were redundant from the beginning.
These were the first to be abandoned as the railroads' financial positions deteriorated, and the rails were routinely removed to save money on taxes. Many rights of way were destroyed by being broken up and built over, but others remained the property of the railroad or were taken over by local or state authorities and turned into rail trail
Rail trail
A rail trail is the conversion of a disused railway easement into a multi-use path, typically for walking, cycling and sometimes horse riding. The characteristics of former tracks—flat, long, frequently running through historical areas—are appealing for various development. The term sometimes also...

s, which could be returned to rail service if necessary.
Government regulation

The first interruption in passenger rail's vibrancy coincided with government intervention. From approximately 1910 to 1921, the federal government introduced a populist rate-setting scheme, followed by nationalization of the rail industry for World War I
United States Railroad Administration
The United States Railroad Administration was the name of the nationalized railroad system of the United States between 1917 and 1920. It was possibly the largest American experiment with nationalization, and was undertaken against a background of war emergency.- Background :On April 6, 1917, the...

. Ample railroad profits were erased, growth of the rail system was reversed, and railroads massively underinvested in passenger rail facilities during this time. Meanwhile, labor costs advanced, and with them passenger fares, which discouraged passenger traffic just as automobiles gained a foothold.

The primary regulatory authority affecting railroads, beginning in the late 19th century, was the Interstate Commerce Commission
Interstate Commerce Commission
The Interstate Commerce Commission was a regulatory body in the United States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The agency's original purpose was to regulate railroads to ensure fair rates, to eliminate rate discrimination, and to regulate other aspects of common carriers, including...

 (ICC). The ICC played a leading role in rate-setting and intervened in other ways detrimental to passenger rail. Increases in train speeds, which had been occurring since the 1930s, were hampered after the Naperville train disaster
Naperville train disaster
The Naperville train disaster occurred on April 26, 1946, at the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad station in Naperville, Illinois when the railroad's Exposition Flyer rammed into the Advance Flyer, which had made an unscheduled stop to check its running gear. The Exposition Flyer had been...

 of 1946 and other crashes in New York in 1950. In 1947 the ICC issued an order requiring US railroads, by the end of 1951, to install automatic train-stop or train-control or cab-signalling wherever any trains would travel at 80 mph (128.7 km/h) or faster. Such technology was not widely implemented outside the Northeast., effectively placing a speed limit in other areas, which is still in effect today, and why the 79 mph maximum passenger train speed is common in the United States. In 1958, the ICC was granted authority to allow or reject modifications and eliminations of passenger routes (train-offs). Many routes required beneficial pruning, but the ICC delayed action by an average of eight months and when it did authorize modifications, the ICC insisted that unsuccessful routes be merged with profitable ones. Thus, fast, popular rail service was transformed into slow, unpopular service. The ICC was even more critical of corporate mergers. Many combinations which railroads sought to complete were delayed for years and even decades, such as the merger of the New York Central Railroad
New York Central Railroad
The New York Central Railroad , known simply as the New York Central in its publicity, was a railroad operating in the Northeastern United States...

 and Pennsylvania Railroad
Pennsylvania Railroad
The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad, founded in 1846. Commonly referred to as the "Pennsy", the PRR was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....

, into what eventually became Penn Central, and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad
The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company was a railroad connecting Pennsylvania's Lackawanna Valley, rich in anthracite coal, to Hoboken, New Jersey, , Buffalo and Oswego, New York...

 and Erie Railroad
Erie Railroad
The Erie Railroad was a railroad that operated in New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, originally connecting New York City with Lake Erie...

 into the Erie Lackawanna Railway
Erie Lackawanna Railway
The Erie Lackawanna Railway , known as the Erie–Lackawanna Railroad until 1968, was formed from the 1960 merger of the Erie Railroad and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad...

. By the time the ICC approved the mergers in the 1960s, disinvestment
Disinvestment
Disinvestment, sometimes referred to as divestment, refers to the use of a concerted economic boycott, with specific emphasis on liquidating stock, to pressure a government, industry, or company towards a change in policy, or in the case of governments, even regime change...

s by the federal government, years of deteriorating equipment and station facilities and the flight of passengers to the air and car had taken their toll and the mergers were unsuccessful.
Taxation

At the same time, railroads carried a substantial tax burden. A World War II–era excise tax of 15% on passenger rail travel survived until 1962. Local governments, far from providing needed support to passenger rail, viewed rail infrastructure as a ready source for property tax revenues. In one extreme example, in 1959, the Great Northern Railway, which owned about a third of one percent (0.34%) of the land in Lincoln County, Montana
Lincoln County, Montana
-National protected areas:* Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail *Flathead National Forest *Kaniksu National Forest *Kootenai National Forest -Demographics:...

, was assessed more than 91% of all school taxes in the county. To this day, railroads are generally taxed at a higher rate than other industries, and the rates vary greatly from state to state.
Labor issues

Railroads also were saddled with antiquated work rules and an inflexible relationship with trade unions. Work rules did not adapt to technological change
Technological change
Technological change is a term that is used to describe the overall process of invention, innovation and diffusion of technology or processes. The term is synonymous with technological development, technological achievement, and technological progress...

. Average train speeds doubled from 1919 to 1959, but unions resisted efforts to modify their existing 100 to 150 mile work days. As a result, railroaders' work days were roughly cut in half, from 5–7½ hours in 1919 down to 2½–3¾ hours in 1959. Labor rules also perpetuated positions that had been obviated by technology; for example, requirements that diesel locomotive have a "fireman" aboard at all times, even in switching yards. Between 1947 and 1957, passenger railroad financial efficiency dropped by 42% per mile.

Today, the burden of nascent railroad worker pensions, including those of freight railroad workers, are financed by Amtrak, regardless of whether such workers were ever employed by Amtrak or worked in passenger railroad service. In effect, Amtrak subsidizes the pensions of thousands of railroad workers who would otherwise not receive any pension.
Subsidized competition

While passenger rail faced internal and governmental pressures, new challenges appeared that undermined the dominance of passenger rail: highways and commercial aviation. The passenger rail industry wilted as government backed these potent upstarts with billions of dollars in construction of highways and government-owned airports and the air traffic control system.

As cars became more attainable to most Americans, this newfound freedom and individualization of transit became the norm for most Americans because of the increased convenience. Government actively began to respond with funds from its treasury and later with fuel tax funds to build a non-profit network of roads not subject to property taxation that rivaled and then surpassed the for-profit network that the railroads had built in previous generations with corporate capital and government land grants. All told between 1921 and 1955 governmental entities, using taxpayer money and in response to taxpayer demand, financed more than $93 billion worth of pavement, construction, and maintenance.

In the 1950s, a second and more formidable threat appeared: affordable commercial aviation. Government at many levels supported aviation. Governmental entities built sprawling urban and suburban airports, funded construction of highways to provide access to the airports, and provided air traffic control services.
Loss of U.S. Mail contracts

Until 1966, most U.S. Postal Service mail was transported on passenger trains. By the 1960s, it was not uncommon for passenger trains to feature a dozen mail cars with only a few passenger cars. The mail contracts kept most passenger trains economically viable. In 1966, the U.S. Postal Service switched to trucks and airplanes, depriving many passenger trains of a major source of revenue.

Formation

Rail Passenger Service Act

In the late 1960s, the end of passenger rail in the United States seemed near. First had come the requests for termination of services; then came the bankruptcy filings. The legendary Pullman Company
Pullman Company
The Pullman Palace Car Company, founded by George Pullman, manufactured railroad cars in the mid-to-late 19th century through the early decades of the 20th century, during the boom of railroads in the United States. Pullman developed the sleeping car which carried his name into the 1980s...

 became insolvent in 1969, followed, in 1970, by the dominant railroad in the Northeastern United States, the Penn Central. It now seemed that passenger rail's financial problems might bring down the railroad industry as a whole, yet few in government wanted to be held responsible for the extinction of the passenger train.

In 1970, Congress passed and President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 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
The National Association of Railroad Passengers "is the largest national membership advocacy organization for train and rail transit passengers" according to the association's website.- Early history :...

 (NARP), sought government funding to assure the continuation of passenger trains. They conceived the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (NRPC), a hybrid public-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 provisions:
  • 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 as part of a "basic system" of service and paid for by NRPC using its federal funds.
  • 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.


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 the one "last hurrah" demanded by the public. They expected Amtrak to quietly disappear as public interest waned. Proponents also hoped that government intervention would be brief, but their view was that 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 unfeasible.

Non-participating railroads

Of the railroads that were still offering long-distance passenger service in 1971 only six declined to join Amtrak.
  • Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad passenger trains, which operated in the roughly 100 miles (160.9 km) industrial corridor between Chicago, Illinois and South Bend, Indiana
    South Bend, Indiana
    The city of South Bend is the county seat of St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States, on the St. Joseph River near its southernmost bend, from which it derives its name. As of the 2010 Census, the city had a total of 101,168 residents; its Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 316,663...

     continue to operate as part of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District system.
  • The Georgia Railroad was required by its state charter to maintain roughly 200 miles (321.9 km) of minimal passenger service, which it did with mixed freight/passenger trains
    Mixed train
    A mixed train is a train that hauls both passenger and freight cars or wagons. In the early days of railways they were quite common, but by the 20th century they were largely confined to branch lines with little traffic. As the trains provided passengers with very slow service, mixed trains have...

    . This limited passenger service continued until the company was sold to the Seaboard System in 1983.
  • The Reading Company
    Reading Company
    The Reading Company , usually called the Reading Railroad, officially the Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway until 1924, operated in southeast Pennsylvania and neighboring states...

     maintained passenger services on short (less than 100 mile) lines from Philadelphia to each of Newark Penn Station, NJ
    Pennsylvania Station (Newark)
    Pennsylvania Station is a major transportation hub in Newark, New Jersey. Located at Raymond Plaza, between Market Street and Raymond Boulevard, Newark Penn Station is served by the Newark Light Rail, New Jersey Transit commuter rail, Amtrak long distance trains, the PATH rapid transit system, and...

    , Bethlehem, PA, and Pottsville, PA. The Reading Company merged into Conrail in 1976. Passenger service to Bethlehem and Pottsville was discontinued in 1981, while passenger service to New Jersey was cut back by roughly 50 miles (80.5 km) to terminate in West Trenton, NJ
    West Trenton (SEPTA station)
    West Trenton is the northern terminus of the SEPTA West Trenton Line. It is officially located at Grand & Railroad Avenues in Ewing, New Jersey, however this address only applies to the southbound station house on the west side of the tracks...

    .
  • The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
    Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
    The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad was a Class I railroad in the United States. It was also known as the Rock Island Line, or, in its final years, The Rock.-Incorporation:...

     (the Rock Island) determined that the fee to join Amtrak was greater than the cost of the statutory five years of operations for its remaining intercity passenger service. The Rock Island continued operating two truncated passenger trains (the Peoria Rocket and the Quad Cities Rocket) on short routes out of Chicago until 1978.
  • Southern Railway relinquished some operations, but continued four routes, including its Southern Crescent
    Crescent (Amtrak)
    The Crescent is a passenger train operated by Amtrak in the eastern part of the United States. It runs daily from Pennsylvania Station in New York City to New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans, Louisiana as train 19 and returns, on the same route, as train 20. Most of the route of...

    . Continued losses convinced Southern Railway to relinquish remaining passenger operations to Amtrak in 1979. Amtrak continues a variation of the Southern Crescent service as the Crescent.
  • The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
    Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
    The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad , often shortened to Rio Grande or D&RGW, formerly the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, is a defunct U.S. railroad company. The railroad started as a narrow gauge line running south from Denver, Colorado in 1870; however, served mainly as a transcontinental...

     (DRG) continued operating its portion of the original California Zephyr
    California Zephyr
    The California Zephyr is a long passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the midwestern and western United States.It runs from Chicago, Illinois, in the east to Emeryville, California, in the west, passing through the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California...

     service, renamed the Rio Grande Zephyr
    Rio Grande Zephyr
    The Rio Grande Zephyr was a passenger train operated by Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad between Denver, Colorado and Ogden, Utah in the Western United States. It operated from 1970 until 1983...

    , between Denver, Colorado
    Denver, Colorado
    The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

     and Ogden, Utah
    Ogden, Utah
    Ogden is a city in Weber County, Utah, United States. Ogden serves as the county seat of Weber County. The population was 82,825 according to the 2010 Census. The city served as a major railway hub through much of its history, and still handles a great deal of freight rail traffic which makes it a...

    . In operation until 1983, the Rio Grande Zephyr was the last privately operated long-distance passenger service in the United States. Amtrak subsequently rerouted its modern version of the California Zephyr to follow DRG's scenic route between Denver and Salt Lake City.

Rainbow Era (the first decade)

Day one

Amtrak began operations on May 1, 1971. The corporation was molded from the passenger rail operations of 20 out of 26 major railroads in operation at the time. The railroads contributed rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

, equipment, and capital. In return, they received approval to discontinue their passenger services, and at least some acquired common stock in Amtrak. Amtrak received no rail tracks
Rail tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast , plus the underlying subgrade...

 or right-of-way at its inception. Railroads that shed passenger operations were expected to host Amtrak trains on their tracks, for a fee.

Consolidations

There was a period of adjustment. However, Amtrak was making numerous renovations and improvements. 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
Official Guide of the Railways
The Official Guide of the Railways, now known as the Official Railway Guide, was originally produced by National Railway Publication Company of New York City, beginning in 1868...

. Former names largely were continued.

Several major corridors became freight-only, including New York Central Railroad
New York Central Railroad
The New York Central Railroad , known simply as the New York Central in its publicity, was a railroad operating in the Northeastern United States...

's Water Level Route across New York and Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 and Grand Trunk Western Railroad
Grand Trunk Western Railroad
The Grand Trunk Western Railroad is an important subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway , constituting the majority of CN's Chicago Division ....

's Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 to Detroit service, although passenger service soon returned to the Water Level Route with the introduction of the Lake Shore Limited
Lake Shore Limited
The Lake Shore Limited is a daily passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States. The train runs between Chicago and Albany, NY, where it divides into two sections that provide thru-service to New York and Boston...

. Reduced passenger train schedules created headaches. A 19-hour layover became necessary for eastbound travel on the James Whitcomb Riley between Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 and Newport News
Newport News, Virginia
Newport News is an independent city located in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of Virginia. It is at the southeastern end of the Virginia Peninsula, on the north shore of the James River extending southeast from Skiffe's Creek along many miles of waterfront to the river's mouth at Newport News...

.

Amtrak inherited problems with train stations, most notably deferred maintenance
Deferred maintenance
Deferred maintenance is the practice of postponing maintenance activities such as repairs on both real property and personal property in order to save costs, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget monies. The failure to perform needed repairs could lead to asset deterioration...

, 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
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 (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 Penn Station
Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
Pennsylvania Station—commonly known as Penn Station—is the major intercity train station and a major commuter rail hub in New York City. It is one of the busiest rail stations in the world, and a hub for inbound and outbound railroad traffic in New York City. The New York City Subway system also...

 and Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal —often incorrectly called Grand Central Station, or shortened to simply Grand Central—is a terminal station at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States...

 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
West Side Line (NYCRR)
The West Side Line, also called the West Side Freight Line, is a railroad line on the west side of the New York City borough of Manhattan. North of Penn Station, from 34th Street, the line is used by Amtrak passenger service heading north via Albany to Toronto, Montreal and Chicago...

 in 1991. In many cases Amtrak had to abandon service into the huge old Union Stations such as Cincinnati, Saint Paul, Buffalo, Kansas City, Houston, and Saint Louis, and route trains into smaller Amtrak-built facilities down the line, jokingly referred to over the years as "Amshacks" due to their basic design. Amtrak has pushed to start reusing some of the old stations, most recently Cincinnati Union Terminal
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, originally Cincinnati Union Terminal, is a passenger railroad station in the Queensgate neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States...

, and Kansas City Union Station
Union Station (Kansas City, Missouri)
Union Station Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri, is one of many union stations in the United States.-History:Around the turn of the 20th century, the Kansas City Terminal Railway, a company controlled by the *12 railroads serving Kansas City, decided that a new location was needed for the train...

.
On the other hand, merged operations presented efficiencies such as the combination of three West Coast trains into the Coast Starlight
Coast Starlight
The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States. It runs from King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, to Union Station in Los Angeles, California. The train's name was formed as a merging of two of Southern Pacific's train names, the Coast...

, running from Los Angeles to Seattle. The Northeast Corridor
Northeast Corridor
The Northeast Corridor is a fully electrified railway line owned primarily by Amtrak serving the Northeast megalopolis of the United States from Boston in the north, via New York to Washington, D.C. in the south, with branches serving other cities...

 received an Inland Route via Springfield
Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield is the most populous city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern...

, Massachusetts, thanks to support from New York, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 and Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. The North Coast Hiawatha
North coast hiawatha (Amtrak)
The North Coast Hiawatha was a United States passenger train service operated by Amtrak between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington. Before the coming of Amtrak the Northern Pacific's North Coast Limited and Mainstreeter served the route. The name combined the North Coast Limited and the...

 was implemented as a second Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 route. The Milwaukee to St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

 Abraham Lincoln and Prairie State routes also commenced. The first all-new Amtrak route, not counting the Coast Starlight
Coast Starlight
The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States. It runs from King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, to Union Station in Los Angeles, California. The train's name was formed as a merging of two of Southern Pacific's train names, the Coast...

, was the Montrealer
Vermonter
Amtrak's Vermonter is a 611-mile passenger train service between St. Albans , New York City and Washington, D.C. One trip runs in each direction per day....

/Washingtonian
Vermonter
Amtrak's Vermonter is a 611-mile passenger train service between St. Albans , New York City and Washington, D.C. One trip runs in each direction per day....

. That route was inaugurated September 29, 1972, along Boston and Maine Railroad
Boston and Maine Railroad
The Boston and Maine Corporation , known as the Boston and Maine Railroad until 1964, was the dominant railroad of the northern New England region of the United States for a century...

 and Canadian National Railway
Canadian National Railway
The Canadian National Railway Company is a Canadian Class I railway headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. CN's slogan is "North America's Railroad"....

 track that had last seen passenger service in 1966. Amtrak was also instrumental in restoring service in the Empire Corridor
Empire Corridor
The Empire Corridor is a term used to refer to the approximately corridor between Niagara Falls and New York City, including the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Schenectady and Albany. The Empire Service and Maple Leaf serve the entire length of this corridor, and the Maple Leaf...

 of upstate New York, between Albany and Niagara Falls, with its Empire Service
Empire Service (Amtrak)
The Empire Service is a train service operated by Amtrak within the state of New York in the United States. Trains on the line provide frequent daily service along the 460-mile Empire Corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls, New York...

, a service that was discontinued in the sixties by the New York Central and Penn Central.

Northeast Corridor ownership

Amtrak soon had the opportunity to acquire railway. Following the bankruptcy of several northeastern railroads in the early 1970s, including Penn Central, which owned and operated the Northeast Corridor
Northeast Corridor
The Northeast Corridor is a fully electrified railway line owned primarily by Amtrak serving the Northeast megalopolis of the United States from Boston in the north, via New York to Washington, D.C. in the south, with branches serving other cities...

 (NEC), Congress passed the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act
Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act
The Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, often called the "4R Act," is a United States federal law that established the basic outlines of regulatory reform in the railroad industry and provided transitional operating funds following the 1970 bankruptcy of Penn Central...

 of 1976. A large part of the legislation was directed to the creation of Conrail
Consolidated Rail Corporation
The Consolidated Rail Corporation, commonly known as Conrail , was the primary Class I railroad in the Northeast U.S. between 1976 and 1999. The federal government created it to take over the potentially profitable lines of bankrupt carriers, including the Penn Central Transportation Company and...

, 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 (New York)
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York is a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the U.S...

 and the Connecticut Department of Transportation
Connecticut Department of Transportation
The Connecticut Department of Transportation is responsible for the development and operation of highways, railroads, mass transit systems, ports, waterways and aviation facilities in the U.S. state of Connecticut. The current Commissioner of ConnDOT is Jeffrey Parker...

 as the New Haven Line.) This main line became Amtrak's "jewel" asset, and helped the railroad generate significant revenues. 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. Nevertheless, in general, Amtrak remained dependent on freight railroads for access to most of its routes outside of the northeast.

The verdict

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.

Rainbow Era: defined

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
PRR GG1
The PRR GG1 is a class of electric locomotives that was built for the Pennsylvania Railroad for use in the northeastern United States. A total of 140 GG1s were constructed by its designer General Electric and the Pennsylvania's Altoona Works from 1934 to 1943....

 electric locomotives, and 1290 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.

The 1980s and 1990s

Ridership stagnated at roughly 20 million passengers per year amid uncertain government aid from 1981 to about 2000.

In the 1990s, 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 mid-1990s, Amtrak suffered through a serious cash crunch. To resolve the crisis, Congress issued funding but instituted a glide-path to financial self-sufficiency, excluding railroad retirement tax act payments. 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
Trucking industry in the United States
The trucking industry involves the transport and distribution of commercial and industrial goods using commercial motor vehicles . In this case, CMVs are most often trucks; usually semi trucks, box trucks, or dump trucks...

. Delivery was delayed of much anticipated high-speed trainsets for the improved Acela Express
Acela Express
The Acela Express is Amtrak's high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor in the Northeast United States between Washington, D.C., and Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York...

 service, which promised to be a strong source of income and favorable publicity along the NEC between Boston and Washington, D.C.

The 21st century

Ridership increased in the first decade of the 21st century after implementation of capital improvements in the NEC and rises in automobile fuel costs. Amtrak set its sixth straight year of record ridership, with 28.7 million passengers for the 12 months ended September 30, 2008. According to Amtrak, an average of more than 70,000 passengers ride on up to 300 Amtrak trains per day.

Through the late 1990s and very early 21st century, Amtrak could not add sufficient express freight revenue or cut sufficient other services to break even. By 2002, it was clear that Amtrak could not achieve self-sufficiency, but Congress continued to authorize funding and released Amtrak from the requirement.

Amtrak's leader at the time, David L. Gunn
David L. Gunn
David L. Gunn is a transportation system administrator who has headed several significant railroads and transit systems in North America....

, was polite but direct in response to congressional criticism. 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
Airport and Airway Trust Fund
The Airport and Airway Trust Fund provides funding for the federal commitment to the aviation system of the United States of America through several aviation-related excise taxes. It was established on the books of the United States Department of the Treasury in 1971...

 paid for by user fees, highway fuel and road taxes, and, in the case of the General Fund, by people who own cars and do not.

Before a congressional hearing, Gunn answered a demand by leading Amtrak critic Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 Senator John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 to eliminate all operating subsidies by asking the Senator if he would also demand the same of the commuter airlines, upon which the citizens of Arizona are dependent. McCain, usually not at a loss for words when debating Amtrak funding, did not reply.

Under Gunn, almost all the controversial express freight business was eliminated. The practice of tolerating deferred maintenance
Deferred maintenance
Deferred maintenance is the practice of postponing maintenance activities such as repairs on both real property and personal property in order to save costs, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget monies. The failure to perform needed repairs could lead to asset deterioration...

 was reversed to eliminate a safety issue.

Alexander Kummant, Amtrak's chief from 2006–2008, was committed to operating a national rail network, and he did not envision separating the NEC 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. Amtrak is seeking annual congressional funding of $1 billion for ten years. Kummant has stated that the investment is moderate in light of federal investment in other modes of transportation. In 2011, Amtrak announced its intention to build a small segment of a high speed rail corridor in New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 called the Gateway Project
Gateway Project
The Gateway Project is a proposed American rail expansion project to build a high-speed rail right-of-way and to alleviate the bottleneck along the Northeast Corridor between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City...

, estimated to cost $13.5 billion.
In 2011 and 2012, Amtrak will celebrate its 40th anniversary with festivities across the country, starting the year-long celebration with National Train Day in May 2011. A commemorative book entitled Amtrak: An American Story was published, and a documentary was created. Four commemorative locomotives and an exhibit train are touring the country. The exhibit train is an entirely rebuilt train powered by GE Genesis
GE Genesis
GE Genesis is a series of passenger locomotives produced by GE Transportation Systems, a subsidiary of General Electric...

 locomotives and includes three refurbished baggage car
Baggage car
A baggage car or luggage van is a type of railway vehicle often forming part of the composition of passenger trains and used to carry passengers' checked baggage, as well as parcels . Being typically coupled at the front of the train behind the locomotive, this type of car is sometimes described...

s and a food service car. Four Genesis locomotives have been painted into retired Amtrak paint schemes: #156 is in Phase 1 colors, #66 is in Phase 2 colors, #145 is in Phase 3 colors, and #184 is in Phase 4 colors.

The first Amtrak train to offer free Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi or Wifi, is a mechanism for wirelessly connecting electronic devices. A device enabled with Wi-Fi, such as a personal computer, video game console, smartphone, or digital audio player, can connect to the Internet via a wireless network access point. An access point has a range of about 20...

 service to passengers was the Downeaster
Downeaster
The Downeaster is a 116-mile regional passenger train service managed by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and operated by Amtrak, connecting North Station in Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine...

 in 2008, followed by the Acela Express in 2010 and the Amtrak Cascades
Amtrak Cascades
The Amtrak Cascades is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in partnership with the states of Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and the province of British Columbia in Canada...

 in 2011. As of November 2011, Wi-Fi is being expanded to a variety of additional trains operating on the east coast. The Amtrak California
Amtrak California
Amtrak California is a brand name used by the Caltrans Division of Rail for all state-supported Amtrak rail routes within the U.S. State of California...

 routes are set to follow suit as well in early 2012.

Also in November 2011, Amtrak launched its new e-ticketing
Electronic ticket
An electronic ticket is a digital ticket. It may be issued by an airline, in road, urban or rail public transport, and in entertainment.-Airline ticket:...

 system on the Downeaster, with plans to expand it to the rest of the rail network in 2012.

Presidents

  • Roger Lewis (1971–1974)
  • Paul Reistrup (1974–1978)
  • Alan Stephenson Boyd
    Alan Stephenson Boyd
    Alan Stephenson Boyd is an American attorney and transportation executive who led several large corporations and also served the U.S. Government in various transportation-related positions. He was the first United States Secretary of Transportation, appointed by Lyndon Johnson. Additionally, he...

     (1978–1982)
  • W. Graham Claytor, Jr. (1982–1993)
  • Thomas Downs (1993–1998)
  • George Warrington
    George Warrington
    George David Warrington was an American transportation official, who served New Jersey Transit for 28 years, latterly in the post of executive director...

     (1998–2002)
  • David L. Gunn
    David L. Gunn
    David L. Gunn is a transportation system administrator who has headed several significant railroads and transit systems in North America....

     (2002–2005)
  • David Hughes
    David Hughes (Amtrak)
    David J. Hughes is a United States railroad executive.Hughes has worked in the railroad industry for more than 30 years and was a member of Amtrak's senior management since 2002, serving as the company's Chief Engineer under President David L...

     (interim) (2005–2006)
  • Alexander Kummant
    Alexander Kummant
    Alexander K. Kummant was named by Amtrak on August 29, 2006, as the railroad company's new president and chief executive officer effective September 12 of that year. He succeeded David L. Gunn in this position who was dismissed in November 2005, and David Hughes who had been serving as interim...

     (2006–2008)
  • William Crosbie (interim) (2008)
  • Joseph H. Boardman
    Joseph H. Boardman
    Joseph H. Boardman is the president of Amtrak and formerly Administrator of the United States Federal Railroad Administration.He was nominated by President George W. Bush on March 17, 2005 and confirmed by the United States Senate on April 28, 2005. He was the eleventh Federal Railroad...

