Amtrak - USA

Amtrak - Amtrak USA - The National Railroad Passenger Corporation

The name "Amtrak" results from the blending of the words "America" and "track." It is properly used in documents with only the first letter capitalized. The railroad is officially known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak, is a corporation striving to deliver a high quality, safe, on-time rail passenger service that exceeds customer expectations. Learn all about Amtrak here from every angle.

National Rail Operator for Intercity Passenger Service

Amtrak, the national rail operator, connects America in safer, greener and healthier ways. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day — at speeds up to 150 mph — to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak also is the operator of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for four commuter rail agencies.

Basic Amtrak Facts
  • The Amtrak mission is to deliver intercity transportation with superior safety, customer service and financial excellence. To accomplish this mission, Amtrak has identified three overarching strategic themes: Safety and Security, Customer Focus and Financial Excellence.
  • During FY 2015 (October 2014 - September 2015), Amtrak welcomed aboard more than 30.8 million passengers, representing the fifth straight year in which ridership has exceeded 30 million. On an average day, more than 84,600 passengers ride more than 300 Amtrak trains.
  • Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces on more than 21,300 miles of routes. It is the nation's only high-speed intercity passenger rail provider, operating at a top speed of 150 mph (241 kph) over current infrastructure. More than half of Amtrak trains operate at top speeds of 100 mph (160 kph) or greater. The company has more than 20,000 employees.
  • An average 600 daily Thruway schedules with guaranteed connections via buses, vans, ferries and other modes extend Amtrak service to more than 400 communities not served directly by Amtrak trains in 38 states and three Canadian provinces.
  • In FY 2015, Amtrak earned approximately $3.2 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $4.3 billion in expense*. No country in the world operates a passenger rail system without some form of public support for capital costs and/or operating expenses.
  • *Unaudited FY 2015 figures; to be finalized in summer 2016.
  • Amtrak's unaudited adjusted FY 2015 operating loss was $306.5 million.
  • Amtrak covered 91 percent of operating costs in FY 2015 with ticket sales and other revenue.
  • In December 2015, for the first time in transportation legislative history, intercity passenger rail and Amtrak reauthorization language was included as part of the federal surface transportation bill.
  • When included among U.S. airlines, Amtrak ranks No. 6 in domestic passengers carried. In the Northeast Corridor (NEC), Amtrak now has a very strong position in many markets that were previously dominated by air carriers.
    • Amtrak carried more than three times as many riders between Washington, DC, and New York City as the airline industry.
    • Amtrak carried more riders between New York City and Boston than all of the airlines combined. 

The 25 busiest stations in 2015 were (Ridership equals boardings plus alightings):

Station Ridership
New York, NY 10,189,521
Washington, DC 4,971,128
Philadelphia, PA 4,138,777
Chicago, IL 3,295,630
Los Angeles, CA 1,589,391
Boston - South Station, MA 1,544,169
Sacramento, CA 1,027,013
Baltimore, MD 993,721
Albany-Rensselaer, NY 825,353
San Diego, CA 773,497
Wilmington, DE 700,341
New Haven, CT 698,656
Providence, RI 690,752
BWI Airport, MD 669,609
Newark, NJ 641,346
Seattle, WA 604,832
Milwaukee, WI 594,076
Emeryville, CA 587,926
Boston - Back Bay, MA 578,403
Portland, OR 561,596
Lancaster, PA 541,252
Bakersfield, CA 513,884
Harrisburg, PA 508,685
Route 128 Station, MA 444,670
Irvine, CA 421,736
  • Amtrak-owned property outside the NEC spine (Washington - Boston) includes:
    • Springfield Line: A 60.5-mile track segment from New Haven, CT, to Springfield, MA.
    • Keystone Corridor: The 104.2 miles of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track in Pennsylvania between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
    • Michigan Line: A 95.6-mile segment of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track from Porter, IN, to Kalamazoo, MI.
    • Amtrak owns 18 tunnels (consisting of 24 miles of track) and 1,414 bridges.
    • Amtrak owns three heavy maintenance facilities in Wilmington and Bear, DE, and Beech Grove, IN, as well as other maintenance facilities in Washington, DC; New York City and Rensselaer, NY; Boston; Hialeah, FL; Chicago; New Orleans; Los Angeles and Oakland; and Seattle.
    • Amtrak is the only railroad in North America to maintain right-of-way for service at speeds in excess of 125 mph (201 kph), and its engineering forces maintain more than 350 route-miles of track for 100+ mph (160+ kph) service.
  • In December 2012, Amtrak and CSX Transportation reached an agreement for Amtrak to operate, maintain and dispatch approximately 94 miles of the New York City to Niagara Falls Empire Corridor in New York between Poughkeepsie and Hoffmans (near Schenectady).
  • Seventy-two percent of the miles traveled by Amtrak trains are on tracks owned by other railroads. Known as "host railroads," they range from large publicly traded companies based in the U.S. or Canada, tostate and local government agencies and small businesses. Amtrak pays these host railroads for use of their track and other resources needed to operate Amtrak trains, with incentives for on-time performance.
  • The six largest host railroads for Amtrak trains are:
    • BNSF Railway, 6.8 million train miles
    • Union Pacific Railroad, 6.1 million train miles
    • CSX Transportation, 5.1 million train miles
    • Norfolk Southern Railway, 2.3 million train miles
    • Canadian National Railway, 1.4 million train miles
    • Metro North Railroad, 1.3 million train miles
  • The company's growth over the past ten years, especially on intercity corridors between 100 - 500 miles, hints at the tremendous opportunity of developing a robust, nationwide passenger rail system focused on city pairs.
  • In 2015, Amtrak received ISO 9001 certification and earned several industry awards for its business transformation that has reduced costs, restructured performance management and differentiated pay, strengthened career growth and development opportunities, implemented best-in-class recruitment and retention strategies, and created a Total Rewards compensation and benefits structure.
  • Amtrak was recognized for workplace excellence by earning a spot in Forbes magazine's first-ever "America's Best Employers 2015."
Northeast Corridor Services

The Amtrak Northeast Corridor (NEC) is the busiest railroad in North America, with approximately 2,200 Amtrak, commuter and freight trains operating over some portion of the Washington-Boston route each day.

  • 17.6 million trips were made by Amtrak passengers on the NEC in FY 2015. This included all Amtrak trains that traveled over some portion of the NEC spine (Washington - New York - Boston) and connecting corridors to Harrisburg, PA, Springfield, MA, Albany, NY and Richmond, VA.
  • In FY 2015, Amtrak carried 11.7 million passengers on Acela Express and Northeast Regional service trains on the NEC spine (Washington - New York - Boston) — the best year ever.
  • Approximately 750,000 Amtrak and commuter passenger rail trips are taken on the NEC every day.
  • The Acela Express is the fastest train in the Western Hemisphere, with a normal maximum speed of 150 mph (241 kph) on two sections of its route between Boston and New Haven, CT, (35 total miles). Its top speed is 135 mph (217 kph) between New York, NY, and Washington, DC.
  • Acela trains carried more than 3.4 million passengers and generated nearly $585 million in ticket revenue in FY 2015.
  • The name Acela comes from a combination of the words "acceleration" and "excellence." Acela Express is the company's premium service. More than 38.7 million passengers have traveled on the fleet of 20 Acela Express trains since revenue service began on December 11, 2000.
  • Amtrak owns 363 miles of the 457-mile Northeast Corridor connecting Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Trains regularly reach speeds of 125-150 mph (201-241 kph). Two sections of the NEC are owned by others:
    • The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (10 miles) and Connecticut Department of Transportation (46 miles) own 56 miles on Metro North Railroad between New Rochelle, NY, and New Haven, CT;
    • The state of Massachusetts owns 38 miles between the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border and Boston that is operated and maintained by Amtrak.
State-Supported Services

Amtrak receives funding from 18 states and other entities under 19 operating agreements for financial support of 26 short-distance routes (less than 750 miles). Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) required Amtrak and its state partners to jointly develop a cost-sharing methodology to equitably charge states for state-supported intercity passenger rail service. The PRIIA 209 methodology became effective in October 2013.

Continued operation of these state-supported routes is subject to annual operating agreements and state legislative appropriations according to Section 209. Fueled by Amtrak's valued partnership with its state partners, state-supported routes carried nearly 14.7 million passengers in FY 2015.