     (2008–present)

Board of Directors

  • Chairman Thomas Carper
  • Vice-Chairman Donna McLean
  • Joseph Boardman
  • Anthony Coscia
  • Albert DiClemente
  • Ray LaHood
    Ray LaHood
    Raymond H. "Ray" LaHood is a Republican politician from Illinois who is currently the United States Secretary of Transportation, having served since 2009. Previously, he represented the Illinois's 18th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms .-Early life and...

  • Jeffrey Morland
  • Nancy Naples
    Nancy Naples
    Nancy A. Naples, a member of the Board of Directors of Amtrak, is the former Commissioner of Motor Vehicles in New York. Naples was appointed State Motor Vehicles Commissioner by then-Gov. George Pataki in January 2006 following a 12-year political career in Western New York...

  • One seat is vacant.


Note: As of summer 2010.

Leaders and political influences

Unlike many large businesses, subsequent to its formation Amtrak has had only one active investor: the U.S. government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

. Like most investors, the federal government has demanded a degree of accountability. Determination of congressional funding and selection of Amtrak's leadership have been infused with political considerations. As discussed below, funding levels and capital support have varied over time.

Like many railroads, some members of Amtrak's board have had little or no experience with railroads. Conversely, Amtrak also has benefited from the interest of highly motivated and politically oriented public servants. For example, in 1982, former Secretary of the Navy
United States Secretary of the Navy
The Secretary of the Navy of the United States of America is the head of the Department of the Navy, a component organization of the Department of Defense...

 and retired Southern Railway head W. Graham Claytor, Jr. brought his military and railroad experience to the job. Graham Claytor earned distinction as a lawyer (he was president of the Harvard Law Review and law clerk to U.S. Judge Billings Learned Hand
Learned Hand
Billings Learned Hand was a United States judge and judicial philosopher. He served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and later the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit...

 and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
Louis Brandeis
Louis Dembitz Brandeis ; November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939.He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Jewish immigrant parents who raised him in a secular mode...

); as a transportation executive (he joined the Southern as vice president-law in 1963, became president in 1967, and retired in 1977, five years before he took over the command at Amtrak); and as a public servant (he was President Carter's Secretary of the Navy, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and, briefly, Acting Secretary of Transportation, all between his two railroad careers). Claytor came out of retirement to lead Amtrak after the disastrous financial results during the Carter administration (1977–1981). He was recruited by then Secretary of Transportation, Drew Lewis, and Federal Railroad Administrator Robert Blanchette, both Reagan appointees. Despite the fact that Claytor frequently opposed the Reagan Administration over Amtrak funding issues, he was strongly supported by John H. Riley
John H. Riley
John H. Riley was an American attorney and railroad transportation administrator. He was born in New york and raised in Danbury, CT, and moved to Minnesota after graduating from law school....

, an attorney who was the highly skilled head of the Federal Railroad Administration
Federal Railroad Administration
The Federal Railroad Administration is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation. The agency was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966...

 (FRA) under the Reagan Administration from 1983–1989. Claytor, the longest serving Amtrak CEO, at 12 years, clearly enjoyed a good relationship with Congress and was perceived by many in the rail industry and government to have done an outstanding job of running Amtrak. Due to limited federal funding, Claytor was forced to use short-term debt
Money market
The money market is a component of the financial markets for assets involved in short-term borrowing and lending with original maturities of one year or shorter time frames. Trading in the money markets involves Treasury bills, commercial paper, bankers' acceptances, certificates of deposit,...

 to keep most of its operations running. Also, during the Reagan Administration, Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....

 tacitly supported Amtrak.

In the 1990s, Claytor was succeeded at Amtrak's helm by a succession of career public servants. First, Thomas Downs, who had overseen the Union Station project in Washington, D.C.
Union Station (Washington, D.C.)
Washington Union Station is a train station and leisure destination visited by 32 million people each year in the center of Washington, D.C. The train station is served by Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services as well as by Washington Metro subway trains and local buses...

, which experienced substantial delays and cost overruns, assumed the leadership. Amtrak faced a serious cash crisis during 1997. However, Tim Gillespie, Amtrak's highly regarded vice president for government affairs for almost two decades, persuaded Congress to include a provision in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 reduced several federal taxes in the United States.Subject to certain phase-in rules, the top capital gains rate fell from 28% to 20%. The 15% bracket was lowered to 10%....

 that resulted in Amtrak receiving a $2.3 billion tax refund that resolved their cash crisis. In January, 1998, after Amtrak weathered this serious cash shortfall, George Warrington
George Warrington
George David Warrington was an American transportation official, who served New Jersey Transit for 28 years, latterly in the post of executive director...

 succeeded Downs. Warrington previously led Amtrak's NEC Business Unit. Warrington ran into trouble with Congress and the Administration through lavish spending and extensive borrowing. When he attempted to mortgage Penn Station in New York City he ran into a fire storm of opposition in Congress. Warrington stepped down shortly thereafter. The 1988 Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis
Michael Dukakis
Michael Stanley Dukakis served as the 65th and 67th Governor of Massachusetts from 1975–1979 and from 1983–1991, and was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. He was born to Greek immigrants in Brookline, Massachusetts, also the birthplace of John F. Kennedy, and was the longest serving...

 served as Amtrak's vice chairman of the board and was nominated as a director by President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 in 1998.

In April 2002, David L. Gunn
David L. Gunn
David L. Gunn is a transportation system administrator who has headed several significant railroads and transit systems in North America....

 was selected as president. Gunn had a strong reputation as a straightforward and experienced manager. Years earlier (between 1991 and 1994), Gunn's refusal to "do politics" put him at odds with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is a tri-jurisdictional government agency that operates transit service in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including the Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess...

 board of directors, which included representatives from the District of Columbia and suburban jurisdictions in Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. Gunn was an accomplished public servant and railroad person and his successes before Amtrak earned him a great deal of credibility, despite a sometimes-rough relationship with politicians and labor unions.

Gunn was polite but direct in response to congressional criticism of Amtrak, and his tenure was punctuated by successes in reducing layers of management overhead in Amtrak and streamlining operations. Amtrak's Board of Directors removed Gunn on November 9, 2005. The board then appointed David Hughes
David Hughes (Amtrak)
David J. Hughes is a United States railroad executive.Hughes has worked in the railroad industry for more than 30 years and was a member of Amtrak's senior management since 2002, serving as the company's Chief Engineer under President David L...

, Amtrak's Chief Engineer, as interim CEO. Given Gunn's solid performance, many Amtrak supporters feared that Gunn's departure was Amtrak's death knell, although those fears have not been realized. On August 29, 2006 Alexander Kummant
Alexander Kummant
Alexander K. Kummant was named by Amtrak on August 29, 2006, as the railroad company's new president and chief executive officer effective September 12 of that year. He succeeded David L. Gunn in this position who was dismissed in November 2005, and David Hughes who had been serving as interim...

 was named as Gunn's permanent replacement effective September 12, 2006. Kummant resigned on November 14, 2008. The board appointed Amtrak COO William Crosbie as interim CEO. On November 26, 2008, the board appointed Federal Railroad Administration chairman Joseph H. Boardman
Joseph H. Boardman
Joseph H. Boardman is the president of Amtrak and formerly Administrator of the United States Federal Railroad Administration.He was nominated by President George W. Bush on March 17, 2005 and confirmed by the United States Senate on April 28, 2005. He was the eleventh Federal Railroad...

 as interim Amtrak President and CEO for one year. In January 2010, Amtrak announced that it had extended Boardman's appointment indefinitely.

Public funding

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. 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. Amtrak made financial improvements during the period, but ultimately did not achieve self-sufficiency.

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
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 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 Department of Transportation's 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 2006, Amtrak received just under $1.4 billion, with the condition that 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
Auto Train
Auto Train is an scheduled train service for passengers and their automobiles operated by Amtrak between Lorton, Virginia , and Sanford, Florida . Although there are similar services around the world, the Auto Train is the only one of its kind in the United States...

 and Empire Builder
Empire Builder
The Empire Builder is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Midwestern and Northwestern United States. It is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and busiest daily train, carrying more than 500,000 travelers annually since 2007. Overall, it is the railroad's 10th-busiest line. Before...

 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
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, Washington, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

, and New York, as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, which provides some of the resources for the operation of the Cascades
Amtrak Cascades
The Amtrak Cascades is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in partnership with the states of Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and the province of British Columbia in Canada...

 route.

With the dramatic rise in gasoline prices during 2007–2008, Amtrak has 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
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 passed S-294, Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2007 (70–22) sponsored by Senators Frank Lautenberg
Frank Lautenberg
Frank Raleigh Lautenberg is the senior United States Senator from New Jersey and a member of the Democratic Party. Previously, he was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.-Early life, career, and family:...

 and Trent Lott
Trent Lott
Chester Trent Lott, Sr. , is a former United States Senator from Mississippi and has served in numerous leadership positions in the House of Representatives and the Senate....

. 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
2008 Chatsworth train collision
The Chatsworth train collision occurred at 16:22 PDT on Friday September 12, 2008, when a Union Pacific freight train and a Metrolink commuter train collided head-on in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles, California, in the United States...

 in California and retitled Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008
Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008
The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is a United States federal law, enacted by Congress to improve railroad safety. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 16, 2008. Among its provisions, the most notable was the mandate requiring positive train control on most of the US...

, was signed into law by President Bush on October 16, 2008. The bill appropriates $2.6 billion a year in Amtrak funding through 2013.

Controversy

Government aid to Amtrak was controversial from the beginning. The formation of Amtrak in 1971 was criticized as a bailout serving corporate rail interests and union railroaders, not the traveling public. Critics assert that Amtrak has proven incapable of operating as a business and that it does not provide valuable transportation services meriting public support, a "mobile money-burning machine." They argue 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 transportation.

Proponents point out that the government heavily subsidizes the Interstate Highway System
Interstate Highway System
The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, , is a network of limited-access roads including freeways, highways, and expressways forming part of the National Highway System of the United States of America...

, the Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

, many airports, among many aspects of passenger aviation. Massive government aid to those forms of travel was a primary factor in the decline of passenger service on privately owned railroads in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, Amtrak pays property taxes (through fees to host railroads) that highway users do not pay. Advocates therefore assert that Amtrak should only be expected to be as self-sufficient as those competing modes of transit.

Along these lines, in a June 2008 interview with Reuters, Amtrak President Alex Kummant made specific observations: $10 billion per year is transferred from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund; $2.7 billion is granted to the FAA; $8 billion goes to "security and life safety for cruise ships." Overall, Kummant claims that Amtrak receives $40 in federal funds per passenger, while highways are subsidized at a rate of $500–$700 per automobile. Moreover, Amtrak provides all of its own security, while airport security is a separate federal subsidy. Kummant added: "Let's not even get into airport construction which is a miasma of state, federal and local tax breaks and tax refinancing and God knows what."

According to the United States Department of Transportation
United States Department of Transportation
The United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967...

's Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics , as part of the United States Department of Transportation, compiles, analyzes, and makes accessible information on the nation's transportation systems; collects information on intermodal transportation and other areas as needed; and improves the quality and...

, rail and mass transit are considerably more subsidized on a per passenger-mile basis by the federal government than other forms of transportation; the subsidy varies year to year, but exceeds $100 dollars (in 2000 dollars) per thousand passenger-miles, compared to subsidies around $10 per thousand passenger-miles for aviation (with general aviation subsidized considerably more per passenger-mile than commercial aviation), subsidies around $4 per thousand passenger-miles for intercity buses, and automobiles being a small net contributor through the gas tax and other user fees rather than being subsidized. On a total subsidy basis, aviation, with many more passenger-miles per year, is subsidized at a similar level to Amtrak. The analysis does not consider social costs and benefits, or difficult-to-quantify effects of some regulation, such as safety regulation.

Critics, such as the Cato Institute's Randal O'Toole, argue that gasoline taxes amount to user fees because people are taxed to the extent they use the roads. However, there is still a significant amount of road spending that is not covered by the gas tax. It covers little of the costs for local highways and in many states little of the cost for state highways. Taking these facts into account, though, O'Toole claims on page 2 of his report that "in 2006, Americans paid $93.6 billion in tolls, gas taxes, and other highway user fees. Of this amount, $19.3 billion was diverted to mass transit and other non-highway activities. At the same time, various governments—mainly local—spent $44.5 billion in property, sales, or other taxes on highways, roads, and streets. The net subsidy to highways was $25.1 billion, or about half a penny per passenger mile." O'Toole's road budget and passenger-mile numbers are disputed. In the same year, Amtrak receives direct subsidies of just over $1 billion, or 22 cents per passenger mile.

Labor issues

Many trade union jobs were saved by the bailout, and Amtrak itself finances the pensions of most railroad employees, even if they had never worked for Amtrak directly or never worked in passenger railroad service.

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 of 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.

Still, though, the influence of unions is a strong force against change. Amtrak has 14 separate unions to negotiate with, because of the fragmentation of railroad unions by job. 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 Amtrak president Kummant seems poised to follow a cooperative posture with Amtrak's trade unions. He has ruled out plans to privatize large parts of Amtrak's unionized workforce.

In late 2007 and early 2008, however, major labor issues came up, a result of a dispute between Amtrak and 16 unions over healthcare, specifically which employees healthcare should be available to. The dispute was not resolved quickly, and the situation escalated, to the point of President Bush declaring a Presidential Emergency Board to resolve the issues. It was not immediately successful, and a strike was threatened, to begin on January 30, 2008. In the middle of that month, however, it was announced that Amtrak and the unions had come to terms and January 30 passed without a strike. In late February it was announced that three more unions had worked out their differences, and as of that time it seems unlikely that any more issues will arise in the near future.