  • States that provide funding and the routes on which some or all service was state-supported during FY 2015:
    • California: Capitol Corridor service (San Jose - Auburn), managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority; Pacific Surfliner service (San Luis Obispo - San Diego), managed by the LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority; and San Joaquins service (Bakersfield - Sacramento/Oakland), managed by the San Joaquins Joint Powers Authority. Plus an extensive system of connecting Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach routes.
    • Connecticut: Springfield Shuttles and through trains (with Massachusetts) (Springfield - New Haven) and Vermonter (with Massachusetts and Vermont) (St. Albans - New Haven)
    • Illinois: Hiawatha Service (with Wisconsin)(Chicago - Milwaukee), Lincoln Service (Chicago - St. Louis), Illini & Saluki (Chicago - Carbondale) and Illinois Zephyr & Carl Sandburg (Chicago - Quincy)
    • Indiana: Hoosier State (Chicago - Indianapolis)
    • Maine (Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority): Downeaster service (Brunswick - Portland - Boston)
    • Massachusetts: Springfield Shuttles and Through Trains (with Connecticut) (Springfield - New Haven) and Vermonter (with Connecticut and Vermont) (St. Albans - New Haven)
    • Michigan: Wolverine Service (Pontiac/Detroit - Chicago), Blue Water (Port Huron - East Lansing - Chicago) and Pere Marquette (Grand Rapids - Chicago)
    • Missouri: Missouri River Runner (Kansas City - St. Louis)
    • New York: Empire Service (New York - Albany - Buffalo/Niagara Falls), Maple Leaf (New York - Niagara Falls - Toronto), Adirondack (New York - Montreal), Ethan Allen Express (with Vermont) (New York - Rutland)
    • North Carolina: Carolinian (Charlotte - Washington) and Piedmont service (Raleigh - Charlotte)
    • Oklahoma: Heartland Flyer (with Texas) (Oklahoma City - Fort Worth)
    • Oregon: Amtrak Cascades service (with Washington) (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, BC)
    • Pennsylvania: Keystone Service (Harrisburg - Philadelphia) and Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia - Pittsburgh)
    • Texas: Heartland Flyer (with Oklahoma) (Fort Worth - Oklahoma City)
    • Vermont: Ethan Allen Express (with New York) (Rutland - Albany) and Vermonter (with Connecticut and Massachusetts) (St. Albans - New Haven)
    • Virginia: Northeast Regional service from Washington to Lynchburg, Richmond, Newport News and Norfolk
    • Washington: Amtrak Cascades service (with Oregon) (Vancouver, BC - Seattle - Portland - Eugene)
    • Wisconsin: Hiawatha Service (with Illinois) (Milwaukee - Chicago)
  • Five state-supported corridors had ridership that topped one million or more in FY 2015:
    • Pacific Surfliner service (San Diego - Los Angeles - San Luis Obispo): 2,827,134
    • Empire Service (New York - Albany - Niagara Falls - Toronto): 1,556,521
    • Capitol Corridor service (San Jose - Oakland - Sacramento - Auburn): 1,474,873
    • Keystone Corridor service (Harrisburg - Philadelphia - New York City): 1,359,615
    • San Joaquins service (Oakland/Sacramento - Bakersfield): 1,177,073
  • Four other state-supported corridors had ridership in excess of a half-million passengers in FY 2015:
    • Hiawatha Service (Chicago - Milwaukee): 799,271
    • Amtrak Cascades service (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, BC): 751,148
    • Lincoln Service (Chicago - St. Louis): 576,705
  • Amtrak-operated state-owned equipment includes 110 railroad passenger cars, 23 locomotives and five Cascades Service trainsets.
  • In December 2012, 135 miles of right-of-way between Kalamazoo and Dearborn was purchased by the state of Michigan. It is operated and maintained (and in the future will be dispatched) by Amtrak, and is being improved for the state of Michigan as an integral part of our Michigan District (which also includes the Amtrak-owned 95.6-mile segment of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track from Porter, IN, to Kalamazoo). Much of this state-owned track will be upgraded for service at speeds of up to 110 mph.
  • Amtrak and the states of Michigan and Illinois are partners to reduce travel times by increasing maximum train speeds up to 110 mph wherever possible on the Chicago - Detroit and Chicago - St. Louis corridors. Currently, Amtrak trains are cruising at speeds up to 110 mph on 80.3 miles in Michigan and Indiana on the Chicago - Detroit corridor. As additional track and signal work is completed, more segments on both corridors will experience speed increases, which will be phased in during late 2016 and early 2017. This will ultimately result in trip time reductions of nearly an hour on both corridors.
Long-Distance Services

Amtrak operates 15 long-distance trains on a national network of routes ranging in length from 764 to 2,438 miles.

  • These trains provide service at nearly half of the stations in the Amtrak system and are the only Amtrak trains in 23 of the 46 states in the network.
  • In FY 2015, all long-distance routes combined carried 4.5 million passengers.
  • Amtrak is the only intercity passenger transportation service in an increasing number of communities as intercity bus and airline operators abandon small and mid-sized cities.
Contract Commuter Service

Amtrak is one of the largest operators of contract commuter services in North America. Currently, Amtrak provides either services and/or access for 13 commuter agencies.