Amtrak operations and services

Amtrak is no longer required by law, but is encouraged, to operate a national route system. Amtrak has some presence in all of the 48 contiguous states except Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

 and South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

. Service on the NEC, between Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., as well as between Philadelphia and Harrisburg
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 49,528, making it the ninth largest city in Pennsylvania...

, Pennsylvania, 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 trips weekly on the Sunset Limited
Sunset Limited
The Sunset Limited is a passenger train that for most of its history has run between New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, and that from early 1993 through late August 2005 also ran east of New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida, making it during that time the only true transcontinental...

 (Los Angeles, California, to New Orleans, Louisiana), to weekday service several times per hour on the NEC, (New York City to Washington, D.C.) Amtrak also operates a captive bus service, Thruway Motorcoach, which provides connections to train routes. In addition, the company owns Passenger Railway Insurance.

The most popular and heavily used services are those running on the NEC, which include the Acela Express
Acela Express
The Acela Express is Amtrak's high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor in the Northeast United States between Washington, D.C., and Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York...

, and Northeast Regional. The NEC serves Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Massachusetts; New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and many communities between. The NEC services accounted for 10.0 million of Amtrak's 25.7 million passengers in fiscal year 2007.

Regional services in California, subsidized by the California Department of Transportation
California Department of Transportation
The California Department of Transportation is a government department in the U.S. state of California. Its mission is to improve mobility across the state. It manages the state highway system and is actively involved with public transportation systems throughout the state...

 are the most popular services outside of the NEC and the only other services boasting over one million passengers per annum. The Pacific Surfliner
Pacific Surfliner
The Pacific Surfliner is a Amtrak regional passenger train route serving communities on the coast of Southern California between San Diego and San Luis Obispo....

, Capitol Corridor
Capitol Corridor
The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in California. Because it is fully supported by the state, the Capitol Corridor operates under Amtrak California. It runs from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento, roughly parallel to Interstate 80...

 and San Joaquin services accounted for a combined 5.0 million passengers in fiscal year 2007.

Four of the six stations busiest by boardings are on Amtrak's NEC: New York (Penn Station)
Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
Pennsylvania Station—commonly known as Penn Station—is the major intercity train station and a major commuter rail hub in New York City. It is one of the busiest rail stations in the world, and a hub for inbound and outbound railroad traffic in New York City. The New York City Subway system also...

 (first), Washington (Union Station)
Union Station (Washington, D.C.)
Washington Union Station is a train station and leisure destination visited by 32 million people each year in the center of Washington, D.C. The train station is served by Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services as well as by Washington Metro subway trains and local buses...

 (second), Philadelphia (30th Street Station)
30th Street Station
30th Street Station is the main railroad station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the five stations in SEPTA's Center City fare zone. It is also a major stop on Amtrak's Northeast and Keystone Corridors...

 (third), and Boston (South Station)
South Station
South Station, New England's second-largest transportation center , located at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Summer Street in Dewey Square, Boston, Massachusetts, is the largest train station and intercity bus terminal in Greater Boston, a prominent train station in the northeastern...

 (sixth). The other two of the top six are Chicago (Union Station)
Union Station (Chicago)
Union Station is a major train station that opened in 1925 in Chicago, replacing an earlier 1881 station. It is now the only intercity rail terminal in Chicago, as well as being the city's primary terminal for commuter trains. The station stands on the west side of the Chicago River between Adams...

 (fourth) and Los Angeles (Union Station)
Union Station (Los Angeles)
Los Angeles Union Station is the main railway station in Los Angeles, California. The station has rail services by Amtrak and Amtrak California and Metrolink; light rail/subways are the Metro Rail Red Line, Purple Line, Gold Line. Bus rapid transport runs on the Silver Line...

 (fifth).

Many Amtrak trains have both names and numbers. Train routes are named to reflect the rich and complex history of the routes and the areas traversed by them. Each scheduled run of the route is assigned a number. Generally, even-numbered routes run northward and eastward, while odd-numbered routes run southward and westward. Some routes, such as the Pacific Surfliner
Pacific Surfliner
The Pacific Surfliner is a Amtrak regional passenger train route serving communities on the coast of Southern California between San Diego and San Luis Obispo....

, use the opposite numbering system, inherited from the previous operators of similar routes, such as the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Many NEC trains only have numbers.

These are the 15 busiest routes in the Amtrak system, ordered by region followed by ridership:
West Coast
  • Pacific Surfliner
    Pacific Surfliner
    The Pacific Surfliner is a Amtrak regional passenger train route serving communities on the coast of Southern California between San Diego and San Luis Obispo....

    : San Luis Obispo
    San Luis Obispo, California
    San Luis Obispo is a city in California, located roughly midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on the Central Coast. Founded in 1772 by Spanish Fr. Junipero Serra, San Luis Obispo is one of California’s oldest communities...

     – Santa Barbara
    Santa Barbara, California
    Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, United States. Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean...

     – Los Angeles – San Diego
  • Capitol Corridor
    Capitol Corridor
    The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in California. Because it is fully supported by the state, the Capitol Corridor operates under Amtrak California. It runs from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento, roughly parallel to Interstate 80...

    : Sacramento
    Sacramento, California
    Sacramento is the capital city of the U.S. state of California and the county seat of Sacramento County. It is located at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River in the northern portion of California's expansive Central Valley. With a population of 466,488 at the 2010 census,...

     – Oakland
    Oakland, California
    Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

     – San Jose
    San Jose, California
    San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

  • San Joaquin: Oakland–Stockton
    Stockton, California
    Stockton, California, the seat of San Joaquin County, is the fourth-largest city in the Central Valley of the U.S. state of California. With a population of 291,707 at the 2010 census, Stockton ranks as this state's 13th largest city...

    Bakersfield
    Bakersfield, California
    Bakersfield is a city near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County, California. It is roughly equidistant between Fresno and Los Angeles, to the north and south respectively....

     & Sacramento–Stockton–Bakersfield
  • Amtrak Cascades
    Amtrak Cascades
    The Amtrak Cascades is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in partnership with the states of Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and the province of British Columbia in Canada...

    : Vancouver
    Vancouver
    Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

    –Seattle–Portland
    Portland, Oregon
    Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

    Eugene
    Eugene, Oregon
    Eugene is the second largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Lane County. It is located at the south end of the Willamette Valley, at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, about east of the Oregon Coast.As of the 2010 U.S...

  • Coast Starlight
    Coast Starlight
    The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States. It runs from King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, to Union Station in Los Angeles, California. The train's name was formed as a merging of two of Southern Pacific's train names, the Coast...

    : Seattle–Los Angeles

Midwest
  • Hiawatha
    Hiawatha (Amtrak)
    Hiawatha Service, or Hiawatha, is the name of an train route operated by Amtrak on the western shore of Lake Michigan, although the name was historically applied to several different routes that extended across the Midwest and out to the Pacific Ocean...

    : Milwaukee–Chicago
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

  • Empire Builder
    Empire Builder
    The Empire Builder is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Midwestern and Northwestern United States. It is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and busiest daily train, carrying more than 500,000 travelers annually since 2007. Overall, it is the railroad's 10th-busiest line. Before...

    : Chicago – St. Paul
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the area surrounding its point of confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city...

     - Seattle/Portland
    Portland, Oregon
    Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

  • Lincoln: Chicago – St. Louis
    St. Louis, Missouri
    St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

  • Wolverine
    Wolverine (passenger train)
    The Wolverine is a passenger train service operated by Amtrak as part of its Michigan Services. The line provides three daily round-trips along the Pontiac–Detroit–Chicago route...

    : Chicago–Detroit–Pontiac
    Pontiac, Michigan
    Pontiac is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan named after the Ottawa Chief Pontiac, located within the Detroit metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 59,515. It is the county seat of Oakland County...



East/Southeast
  • Silver Star: New York City – Raleigh – Tampa
    Tampa, Florida
    Tampa is a city in the U.S. state of Florida. It serves as the county seat for Hillsborough County. Tampa is located on the west coast of Florida. The population of Tampa in 2010 was 335,709....

     – Miami

Northeast
  • Northeast Regional: Boston
    Boston
    Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

    /Springfield
    Springfield, Massachusetts
    Springfield is the most populous city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern...

     – New York – Philadelphia – Baltimore
    Baltimore
    Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

     – Washington, DC – Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

     (either Richmond, Lynchburg, or Newport News)
  • Acela: Boston, MA – Washington, D.C.
  • Keystone
    Keystone Service
    Amtrak's Keystone Service provides frequent passenger train service along the Amtrak-owned Keystone Corridor and Northeast Corridor between the Harrisburg Transportation Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Station in New York via 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. It is...

    : Harrisburg
    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
    Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 49,528, making it the ninth largest city in Pennsylvania...

     – Philadelphia – New York
  • Empire
    Empire Service (Amtrak)
    The Empire Service is a train service operated by Amtrak within the state of New York in the United States. Trains on the line provide frequent daily service along the 460-mile Empire Corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls, New York...

    : Niagara Falls
    Niagara Falls, New York
    Niagara Falls is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 50,193, down from the 55,593 recorded in the 2000 census. It is across the Niagara River from Niagara Falls, Ontario , both named after the famed Niagara Falls which they...

     – Buffalo
    Buffalo, New York
    Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

     – Albany
    Albany, New York
    Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

     – New York
  • Downeaster
    Downeaster
    The Downeaster is a 116-mile regional passenger train service managed by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and operated by Amtrak, connecting North Station in Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine...

    : Portland
    Portland, Maine
    Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

    –Boston

Rail passenger efficiency versus other modes

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 competitive with other modes in terms of safety per mile.
Mode Revenue per passenger mile Energy consumption per passenger mile Deaths per 100 million passenger miles Reliability
Domestic airlines 13.0¢ 2,931 BTUs
British thermal unit
The British thermal unit is a traditional unit of energy equal to about 1055 joules. It is approximately the amount of energy needed to heat of water, which is exactly one tenth of a UK gallon or about 0.1198 US gallons, from 39°F to 40°F...

 
0.02 deaths 76%
Transit buses 12.9¢ 2,656 BTUs 0.05 deaths N/A
Amtrak 30.7¢ 1,745 BTUs 0.03 deaths 80%
Autos N/A 3,501 BTUs 0.8 deaths N/A


It should be noted that 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 (402.3 km) considered late if they're more than 10 minutes behind schedule, up to 30 minutes for trips over 551 miles (886.7 km) in length.

Intermodal connections

Intermodal
Intermodal passenger transport
Intermodal passenger transport involves more than one mode of transport of passengers. Some modes of transportation have always been intermodal; for example, most major airports have extensive facilities for automobile parking and have good rail or bus connections to the cities nearby. Urban bus...

 connections between Amtrak trains and other transportation are available at many stations. Most Amtrak rail stations in downtown areas
Central business district
A central business district is the commercial and often geographic heart of a city. In North America this part of a city is commonly referred to as "downtown" or "city center"...

 have connections to local public transport. Amtrak also code shares with Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines was a major American airline now merged with United Airlines. On May 3, 2010, Continental Airlines, Inc. and UAL, Inc. announced a merger via a stock swap, and on October 1, 2010, the merger closed and UAL changed its name to United Continental Holdings, Inc...

, providing service between Newark Liberty International Airport
Newark Liberty International Airport
Newark Liberty International Airport , first named Newark Metropolitan Airport and later Newark International Airport, is an international airport within the city limits of both Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States...

 (via its Amtrak station
Newark Liberty International Airport (NJT station)
Newark Liberty International Airport Station is a Northeast Corridor line station in the New Jersey Transit rail system in the Dayton area of Newark, New Jersey. Also called the RAILink station, it provides travelers access to Newark Airport via public transport. There is no bus service, parking...

 and AirTrain Newark
AirTrain Newark
AirTrain Newark is a 3-mile monorail system connecting Newark Liberty International Airport to the Newark Liberty International Airport train station on the Northeast Corridor rail line of New Jersey Transit and Amtrak...

) and Philadelphia 30th St
30th Street Station
30th Street Station is the main railroad station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the five stations in SEPTA's Center City fare zone. It is also a major stop on Amtrak's Northeast and Keystone Corridors...

, Wilmington
Wilmington, Delaware
Wilmington is the largest city in the state of Delaware, United States, and is located at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek, near where the Christina flows into the Delaware River. It is the county seat of New Castle County and one of the major cities in the Delaware Valley...

, Stamford
Stamford, Connecticut
Stamford is a city in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 122,643, making it the fourth largest city in the state and the eighth largest city in New England...

, and New Haven. Amtrak also serves airport stations at Milwaukee
General Mitchell International Airport
General Mitchell International Airport is a county-owned public airport located five miles south of the central business district of Milwaukee, a city in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, United States....

, Oakland
Oakland Coliseum Amtrak/BART Station
The Oakland Coliseum Station is a complex of two stations of two public transit providers that are within of each other: Amtrak Capitol Corridors Oakland Coliseum station and Bay Area Rapid Transit 's Coliseum/Oakland Airport station...

, Burbank
Bob Hope Airport Train Station
Bob Hope Airport Train Station is an unstaffed Amtrak and Metrolink rail station at Bob Hope Airport in the city of Burbank, California. It is served by both Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner from San Luis Obispo to San Diego and Metrolink's Ventura County Line from Los Angeles Union Station to Montalvo...

, and Baltimore
BWI Rail Station
The Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Rail Station is an Amtrak and MARC commuter rail train station in Linthicum, an unincorporated area in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, United States....

.

Amtrak coordinates Thruway Motorcoach service to extend many of its routes, especially in California.

Gaps in service

Outside the NEC, Amtrak is a niche player in passenger transportation. In 2003, Amtrak accounted for just 0.1% of U.S. intercity passenger miles (5,680,000,000 out of 5,280,860,000,000 total, of which private-automobile travel makes up the vast majority).
In fiscal year 2004, Amtrak routes served over 25 million passengers, while, in calendar year 2004, commercial airlines served over 712 million passengers.

Initial Amtrak service cuts

When it started on May 1, 1971, Amtrak implemented a fairly drastically truncated system of passenger trains compared to what had previously existed. Out of the 364 passenger trains that operated on April 30, only 182 were continued.

Initially, Amtrak served 46 out of the 50 states. The states not served were:
  • Alaska was (and is) served by the Alaska Railroad, because it is disconnected from the rest of the US.
  • Hawaii was excluded because it is outside the contiguous United States
    Contiguous United States
    The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

     and last had passenger service in 1947.
  • South Dakota's passenger trains, last run by the Milwaukee Road, were discontinued by Amtrak for budget reasons.
  • Maine was excluded because it last passenger trains were discontinued by the Boston and Maine in 1967, prior to the start of Amtrak in 1971.

Subsequent Amtrak service changes

As of 2010 Amtrak still provides service to only 46 out of the 50 states:
  • Maine gained service through the new Downeaster trains.
  • Wyoming lost rail service in the 1997 cuts.


However, even within some of the states in which Amtrak operates, service is nominal at best. Many trains operate along borders and/or away from major population areas, such as in Idaho and Kentucky. Many major cities in the Midwest, West, and South have two or fewer trains per day, such as Atlanta, Denver, Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, and Minneapolis – Saint Paul.

Meanwhile, outside the Continental US:
  • Alaska is (still) served by the Alaska Railroad
    Alaska Railroad
    The Alaska Railroad is a Class II railroad which extends from Seward and Whittier, in the south of the state of Alaska, in the United States, to Fairbanks , and beyond to Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright in the interior of that state...

    , rather than Amtrak.
  • Hawaii is proposing building a commuter-oriented elevated railroad line on Oahu.

Service changes due to freight railroads

Since its inception, Amtrak has been reliant on freight railroads and operating over their rights of way. Amtrak services are affected if a freight railroad decides to abandon a right of way that it uses. This can sometimes lead to a rerouting of a train over a different route, adding to a train's travel time, or to the complete discontinuance of a train. Several trains affected by freight railroads over the years have been:

  • In 1983, the Silver Palm
    Silver Palm (Amtrak)
    The Silver Palm was the name of two former passenger trains operated by Amtrak serving the U.S. state of Florida.- History :Amtrak introduced the first Silver Palm as a single round trip service between Miami, Florida and Tampa, Florida on November 20, 1982. The train was subsidized by the Florida...

    , later renamed the Palmetto
    Palmetto (Amtrak)
    The Palmetto is a passenger train service operated by Amtrak over the from New York City south to Savannah, Georgia via the Northeast Corridor to Washington, DC, then via Richmond, Virginia, Fayetteville, North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina...

    , between New York and St. Petersberg, Florida, was truncated to Tampa because Amtrak was unable to take on the costs of maintaining the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad
    Seaboard Coast Line Railroad
    The Seaboard Coast Line Railroad was a former Class I railroad company operating in the Southeastern United States beginning in 1967. Its passenger operations were taken over by Amtrak in 1971...

     drawbridge, which took the train over Tampa Bay
    Tampa Bay
    Tampa Bay is a large natural harbor and estuary along the Gulf of Mexico on the west central coast of Florida, comprising Hillsborough Bay, Old Tampa Bay, Middle Tampa Bay, and Lower Tampa Bay."Tampa Bay" is not the name of any municipality...

    .

  • In 2004, the Palmetto was further truncated back to the route between New York city and Savannah, Georgia
    Savannah, Georgia
    Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

    , when CSX, successor to the Seaboard Coast Line, decided to abandon its mainline through Ocala
    Ocala, Florida
    Ocala is a city in Marion County, Florida. As of 2007, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 53,491. It is the county seat of Marion County, and the principal city of the Ocala, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated 2007 population of 324,857.-History:Ocala...

    . This abandoned track had been the route for the Palmetto from Savannah to Tampa.

  • The Sunset Limited
    Sunset Limited
    The Sunset Limited is a passenger train that for most of its history has run between New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, and that from early 1993 through late August 2005 also ran east of New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida, making it during that time the only true transcontinental...

     was rerouted in 1997 to stop at Maricopa
    Maricopa, Arizona
    -Surrounding Municipalities:-Demographics:As of the census of 2010, there were 43,482 people, 14,359 households, and 11,110 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,356.8 people per square mile . There were 17,240 housing units at an average density of 540.4 per square mile...

    , 37 miles south of Phoenix, Arizona
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. state of Arizona, as well as the sixth most populated city in the United States. Phoenix is home to 1,445,632 people according to the official 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data...

    , after the Union Pacific Railroad
    Union Pacific Railroad
    The Union Pacific Railroad , headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest railroad network in the United States. James R. Young is president, CEO and Chairman....

     decided to abandon the trackage that served Phoenix. Amtrak did not have the funds to maintain the trackage, and connects Phoenix to Maricopa by an Amtrak bus.


  • The San Joaquin service from Los Angeles, through central California, to Sacramento
    Sacramento
    Sacramento is the capital of the state of California, in the United States of America.Sacramento may also refer to:- United States :*Sacramento County, California*Sacramento, Kentucky*Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta...

     and Oakland
    Oakland, California
    Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

    , cannot run into Los Angeles
    Los Ángeles
    Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

     after Bakersfield because the Tehachapi Pass
    Tehachapi Pass
    Tehachapi Pass is a mountain pass crossing the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, California in the United States. The route over the pass connects the San Joaquin Valley to the Mojave Desert...

     line between the two cities, owned and operated by Union Pacific, is the busiest single freight route in the country and thus UP prohibits passenger train use (except when the Coast Starlight's
    Coast Starlight
    The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States. It runs from King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, to Union Station in Los Angeles, California. The train's name was formed as a merging of two of Southern Pacific's train names, the Coast...

     route is being repaired). Passengers take an Amtrak motorcoach bus service between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. The 280 to 318 miles (511.8 km) route takes roughly nine hours.

  • The Coast Starlight
    Coast Starlight
    The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States. It runs from King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, to Union Station in Los Angeles, California. The train's name was formed as a merging of two of Southern Pacific's train names, the Coast...

     offers the only direct connection between Los Angeles and Oakland, and onward with Seattle. This runs along the Pacific Coast on a much longer twelve-hour schedule. Amtrak service is provided to San Jose, Oakland, and Emeryville, but not directly to San Francisco. Amtrak passengers destined for San Francisco transfer either at San Jose to Caltrain
    Caltrain
    Caltrain is a California commuter rail line on the San Francisco Peninsula and in the Santa Clara Valley in the United States. The northern terminus of the rail line is in San Francisco, at 4th and King streets; its southern terminus is in Gilroy...

    , which operates all passenger rail service north along the peninsula to San Francisco, or at Oakland to an Amtrak bus or using AC Transit
    AC Transit
    AC Transit is an Oakland-based regional public transit agency serving the western half of Alameda County and parts of western Contra Costa County in the western, Bay-side area of the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area...

     or BART
    Bay Area Rapid Transit
    Bay Area Rapid Transit is a rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The heavy-rail public transit and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County. BART operates five lines on of track with 44 stations in four counties...


Service reductions due to funding issues

Several significant Amtrak routes have been eliminated because of lack of funding since 1971, creating other gaps such as:
  • The National Limited
    National Limited
    The National Limited was the premier train of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on its route between New York City and St. Louis, Missouri, with major station stops in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio. The all-Pullman version of the National Limited was introduced by the B&O on April 26,...

    , a New York and Washington D.C. train that connected with Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

    , providing direct connections to cities such as Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio
    Columbus, Ohio
    Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

    , Indianapolis
    Indianapolis
    Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

    , and St. Louis. After its discontinuance in 1979, Chicago was left as the only passenger rail connection between the Midwest and East.

  • The North Coast Hiawatha, between Chicago and Seattle, had supplemented the Empire Builder
    Empire Builder
    The Empire Builder is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Midwestern and Northwestern United States. It is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and busiest daily train, carrying more than 500,000 travelers annually since 2007. Overall, it is the railroad's 10th-busiest line. Before...

     service to the Pacific Northwest until 1979. The Hiawatha, running on a more southern route to Seattle than the Empire Builder, provided communities along that corridor with Amtrak service, in addition to providing another daily service between Chicago and Minneapolis–St. Paul.

  • In October 1979, The Floridian
    Floridian (Amtrak)
    The Floridian was an Amtrak route that ran from Chicago to Miami and St. Petersburg, Florida. Its route mainly followed that of several former Louisville and Nashville Railroad passenger trains, including the Humming Bird...

    , which was the last link with the vaunted Chicago–Florida services of such trains as the City of Miami
    City of Miami
    This article is about the streamliner. For the city in Florida, see Miami.The City of Miami was a seven-car coach streamliner inaugurated by Illinois Central Railroad on December 18, 1940. Its route was from Chicago to Miami a total distance of ....

    , the Dixie Flagler, and the South Wind
    South Wind (passenger train)
    The South Wind was a named passenger train equipped and operated jointly by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad , and the Florida East Coast Railway. The South Wind began operations in December 1940, providing streamliner service...

    , was discontinued – along with the Louisville, Kentucky
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

     to Sanford, Florida
    Sanford, Florida
    Sanford is a city in, and the county seat of, Seminole County, Florida, United States. The population was 38,291 at the 2000 census. As of 2009, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 50,998...

     Auto Train
    Auto Train
    Auto Train is an scheduled train service for passengers and their automobiles operated by Amtrak between Lorton, Virginia , and Sanford, Florida . Although there are similar services around the world, the Auto Train is the only one of its kind in the United States...

     that the Floridian connected to in Louisville. This left the Midwest without any direct connections to Florida. Today passengers must travel east to Washington, D.C. to connect with the southbound Silver Star and Silver Meteor
    Silver Meteor
    The Silver Meteor is a 1389-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Silver Service brand, running from New York City, New York, south to Miami, Florida, via the Northeast Corridor to Washington, D.C., thence via Richmond, Virginia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; North Charleston, South...

    .

  • In 1985, the local Minneapolis/Saint Paul to Duluth, Minnesota
    Duluth, Minnesota
    Duluth is a port city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Saint Louis County. The fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth had a total population of 86,265 in the 2010 census. Duluth is also the second largest city that is located on Lake Superior after Thunder Bay, Ontario,...

     service, the North Star
    North Star (Amtrak)
    The North Star was a passenger train operated by Amtrak along the "Hiawatha Corridor" during the late 1970s and early- to mid-1980s. It originally operated as a Chicago, Illinois–Duluth, Minnesota train via Saint Paul, Minnesota, but was soon converted to a Saint Paul–Duluth local...

    , was eliminated and replaced with through motorcoach service.

  • In 1995, the Atlantic City Express
    Atlantic City Express (Amtrak)
    The Atlantic City Express was an Amtrak train that ran from both New York City and Washington, D.C. to Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the Northeastern United States....

     service from New York and Washington D.C. to Atlantic City via Philadelphia, was replaced by New Jersey Transit
    New Jersey Transit
    The New Jersey Transit Corporation is a statewide public transportation system serving the United States state of New Jersey, and New York, Orange, and Rockland counties in New York State...

     passenger trains, which operate 14 daily trains in each direction between Philadelphia and Atlantic City.


  • In 1997, the Desert Wind
    Desert Wind
    Desert Wind was a passenger train route operated by Amtrak from 1979 to 1997. When it first entered service, it ran from Los Angeles, California to Ogden, Utah passing through Salt Lake City and Las Vegas...

     and Pioneer
    Pioneer (Amtrak)
    The Pioneer was a passenger train run by Amtrak from Seattle, Washington to Chicago, Illinois via Portland, Oregon, Boise, Idaho, Salt Lake City, Utah, Denver, Colorado and other intermediate points.- History :...

     were discontinued, thereby eliminating Amtrak service from Las Vegas
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

    , Boise, and all of Wyoming.

  • In 2003, Amtrak discontinued the Kentucky Cardinal, ending all service to Louisville KY.

  • In 2004 all Northeast Regional trains between New York and Boston via Hartford and Springfield were discontinued, but the other route between New York and Boston continues to have frequent service.

  • In 2005, Three Rivers
    Three Rivers (Amtrak)
    The Three Rivers was a daily Amtrak train running between New York, New York and Chicago, Illinois. It operated via Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Akron, Ohio. The Three Rivers replaced the Broadway Limited in 1995...

     (a reborn Broadway Limited
    Broadway Limited
    The Broadway Limited was the Pennsylvania Railroad's premier named passenger train, operating daily in each direction between New York City and Chicago, via North Philadelphia. It replaced its predecessors, the Pennsylvania Limited and the Pennsylvania Special...

    ) was canceled, however New York to Chicago trains using the northerly (formerly New York Central) route continued.

  • In 2005, the Sunset Limited
    Sunset Limited
    The Sunset Limited is a passenger train that for most of its history has run between New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, and that from early 1993 through late August 2005 also ran east of New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida, making it during that time the only true transcontinental...

    , which offers thrice-weekly service between Orlando FL and Los Angeles CA, was affected by track damage along the Gulf Coast caused by Hurricane Katrina
    Hurricane Katrina
    Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

    . This resulted in the train being temporarily truncated to the segment between New Orleans LA and Los Angeles CA. Although the track's owner, CSX, completed repairs by early 2006, Amtrak service has not resumed service between New Orleans and Orlando. This is the only example so far of a route affected by both service cuts and freight railroad issues.