  • Amtrak currently operates commuter service for the following state and regional authorities:
    • MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter)
    • Shore Line East (Connecticut)
    • Metrolink (California)
  • Amtrak provides services of various types for three other agencies:
    • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA): Maintenance-of-way and dispatching
    • Sound Transit (Seattle): Maintenance-of-equipment
    • South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (Tri-Rail): Dispatching
  • Amtrak provides access (and in some cases, other services) for seven other agencies:
    • Long Island Railroad
    • New Jersey Transit
    • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
    • Delaware Department of Transportation (DELDOT) (operated by SEPTA)
    • Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) (operated by MBTA)
    • Virginia Railway Express (VRE)
    • Metra (Chicago area)

Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia make payments to Amtrak through transit agencies or state transportation departments for use of Amtrak-owned NEC facilities by commuter trains. These agencies or states also provide other funding on the NEC, including capital funds for infrastructure and/or stations. Amtrak has agreements for access and/or maintenance where Amtrak trains operate over locally-owned portions of the NEC in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.

Amtrak Trains and Equipment
  • Amtrak-owned, active equipment includes 20 Acela Express high-speed trainsets, two Cascades Service trainsets, 1,367 passenger cars including Amfleet, Superliner, Viewliner and other types, 403 locomotives, 80 Auto Train vehicle carriers and 68 baggage cars. Amtrak continues to receive new Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) electric locomotives and new national network, single level cars that are part of a 130 car order.
  • In 2016, Amtrak will announce a contract to acquire the most technologically advanced high-speed trainsets ever to operate in North America for the next generation of Acela Express service. There will be 40 percent more trainsets and each will have 40 percent more seats than those currently in use.
  • The Auto Train, which travels between Lorton, VA (south of Washington, DC), and Sanford, FL (near Orlando), is the longest passenger train in the world, with two engines and 40-plus passenger rail cars and vehicle carriers.
  • Since the beginning, even-numbered trains have traveled north and east. Odd-numbered trains travel south and west. Among the exceptions are Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains, which use the opposite numbering system inherited from the Santa Fe Railway, some Empire Service trains and the Downeaster trains between Brunswick, ME, and Boston.
Positive Train Control
  • Amtrak is a leader in the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC), a safety technology designed to match train speed to track conditions for improved safety. PTC provides an added layer of safety on top of the cab signal and Automatic Train Control safety systems already in place.
    • In December 2015, Amtrak activated PTC on track between New York and Washington, DC, completing installation on most Amtrak-owned infrastructure on the NEC spine. PTC has been installed between Boston and New Haven since 2000. The only exceptions are seven miles, all of which are located in or adjacent to terminal areas where trains move slower and Automatic Train Control systems are in service.
    • Amtrak is scheduled to activate PTC on the 104.2-mile Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia - Harrisburg) in February 2016.
    • Since 2002, PTC has been installed and operating along the 95.6 miles of track Amtrak owns in Michigan and Indiana (Porter, IN - Kalamazoo, MI).
    • Amtrak is also working on installation of PTC on other lines, including the 60.5-mile Springfield line (New Haven, CT - Springfield, MA); the leased, 94-mile Hudson line (Poughkeepsie, NY - Hoffmans, NY (near Schenectady)); the 135-mile segment of track owned by the state of Michigan between Dearborn and Kalamazoo; and the Chicago Union Station terminal areas.
    • Most of the national network that Amtrak operates over is owned by other railroads commonly referred to as "host railroads." Host railroads are responsible for PTC installation on their infrastructure. Amtrak has installed PTC on its locomotives that operate over host railroads.
Passenger Amenities
  • Following the expansion of complimentary AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi to the Cardinal, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited and Silver Service trains in early 2016, trains carrying 91 percent of all Amtrak passengers will offer Wi-Fi connections. Amtrak is still working to provide Wi-Fi service to the remainder of the national network routes.
  • In collaboration with passengers and cycling advocates, Amtrak has increased the number of trains that offer walk-up/walk-on bike service to also include the Capitol Limited, Carolinian, Heartland Flyer, Crescent and Silver Service trains. Get more details and the latest information about ourBikes-on-Trains program.
  • Amtrak now offers passengers on Northeast Regional trains, as well as national network and select state-supported trains, the convenience of carrying small cats or dogs onboard. Get more details and the latest information about our Pets-on-Trains program.
  • Amtrak is also available on the web, and for more information, the public can visit us on Facebook,TwitterGoogle+Pinterest, the official Amtrak blog, and the Northeast CorridorAmtrak History,Great American Stations sites.
Historical Background on Amtrak
Amtrak was created by Congress in 1970 to take over the passenger rail services previously required to be operated by private railroad companies in the United States. Those companies showed they had operated these services at a net loss of millions of dollars for many years. Operations began on May 1, 1971.
April 1, 1976, Amtrak acquired its Northeast Corridor property through the Conrail consolidation process.
Amtrak is a federally-chartered corporation, with the Federal government as majority stockholder. The Board is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and Amtrak is operated as a for-profit company, rather than a public authority.


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