Recent issues with freight railroads

  • According to August 2010 issue of Trains Magazine, the Southwest Chief
    Southwest Chief
    The Southwest Chief is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on a 2256-mile BNSF route through the Midwestern and Southwestern United States. It runs from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California, passing through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California...

     currently faces some challenges regarding some moves made by BNSF to cease all freight operations between La Junta, CO, and Lamy, NM. It has been reported that BNSF told Amtrak that as of January 1, 2010, all maintenance costs are to be covered by Amtrak if they wished to continue routing the train over the same right-of-way. Furthermore, BNSF has also declared that it will maintain the tracks between Hutchinson, KS, and La Junta, CO, at a Class 2 (30 mph passenger train maximum) speed instead of a Class 4 (79 mph passenger train maximum), again handing the bill over to Amtrak if they wanted to see service continue at a Class 4 level. These moves have led BNSF to offer to host the Southwest Chief over BNSF's currently used freight routes via Wichita, KS, Wellington, KS, Amarillo, TX, and Clovis, NM; however, Amtrak has refused and insists that they will pay the bill in order to keep the service as it currently is.

  • Three intermediate stops along the route of the Empire Builder
    Empire Builder
    The Empire Builder is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Midwestern and Northwestern United States. It is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and busiest daily train, carrying more than 500,000 travelers annually since 2007. Overall, it is the railroad's 10th-busiest line. Before...

     in North Dakota are on the chopping block due to complications arising from Devils Lake, also according to the August 2010 issue of Trains Magazine. Because Canada will not allow the waters of the lake to drain within its borders, the lake is slowly rising and threatens to submerge the BNSF right-of-way located near it. As a result, BNSF has ended freight service between Devils Lake and Churchs Ferry, handing the cost of maintenance over to Amtrak. North Dakota's Congressional delegation has declared that there will be no reroute, as suggested by BNSF, to go directly between Fargo, ND, and Minot, ND, and possibly serve New Rockford, ND; instead, they have declared that they will "find the necessary funding needed" in order to help Amtrak cover the maintenance costs.

Train speeds, frequency, and ridership: international comparisons

US passenger rail offerings are not competitive with the passenger rail offerings in most of Europe or much of Japan, when comparing train frequency, speeds, ticket prices, or geographic coverage. Canadian passenger rail services are broadly similar to US passenger rail services, however.

The causes of these differences are disputed. Some suggest that the longer distances between most US cities and the lower population density, as compared with Europe or Japan, are the primary causes. These people often also note that the NEC route has both higher population density and shorter inter-city distances than the rest of the US. These people also often note that many European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 countries have much higher gasoline taxes, which makes automobile travel much more expensive per-mile in the EU than in the US, thereby encouraging use of alternative modes of transport. Others believe that US passenger rail has received less governmental subsidy (federal and state) than it should have received. Many other perspectives about these differences exist.

Speed

Inter-city Amtrak trains outside of the Northeast Corrdior (NEC) are much slower than typical inter-city passenger rail services in much of Japan or most of Europe.
Many attribute this to Amtrak's reliance upon railway tracks owned and operated by freight railroads for trains outside of the NEC.
Track ownership in the US is different from most Europe and much of Japan, where the passenger rail services generally own and operate the railway tracks.

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 which had a dramatic impact. 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 a very poor 11% to 95%, becoming one of Amtrak's best performers. The Texas Eagle
Texas Eagle
The Texas Eagle is a 1306-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the central and western United States. Trains run daily between Chicago, Illinois, and San Antonio, Texas, and continue to Los Angeles, California, 2728 miles total, three days a week...

 went from 22.4% to 96.7%, and the California Zephyr
California Zephyr
The California Zephyr is a long passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the midwestern and western United States.It runs from Chicago, Illinois, in the east to Emeryville, California, in the west, passing through the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California...

, with an abysmal 5% on-time record in 2008, went up to 78.3%. However, this improved performance also 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 traffic.

Separately, a 1947 ICC order required, by year-end 1951, enhanced safety features for all trains traveling above a 79 mph limit. The infrastructure required for cab signaling, automatic train stop
Automatic Train Stop
An automatic train stop is a system on a train that will automatically stop a train if certain situations happened to prevent accidents from happening....

 and other enhancements were uneconomical for freight railroads in most of the US. Crucially, outside the NEC, Amtrak trains primarily use trackage rights to travel on freight railroad tracks. So this ICC safety rule effectively killed further development of US high-speed rail outside of the NEC. In the NEC the Pennsylvania Railroad
Pennsylvania Railroad
The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad, founded in 1846. Commonly referred to as the "Pennsy", the PRR was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....

 and others already had installed cab signaling by 1947. By contrast, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia all operate trains at 100 mph (160 km/h) or higher using conventional lineside signalling.

As a result of that 1947 ICC order, few trains in the United States operate above 79 mph (127.1 km/h) outside of the NEC. A notable exception is the Southwest Chief
Southwest Chief
The Southwest Chief is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on a 2256-mile BNSF route through the Midwestern and Southwestern United States. It runs from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California, passing through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California...

, which travels up to 90 miles per hour (144.8 km/h) along various stretches of its Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

–Los Angeles route. However, positive train control
Positive Train Control
Positive train control is a system of monitoring and controlling train movements to provide increased safety.-Overview:The main concept in PTC is that the train receives information about its location and where it is allowed to safely travel, also known as movement authorities...

 (PTC) signaling is required to be implemented by 2015 under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008
Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008
The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is a United States federal law, enacted by Congress to improve railroad safety. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 16, 2008. Among its provisions, the most notable was the mandate requiring positive train control on most of the US...

; PTC signaling is sufficient to remove the 79 mph limit. The Wolverine has already had some PTC signaling and other upgrades put in place to enable higher speeds. PTC has proven to be a much less expensive method to provide enhanced signaling than earlier technologies used in the United States.

In Britain, for example, the 393 miles (632.5 km) journey from London to Edinburgh is completed in around four and a half hours (an average speed of around 87 miles (140 km) per hour). In the USA, the 340 miles (547.2 km) journey on the Cardinal from New York to Charlottesville
Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville is an independent city geographically surrounded by but separate from Albemarle County in the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States, and named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the queen consort of King George III of the United Kingdom.The official population estimate for...

 takes some seven hours, an average of just under 49 miles (78.9 km) per hour. Even the flagship Acela service between New York and Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 only averages, in its three and a half hour journey, around 63 miles (101.4 km) per hour, in large part due to the age of the trackage and catenary system, which has been undergoing renovation in stages since Acelas 2001 introduction. Also, some segments of track in the NEC are too close together for the Acela carriages to safely tilt while also maintaining FRA-mandated minimum space between trains on parallel tracks.

Unlike Canada, the US, and most of the UK, the dedicated high-speed trains (e.g. Japan's Shinkansen, France's TGV) of China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain generally use special high-speed railroad tracks that were constructed for the sole use of high-speed passenger trains.

Train frequency

Frequency of trains even between major destinations in the USA (again outside the NEC) is low when compared with most European countries. Many long distance main lines in Europe operate to half-hourly frequencies throughout the day, whereas in the USA many major cities (such as Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

 and Dallas) have once-daily intercity rail service. The causes for this are disputed.

For usage of Amtrak trains/routes: see List of Amtrak routes

Ridership

The ridership for US intercity lines is lower than in most of Europe and much of Japan.

For example, the route from Chicago to San Antonio (the Texas Eagle
Texas Eagle
The Texas Eagle is a 1306-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the central and western United States. Trains run daily between Chicago, Illinois, and San Antonio, Texas, and continue to Los Angeles, California, 2728 miles total, three days a week...

), taking in Fort Worth
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is the 16th-largest city in the United States of America and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. Located in North Central Texas, just southeast of the Texas Panhandle, the city is a cultural gateway into the American West and covers nearly in Tarrant, Parker, Denton, and...

 and other major cities and towns along its route, had a ridership in 2008 of just 251,518 passengers; while the relatively minor station of Lowestoft
Lowestoft railway station
Lowestoft railway station, formerly known as Lowestoft Central railway station, is a staffed railway station serving the town of Lowestoft in Suffolk. It is the terminus of the Wherry Line from Norwich and the East Suffolk Line from Ipswich. It is the easternmost station on the National Rail network...

 (population 55,000) in Suffolk
Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

, England had a patronage of over 410,000 for the same period. Some Amtrak routes (for example the Heartland Flyer
Heartland Flyer
The Heartland Flyer is a daily passenger train that follows a 206-mile route between Fort Worth, Texas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Amtrak serves as contractor, initially only for the State of Oklahoma, but now also to the State of Texas....

 with its ridership of only 80,892 per annum that Amtrak operates under contracts with the Government of Oklahoma
Government of Oklahoma
The government of the US State of Oklahoma, established by the Oklahoma Constitution, is a republican democracy modeled after the Federal government of the United States. The state government has three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial...

 and the Government of Texas) have minuscule ridership compared with European standards.
Yearly Ridership

Through Sept. of the fiscal year. (1971-2002 data: http://www.narprail.org/cms/index.php/resources/more/amtrak_ridership/)
  • 1971 - 6,450,304 (May-Oct only)
  • 1972 - 15,848,327
  • 1973 - 16,958,056
  • 1974 - 18,670,319
  • 1975 - 17,269,000 (estimated Oct-Dec)
  • 1976 - 18,046,136
  • 1977 - 18,961,876
  • 1978 - 18,922,652
  • 1979 - 21,406,768
  • 1980 - 21,219,149
  • 1981 - 20,609,944
  • 1982 - 19,042,325
  • 1983 - 19,038,563
  • 1984 - 19,943,075
  • 1985 - 20,776,091
  • 1986 - 20,327,909
  • 1987 - 20,414,614
  • 1988 - 21,496,303
  • 1989 - 21,363,271
  • 1990 - 22,186,300
 
  • 1991 - 22,062,425
  • 1992 - 21,345,247
  • 1993 - 22,065,869
  • 1994 - 21,837,626
  • 1995 - 20,726,490
  • 1996 - 19,605,398
  • 1997 - 20,190,450
  • 1998 - 21,094,165
  • 1999 - 21,508,699
  • 2000 - 22,517,264
  • 2001 - 23,493,799
  • 2002 - 23,406,597
  • 2003 - 24,028,119 http://www.usmayors.org/usmayornewspaper/documents/10_18_04/amtrak.asp
  • 2004 - 25,053,564 http://www.usmayors.org/usmayornewspaper/documents/10_18_04/amtrak.asp
  • 2005 - 25,374,998 http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/annual-amtrak-ridership-of-254-million-marks-third-straight-year-of-record-increases-55452532.html
  • 2006 - 24.31 million http://amtraktrack.blogspot.com/2007/10/amtrak-ridership-258-million-revenue-15.html
  • 2007 - 25.85 million http://amtraktrack.blogspot.com/2007/10/amtrak-ridership-258-million-revenue-15.html
  • 2008 - 28.71 million http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2008/10/11/Amtrak-sets-ridership-record-revenue-up/UPI-54731223733224/
  • 2009 - 27.17 million http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/13/amtrak-ridership-shrinks-_n_318167.html
  • 2010 - 28.71 million http://www.galesburg.com/news/x748724324/30-million-riders-an-Amtrak-record
  •  
  • 2011 - 30.19 million http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1237608337144
  •  

  • Guest rewards

    Amtrak's loyalty program
    Loyalty program
    Loyalty programs are structured marketing efforts that reward, and therefore encourage, loyal buying behavior — behavior which is potentially beneficial to the firm....

    , 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 other rewards.

    Freight

    Amtrak Express
    Amtrak Express
    Amtrak Express is Amtrak's freight and shipping service. It handles small package express service, heavy freight shipments and city-to-city freight shipping by private and commercial customers. Boxes up to 36" x 36" x 36"/50 pounds, suitcases, and boxed bicycles are acceptable, but numerous classes...

     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 the United States Postal Service and time-sensitive freight, but discontinued these services in October 2004 when the contract was lost. On most parts of the few lines that Amtrak owns, trackage-rights
    Arrangements between railroads
    Railway companies can interact with and control others in many ways. These relationships can be complicated by bankruptcies.-Operating:Often, when a railroad first opens, it is only a short spur of a main line. The owner of the spur line may contract with the owner of the main line for operation of...

     agreements allow freight railroads to use its trackage.

    Commuter services

    Through various commuter services, Amtrak serves an additional 61.1 million passengers per year in conjunction with state and regional authorities in California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

     (through Amtrak California
    Amtrak California
    Amtrak California is a brand name used by the Caltrans Division of Rail for all state-supported Amtrak rail routes within the U.S. State of California...

    , Caltrain
    Caltrain
    Caltrain is a California commuter rail line on the San Francisco Peninsula and in the Santa Clara Valley in the United States. The northern terminus of the rail line is in San Francisco, at 4th and King streets; its southern terminus is in Gilroy...

    , and Metrolink
    Metrolink (Southern California)
    Metrolink is a commuter rail system serving Los Angeles and the surrounding area of Southern California; it currently consists of six lines and 55 stations using of track....

    ), Connecticut
    Connecticut
    Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

     (through Shore Line East
    Shore Line East
    Shore Line East is a commuter rail service operating in southern Connecticut, USA. A fully owned subsidiary of the Connecticut Department of Transportation , SLE provides service seven days a week along the Northeast Corridor from New London west to New Haven, with continuing service to Bridgeport...

    ), Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

     (through MARC
    MARC Train
    MARC , known prior to 1984 as Maryland Rail Commuter Service, is a regional rail system comprising three lines in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. MARC is administered by the Maryland Transit Administration , a Maryland Department of Transportation agency, and is operated under contract...

    ), and Washington.

    Amtrak's Capitol Corridor
    Capitol Corridor
    The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in California. Because it is fully supported by the state, the Capitol Corridor operates under Amtrak California. It runs from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento, roughly parallel to Interstate 80...

    , Pacific Surfliner
    Pacific Surfliner
    The Pacific Surfliner is a Amtrak regional passenger train route serving communities on the coast of Southern California between San Diego and San Luis Obispo....

     (formerly San Diegan
    San Diegan
    The San Diegan was one of the named passenger trains of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, and a "workhorse" of the railroad. Its 126-mile route ran from Los Angeles, California south to San Diego. It was assigned train Nos. 70–79 The San Diegan was one of the named passenger trains of the...

    ), and San Joaquin are funded mostly by the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans
    California Department of Transportation
    The California Department of Transportation is a government department in the U.S. state of California. Its mission is to improve mobility across the state. It manages the state highway system and is actively involved with public transportation systems throughout the state...

    , rather than the US Federal Government.

    Classes of service

    Amtrak has a variety of coaches that suit a variety of needs. Class choices are similar to those used by airlines.

    First Class

    First Class service is currently offered on the Acela Express only. Previously First Class was offered on the Northeast Direct (predecessor to the Northeast Regional) as well as the Metroliner up until that service's discontinuation in 2006.

    Seats are larger than those of Business Class and come in a variety of seating modes (single, single with table, double, double with table and wheelchair accessible). First Class is located in separate cars from the other classes. First Class includes complimentary meal and beverage service along with free newspapers and hot towel service. First Class seats are set in a 1x2 configuration. There are two attendants per car.

    First Class passengers have access to Amtrak ClubAcela lounges in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston. ClubAcela lounges offer complimentary drinks, personal ticketing service, lounge seating, conference areas, computer/internet access and televisions tuned to CNN
    CNN
    Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

    . At the Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., lounges, passengers can board their train directly from the lounge. In Philadelphia passengers use an elevator to access the train, while in Washington passengers leave through a side door leading to the train platform.

    Sleeper Service

    Sleeper Service rooms are considered First Class on long distance trains. Rooms are classified into roomettes, bedrooms, family bedrooms and accessible bedrooms. With the price of a room comes complimentary meals and attendant service. At night, rooms turn into sleeping areas with fold-down beds and fresh linens. Complimentary bottled water, newspapers and turn down service are included as well.

    Sleeper car passengers have access to the entire train. Sleeper passengers also have access to the ClubAcela lounges in stations along the NEC and access to the Metropolitan Lounges in Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Portland (Oregon), and Minneapolis/Saint Paul.

    Sleeper car passengers on the Los Angeles
    Los Ángeles
    Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

    —Seattle Coast Starlight
    Coast Starlight
    The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States. It runs from King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, to Union Station in Los Angeles, California. The train's name was formed as a merging of two of Southern Pacific's train names, the Coast...

     also have access to the Pacific Parlour Car (PPC). The Pacific Parlour Car has a bar with a dedicated staff attendant, tables for meals, and comfortable swivel chairs. Downstairs is a movie theater for sleeping car passengers only.

    Business Class

    Business Class is the minimum class of service on the Acela Express and is offered as an upgrade on Northeast Regional and similar trains. Business Class seats are larger than coach seats. Business Class passengers have easy access to the cafe car, either seated at one end of the cafe car or with the cafe car separating the Business Class cars from Regional Coach Cars. Business Class passengers also receive complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and newspapers (typically The New York Times, even if boarding/originating outside New York city).

    Two different Business Class seat configurations exist:
    • Some trains feature Business Class seats at one end of the Cafe Car. These leather seats are in a 1x2 style, with cup holders, leg rests, and recline substantially.
    • Other trains feature a dedicated Business Class car, which is actually a rebranded Long-Distance Coach car. The Long-Distance Coach or Business Class cars have more comfortable seats, more leg room and upgraded foot rests, compared with a Regional Coach car. The cloth seats are organised in a 2x2 style, offer leg rests, offer North American standard (120 V, 60 Hz) electrical outlets along the windows, but lack cup holders. One end of this car type normally has open floor space for luggage that will not fit in the overhead racks.


    Reserved Coach

    Reserved Coach is the standard class of service on most Amtrak trains (except Acela). Coach seats are always set in a 2x2 configuration, but the seats themselves come in two varieties:
    • Regional Coach is found on shorter (day) routes such as the Northeast Regional, Empire Service, the Keystone, and the Downeaster. Seats in this type of car are comparable to economy seating on airlines, with slightly more generous legroom and recline.
    • Long Distance Coach is only found on overnight sleeper routes, such as the Empire Builder and the Lakeshore Limited. These seats are equivalent to the Business Class seats on Amtrak's Regional routes, having a much deeper recline, more legroom, footrests, and North American standard (120 V, 60 Hz) power outlets along the windows.


    All ticketed passengers are guaranteed a seat, although passengers are not assigned a specific seat before boarding. The lack of advance seat assignment is unlike Canada's Via Rail
    VIA Rail
    Via Rail Canada is an independent crown corporation offering intercity passenger rail services in Canada. It is headquartered near Montreal Central Station at 3 Place Ville-Marie in Montreal, Quebec....

     and many long distance train services in Europe. If the train is not sold out, passengers are usually permitted to purchase tickets on the day of departure, or in some cases aboard the train.

    Unreserved Coach

    Unreserved Coach seating is offered on a first-come, first-served basis on some of Amtrak's shorter distance and commuter-oriented routes. Unreserved coach is also used as a designator when Amtrak through-books an itinerary with a regional transit operator's commuter service (such as New Jersey Transit
    New Jersey Transit
    The New Jersey Transit Corporation is a statewide public transportation system serving the United States state of New Jersey, and New York, Orange, and Rockland counties in New York State...

    's Atlantic City Line
    Atlantic City Line
    The Atlantic City Line is a rail line operated by New Jersey Transit between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Atlantic City, New Jersey, operating along the corridor of the White Horse Pike. It runs over trackage that was controlled by both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Pennsylvania-Reading...

    )

    Trains and tracks

    Most tracks on which Amtrak operates are owned by freight railroads, but Amtrak owns the rail track in most of the NEC and a few other places.

    Tracks not owned or leased by Amtrak

    Amtrak operates over all Class I railroad
    Class I railroad
    A Class I railroad in the United States and Mexico, or a Class I rail carrier in Canada, is a large freight railroad company, as classified based on operating revenue.Smaller railroads are classified as Class II and Class III...

    s in the United States, as well as several regional railroad
    Regional railroad
    In the United States, a regional railroad is a railroad company that is not Class I, but still has a substantial amount of traffic or trackage . The Association of American Railroads has defined the lower bound as of track or $40 million in annual operating revenue...

    s and short lines. Other sections are owned by terminal railroad
    Terminal Railroad
    Terminal Railroad or Terminal Railway may refer to:*Terminal railroad, a railroad that operates a terminal facility*Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks*Terminal Railway of Buffalo, predecessor of the New York Central Railroad...

    s jointly controlled by freight companies or by commuter rail agencies. Amtrak is able to do this because it has trackage rights
    Trackage rights
    Trackage rights , running rights or running powers is an agreement whereby a railway company has the right to run its trains on tracks owned by another railway company....

    , but it does not maintain those tracks or control train movements on those tracks.

    The arrangement has two notable impacts on Amtrak operations:
    • The host railroad is responsible for maintenance. Occasionally, Amtrak has suffered service disruptions from untimely track rehabilitation. When host railroads have simply refused to maintain their tracks to Amtrak's needs, Amtrak occasionally has been compelled to pay the host to maintain the tracks.
    • Amtrak has priority over freight traffic only for a specified and small window of time. When a passenger train misses that window, for example due to an earlier delay, host railroads may (and frequently do) direct passenger trains to follow slower freight traffic. This means that severely even minor delays quickly become major delays. In some cases, an unauthorized delay caused by a freight railroad might expose the host railroad to financial penalties by law.

    Tracks owned or leased by Amtrak

    Along the NEC and in several other areas, Amtrak owns 730 route-miles of track (1175 km), including 17 tunnels consisting of 29.7 miles (47.8 km) of track, and 1,186 bridges (including the famous Hell Gate Bridge
    Hell Gate Bridge
    The Hell Gate Bridge or Hell's Gate Bridge is a steel through arch railroad bridge between Astoria in the borough of Queens and Randall's and Wards Islands in New York City, over a portion of the East River known...

    ) consisting of 42.5 miles (68.4 km) of track. Amtrak owns and operates the following lines:

    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 governments.

    Northeast Corridor

    The Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston
    Boston
    Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

     via Baltimore
    Baltimore
    Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

    , Philadelphia, Newark
    Newark, New Jersey
    Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

    , New York
    Transportation in New York City
    The transportation system of New York City is a cooperation of complex systems of infrastructure. New York City, being the largest city in the United States, has a transportation system which includes the largest subway system in the world, measured by track mileage; the world's first mechanically...

     and Providence
    Providence, Rhode Island
    Providence is the capital and most populous city of Rhode Island and was one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the third largest city in the New England region...

     is largely owned by Amtrak, working cooperatively with several state and regional commuter agencies.
    • Boston to the Massachusetts/Rhode Island
      Rhode Island
      The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

       state line (operated and maintained by Amtrak, but owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
      Massachusetts
      The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

      ), Massachusetts/Rhode Island state line to New Haven, Connecticut
      New Haven, Connecticut
      New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...

      , New Rochelle, New York
      New Rochelle, New York
      New Rochelle is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States, in the southeastern portion of the state.The town was settled by refugee Huguenots in 1688 who were fleeing persecution in France...

       to Washington, D.C.


    The Connecticut Department of Transportation
    Connecticut Department of Transportation
    The Connecticut Department of Transportation is responsible for the development and operation of highways, railroads, mass transit systems, ports, waterways and aviation facilities in the U.S. state of Connecticut. The current Commissioner of ConnDOT is Jeffrey Parker...

     and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
    Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York)
    The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York is a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the U.S...

     operate the line between New Haven, Connecticut and New Rochelle, NY through the Metro-North Railroad
    Metro-North Railroad
    The Metro-North Commuter Railroad , trading as MTA Metro-North Railroad, or, more commonly, Metro-North, is a suburban commuter rail service that is run and managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority , an authority of New York State. It is the busiest commuter railroad in the United...

    , with ownership as follows:
    • Between New Haven, Connecticut and the New York/Connecticut border (Port Chester
      Port Chester, New York
      Port Chester is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States. The village is part of the town of Rye. As of the 2010 census, Port Chester had a population of 28,967...

      /Greenwich
      Greenwich, Connecticut
      Greenwich is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town had a total population of 61,171. It is home to many hedge funds and other financial service companies. Greenwich is the southernmost and westernmost municipality in Connecticut and is 38+ minutes ...

      ) the track is owned by the state of Connecticut
      Connecticut
      Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

      .
    • Between Port Chester, NY and New Rochelle, NY the track is owned by the state of New York.

    Philadelphia to Harrisburg Main Line

    This line runs from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
    Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 49,528, making it the ninth largest city in 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 (177 km/h) to run along the corridor., Philadelphia to Harrisburg (Pennsylvanian
    Pennsylvanian (Amtrak)
    The Pennsylvanian is a 444-mile daytime Amtrak train running between New York and Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. The trains travel through Pennsylvania's capital, the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, suburban and central Philadelphia, and pass through New Jersey up to New York. Trains run once daily in...

     and Keystone Service
    Keystone Service
    Amtrak's Keystone Service provides frequent passenger train service along the Amtrak-owned Keystone Corridor and Northeast Corridor between the Harrisburg Transportation Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Station in New York via 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. It is...

    )

    Empire Corridor

    , New York Penn Station
    Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
    Pennsylvania Station—commonly known as Penn Station—is the major intercity train station and a major commuter rail hub in New York City. It is one of the busiest rail stations in the world, and a hub for inbound and outbound railroad traffic in New York City. The New York City Subway system also...

     to Spuyten Duyvil, New York
    Spuyten Duyvil, Bronx
    Spuyten Duyvil is the name of a subsection of the Riverdale section of the Bronx in New York City. The area is named after Spuyten Duyvil Creek, a Dutch name with various historical spellings and meanings, the most plausible of which is "Spinning Devil", "Devil's Whirlpool", or "Devil's Spate"...

    , Stuyvesant
    Stuyvesant, New York
    Stuyvesant is a town in Columbia County, New York, United States. The population was 2,188 at the 2000 census.The Town of Stuyvesant is in the northwest part of Columbia County...

     to Schenectady, New York
    Schenectady, New York
    Schenectady is a city in Schenectady County, New York, United States, of which it is the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 66,135...

     (operated and maintained by Amtrak, but owned by CSX), Schenectady to Hoffmans, New York

    New Haven-Springfield Line

    , New Haven
    New Haven, Connecticut
    New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...

     to Springfield
    Springfield, Massachusetts
    Springfield is the most populous city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern...

     (Northeast Regional, Vermonter, and especially the New Haven–Springfield Shuttle).

    Other tracks and Amtrak properties

    • Chicago–Detroit Line
      Chicago–Detroit Line
      The Chicago–Detroit Line is a railroad corridor owned by Amtrak which runs from Porter, Indiana, to Kalamazoo, Michigan. It is the longest stretch of Amtrak-owned rail outside of the Northeastern U.S., and carries the railroad's Blue Water and Wolverine services...

       – 98 miles (157.7 km), Porter, Indiana
      Porter, Indiana
      Porter is a town in Westchester Township, Porter County, Indiana, United States. The population was 4,972 at the 2000 census.Porter is noted for its proximity to the Indiana Dunes State Park and for its railroad heritage...

       to Kalamazoo, Michigan
      Kalamazoo, Michigan
      The area on which the modern city stands was once home to Native Americans of the Hopewell culture, who migrated into the area sometime before the first millennium. Evidence of their early residency remains in the form of a small mound in downtown's Bronson Park. The Hopewell civilization began to...

       (Blue Water and Wolverine)
    • Post Road Branch
      Post Road Branch
      The Post Road Branch is a railroad line owned and operated by Amtrak in the U.S. state of New York. The line runs from a junction with CSX Transportation's Berkshire Subdivision in Schodack northwest to CSX's Hudson Subdivision at Rensselaer along a former New York Central Railroad line...

       – 12.42 miles (20 km), Post Road Junction to Rensselaer, New York
      Rensselaer, New York
      Rensselaer is a city in Rensselaer County, New York, United States, and is located on the Hudson River directly opposite Albany. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 9,392; in 1920, it was 10,832. The name is from Kiliaen van Rensselaer, the original landowner of the region in New...

       (Lake Shore Limited
      Lake Shore Limited
      The Lake Shore Limited is a daily passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States. The train runs between Chicago and Albany, NY, where it divides into two sections that provide thru-service to New York and Boston...

      )


    Amtrak also owns station and yard tracks in Chicago
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

    , Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland
    Oakland, California
    Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

     (Kirkham Street Yard), Orlando
    Orlando, Florida
    Orlando is a city in the central region of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Orange County, and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. According to the 2010 US Census, the city had a population of 238,300, making Orlando the 79th largest city in the United States...

    , Portland, Oregon
    Portland, Oregon
    Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

    , Saint Paul
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the area surrounding its point of confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city...

    , Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

    Amtrak leases station and yard tracks in Hialeah
    Hialeah, Florida
    Hialeah is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 226,419. As of 2009, the population estimate by the U. S...

    , near Miami, Florida, from the State of Florida.

    Amtrak owns the Chicago Union Station Company
    Chicago Union Station Company
    The Chicago Union Station Company owns Chicago's Union Station and the approach tracks. It was originally owned equally by four companies - the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway and Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad , the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad , and...

     (Chicago Union Station
    Union Station (Chicago)
    Union Station is a major train station that opened in 1925 in Chicago, replacing an earlier 1881 station. It is now the only intercity rail terminal in Chicago, as well as being the city's primary terminal for commuter trains. The station stands on the west side of the Chicago River between Adams...

    ) and leases (New York Penn Station
    Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
    Pennsylvania Station—commonly known as Penn Station—is the major intercity train station and a major commuter rail hub in New York City. It is one of the busiest rail stations in the world, and a hub for inbound and outbound railroad traffic in New York City. The New York City Subway system also...

    ). It has a 99.7% interest in the Washington Terminal Company
    Washington Terminal Company
    The Washington Terminal Company was a corporation created in Washington, D.C. to provide support to railroads using Washington's Union Station. The company was established in 1901 and was jointly owned by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad. The...

     (tracks around Washington Union Station
    Union Station (Washington, D.C.)
    Washington Union Station is a train station and leisure destination visited by 32 million people each year in the center of Washington, D.C. The train station is served by Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services as well as by Washington Metro subway trains and local buses...

    ) and 99% of 30th Street Limited (Philadelphia 30th Street Station
    30th Street Station
    30th Street Station is the main railroad station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the five stations in SEPTA's Center City fare zone. It is also a major stop on Amtrak's Northeast and Keystone Corridors...

    ). Also owned by Amtrak is Passenger Railroad Insurance.

    List of routes

    Service Route
    Acela Express
    Acela Express
    The Acela Express is Amtrak's high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor in the Northeast United States between Washington, D.C., and Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York...

    Boston
    Boston
    Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

     – Washington,D.C.
    Adirondack Montreal
    Montreal
    Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

     – New York City
    Amtrak Cascades
    Amtrak Cascades
    The Amtrak Cascades is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in partnership with the states of Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and the province of British Columbia in Canada...

    Vancouver
    Vancouver
    Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

     – Eugene, Oregon
    Eugene, Oregon
    Eugene is the second largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Lane County. It is located at the south end of the Willamette Valley, at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers, about east of the Oregon Coast.As of the 2010 U.S...

     (via Portland, Oregon
    Portland, Oregon
    Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

     and Seattle, Washington
    Seattle, Washington
    Seattle is the county seat of King County, Washington. With 608,660 residents as of the 2010 Census, Seattle is the largest city in the Northwestern United States. The Seattle metropolitan area of about 3.4 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country...

    )
    Auto Train
    Auto Train
    Auto Train is an scheduled train service for passengers and their automobiles operated by Amtrak between Lorton, Virginia , and Sanford, Florida . Although there are similar services around the world, the Auto Train is the only one of its kind in the United States...

    Lorton (Washington, D.C. area)- Sanford (Orlando, Florida area)
    Blue Water Chicago – Port Huron
    California Zephyr
    California Zephyr
    The California Zephyr is a long passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the midwestern and western United States.It runs from Chicago, Illinois, in the east to Emeryville, California, in the west, passing through the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California...

    Chicago – Emeryville (San Francisco)
    Capitol Corridor
    Capitol Corridor
    The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in California. Because it is fully supported by the state, the Capitol Corridor operates under Amtrak California. It runs from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento, roughly parallel to Interstate 80...

    Auburn – Sacramento – San Jose (via Oakland)
    Capitol Limited Chicago
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

     – Washington, D.C. (via Cleveland, Ohio
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

     and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. Regionally, it anchors the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley, and nationally, it is the 22nd-largest urban area in the United States...

    )
    Cardinal Chicago – New York (via Indianapolis/Cincinnati/D.C.)
    Carl Sandburg
    Carl Sandburg (Amtrak)
    The Carl Sandburg is a 258-mile passenger train operated by Amtrak that runs between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. This train began operation on October 30, 2006 and is an addition to the existing Illinois Service rail network created in 1971 and partially funded by the Illinois Department of...

    Chicago – Quincy
    Carolinian
    Carolinian (train)
    The Carolinian is a daily passenger train that runs between Charlotte, North Carolina and New York City. The northbound train 80 departs Charlotte station at 7:40am with intermediate North Carolina stops at Kannapolis, Salisbury, High Point, Greensboro, Burlington, Durham, Cary, Raleigh, Selma,...

    New York – Raleigh – Greensboro – Charlotte
    City of New Orleans
    City of New Orleans
    The City of New Orleans is a nightly passenger train operated by Amtrak which travels between Chicago, Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana. Before Amtrak's formation in 1971, the train was operated by the Illinois Central Railroad along the same route . The train currently operates on a 19½ hour...

    Chicago – New Orleans
    Coast Starlight
    Coast Starlight
    The Coast Starlight is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on the West Coast of the United States. It runs from King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, to Union Station in Los Angeles, California. The train's name was formed as a merging of two of Southern Pacific's train names, the Coast...

    Seattle – Los Angeles (via Sacramento/Oakland)
    Crescent
    Crescent (Amtrak)
    The Crescent is a passenger train operated by Amtrak in the eastern part of the United States. It runs daily from Pennsylvania Station in New York City to New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans, Louisiana as train 19 and returns, on the same route, as train 20. Most of the route of...

    New York – New Orleans (via Atlanta)
    Downeaster
    Downeaster
    The Downeaster is a 116-mile regional passenger train service managed by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and operated by Amtrak, connecting North Station in Boston, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine...

    Portland, Maine
    Portland, Maine
    Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

     – Boston
    Empire Builder
    Empire Builder
    The Empire Builder is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Midwestern and Northwestern United States. It is Amtrak's busiest long-distance route and busiest daily train, carrying more than 500,000 travelers annually since 2007. Overall, it is the railroad's 10th-busiest line. Before...

    Chicago – Portland, Oregon
    Portland, Oregon
    Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

    /Seattle (via Spokane)
    Empire Service
    Empire Service (Amtrak)
    The Empire Service is a train service operated by Amtrak within the state of New York in the United States. Trains on the line provide frequent daily service along the 460-mile Empire Corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls, New York...

    New York – Niagara Falls (via Albany)
    Ethan Allen Express
    Ethan Allen Express
    The Ethan Allen Express is a 241-mile passenger train operated by Amtrak between New York City and Rutland, Vermont, via Albany. The total trip is scheduled to be completed in 5.5 hours. Its operations are subsidized by the State of Vermont, and the train is popular among vacationers travelling...

    New York – Rutland (via Albany)
    Heartland Flyer
    Heartland Flyer
    The Heartland Flyer is a daily passenger train that follows a 206-mile route between Fort Worth, Texas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Amtrak serves as contractor, initially only for the State of Oklahoma, but now also to the State of Texas....

    Oklahoma City – Fort Worth
    Hiawatha
    Hiawatha (Amtrak)
    Hiawatha Service, or Hiawatha, is the name of an train route operated by Amtrak on the western shore of Lake Michigan, although the name was historically applied to several different routes that extended across the Midwest and out to the Pacific Ocean...

    Chicago – Milwaukee
    Hoosier State
    Hoosier State (passenger train)
    The Hoosier State is a passenger train that provides service on a 196-mile route from Chicago to Indianapolis. It runs on the four days each week that the Cardinal does not run...

    Chicago – Indianapolis
    Illini
    Illini (Amtrak)
    The Illini is a 310-mile passenger train operated by Amtrak that runs between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois. The train is a part of the Illinois Service rail network and is partially funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation and by local governments along the route...

    Chicago – Carbondale
    Illinois Zephyr
    Illinois Zephyr
    The Illinois Zephyr is a 258-mile passenger train operated by Amtrak that runs between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois. The train is a part of the Illinois Service rail network and is partially funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation...

    Chicago – Quincy
    Keystone Service
    Keystone Service
    Amtrak's Keystone Service provides frequent passenger train service along the Amtrak-owned Keystone Corridor and Northeast Corridor between the Harrisburg Transportation Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Station in New York via 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. It is...

    New York – Harrisburg (via Philadelphia)
    Lake Shore Limited
    Lake Shore Limited
    The Lake Shore Limited is a daily passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States. The train runs between Chicago and Albany, NY, where it divides into two sections that provide thru-service to New York and Boston...

    New York / Boston – Chicago (via Albany)
    Lincoln Service Chicago – St. Louis
    Maple Leaf New York – Toronto
    Toronto
    Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

    Missouri River Runner
    Missouri River Runner (Amtrak)
    The Missouri River Runner is a passenger train route operated by Amtrak running between Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center in St. Louis and Kansas City Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. This train route was formerly operated as part of the Missouri Service train network, which included...

    St. Louis – Kansas City
    New Haven–Springfield Shuttle New Haven – Springfield
    Northeast Regional Boston or Springfield – New York – Washington DC – Virginia (Newport News or Lynchburg)
    Pacific Surfliner
    Pacific Surfliner
    The Pacific Surfliner is a Amtrak regional passenger train route serving communities on the coast of Southern California between San Diego and San Luis Obispo....

    San Luis Obispo – Los Angeles – San Diego
    Palmetto
    Palmetto (Amtrak)
    The Palmetto is a passenger train service operated by Amtrak over the from New York City south to Savannah, Georgia via the Northeast Corridor to Washington, DC, then via Richmond, Virginia, Fayetteville, North Carolina and Charleston, South Carolina...

    New York – Savannah
    Pennsylvanian
    Pennsylvanian (Amtrak)
    The Pennsylvanian is a 444-mile daytime Amtrak train running between New York and Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. The trains travel through Pennsylvania's capital, the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, suburban and central Philadelphia, and pass through New Jersey up to New York. Trains run once daily in...

    New York – Pittsburgh (via Newark, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Altoona)
    Pere Marquette Grand Rapids – Chicago
    Piedmont
    Piedmont (train)
    The Piedmont is a twice daily passenger train that travels between Raleigh and Charlotte with a run time of 3 hours and 9 minutes, including intermediate stops at Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, and Kannapolis. It follows the same exact route and uses the same stations...

    Charlotte – Raleigh
    Saluki
    Saluki (Amtrak)
    The Saluki is a 310-mile passenger train line operated by Amtrak running between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois. The train is a part of the Illinois Service rail network and is partially funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation...

    Chicago – Carbondale
    San Joaquin Bakersfield – Oakland / Sacramento
    Silver Meteor
    Silver Meteor
    The Silver Meteor is a 1389-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the Silver Service brand, running from New York City, New York, south to Miami, Florida, via the Northeast Corridor to Washington, D.C., thence via Richmond, Virginia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; North Charleston, South...

    New York – Fayetteville – Miami
    Silver Star New York – Raleigh – Tampa – Miami
    Southwest Chief
    Southwest Chief
    The Southwest Chief is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on a 2256-mile BNSF route through the Midwestern and Southwestern United States. It runs from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California, passing through Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California...

    Chicago – Los Angeles
    Sunset Limited
    Sunset Limited
    The Sunset Limited is a passenger train that for most of its history has run between New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, and that from early 1993 through late August 2005 also ran east of New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida, making it during that time the only true transcontinental...

    Los Angeles – New Orleans
    Texas Eagle
    Texas Eagle
    The Texas Eagle is a 1306-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak in the central and western United States. Trains run daily between Chicago, Illinois, and San Antonio, Texas, and continue to Los Angeles, California, 2728 miles total, three days a week...

    Chicago – Los Angeles (through San Antonio and Dallas)
    Vermonter
    Vermonter
    Amtrak's Vermonter is a 611-mile passenger train service between St. Albans , New York City and Washington, D.C. One trip runs in each direction per day....

    Washington – St. Albans
    Wolverine Chicago – Detroit – Pontiac

    Motive power and rolling stock

    Amtrak owns 2,142 railway cars and 425 locomotives for revenue runs and service. Examples include the GE P42DC
    GE Genesis
    GE Genesis is a series of passenger locomotives produced by GE Transportation Systems, a subsidiary of General Electric...

    , the EMD AEM-7
    EMD AEM-7
    The AEM-7 is a B-B electric locomotive that is used in the United States on the Northeast Corridor between Washington DC and Boston and the Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. They were built by Electro-Motive Division from 1978 to 1988...

    , the Amfleet
    Amfleet
    Amfleet is a series of intercity railroad passenger cars built for the operator Amtrak by the manufacturer Budd Company in two series during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Today, Amfleet cars are used extensively throughout the Amtrak system outside the western United States...

     car and the Superliner
    Superliner
    Superliner may refer to:*Superliner - an ocean liner of more than 10,000 gross tons*Superliner - a double decker passenger car used by Amtrak*Mack Super-Liner - a heavy-duty truck manufactured by Mack Trucks...

    car. Occasionally private cars, or leased locomotives from affiliated companies are added to the roster.

    Official Amtrak web sites


    Unofficial Amtrak-related web sites

    The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
     
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