42 Facts About Amtrak


Amtrak is a portmanteau of the words America and trak, the latter itself a sensational spelling of track.

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Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces, operating more than 300 trains daily over 21, 400 miles of track.

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Amtrak owns approximately 623 miles of this track and operates an additional 132 miles of track.

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Amtrak received no rail tracks or rights-of-way at its inception.

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All Amtrak's routes were continuations of prior service, although Amtrak pruned about half the passenger rail network.

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At some stations, Amtrak service was only available late at night or early in the morning, prompting complaints from passengers.

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Amtrak inherited problems with train stations and redundant facilities that competed with companies serving the same areas.

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In New York City, Amtrak had to pay and maintain both the Penn Station and the Grand Central Terminal due to the lack of track connections to bring trains from upstate New York into Penn Station; a problem that was rectified once the Empire Connection was built in 1991.

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Amtrak had to abandon numerous large stations whose upkeep could no longer be justified.

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In mid-1971, Amtrak began purchasing some of the equipment it had leased, including 286 EMD E and F unit diesel locomotives, 30 GG1 electric locomotives and 1, 290 passenger cars.

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Amtrak 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.

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In late 2006, Amtrak unsuccessfully sought annual congressional funding of $1 billion for ten years.

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In 2011, Amtrak announced its intention to improve and expand the high-speed rail corridor from Penn Station in NYC, under the Hudson River in new tunnels, and double-tracking the line to Newark, NJ, called the Gateway Program, initially estimated to cost $13.

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From May 2011 to May 2012, Amtrak celebrated its 40th anniversary with festivities across the country that started on National Train Day.

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Amtrak had advised the Amtrak Board of Directors of his decision the previous week.

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Also in March 2021, Amtrak announced plans to return 12 of its long-distance routes to daily schedules later in the spring.

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Amtrak is required by law to operate a national route system.

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Amtrak services fall into three groups: short-haul service on the Northeast Corridor, state-supported short-haul service outside the Northeast Corridor, and medium- and long-haul service known within Amtrak as the National Network.

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Amtrak receives federal funding for the vast majority of its operations including the central spine of the Northeast Corridor as well as for its National Network routes.

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Amtrak operates a captive bus service, Thruway Motorcoach, which provides connections to train routes.

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Amtrak serves airport stations at Milwaukee, Oakland, Burbank, and Baltimore.

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Outside the Northeast Corridor and stretches of track in Southern California and Michigan, most Amtrak trains run on tracks owned and operated by privately owned freight railroads.

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In 2018, Amtrak began issuing report cards, grading each host railroad based on the railroad's impact on on-time performance.

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Amtrak carried 15, 848, 327 passengers in 1972, its first full year of operation.

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Along the NEC and in several other areas, Amtrak owns 730 miles including 17 tunnels consisting of 29.

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Amtrak owns New York Penn Station, Philadelphia 30th Street Station, Baltimore Penn Station and Providence Station.

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Amtrak owns 2, 142 railway cars and 425 locomotives for revenue runs and service.

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Amtrak offers four classes of service: First Class, Sleeper Service, Business Class, and Coach Class:.

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Amtrak first offered free Wi-Fi service to passengers aboard the Downeaster in 2008, the Acela and the Northeast Regional trains on the NEC in 2010, and the Amtrak Cascades in 2011.

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Amtrak launched an e-ticketing system on the Downeaster in November 2011 and rolled it out nationwide on July 30, 2012.

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Amtrak allows carry-on baggage on all routes; services with baggage cars allow checked baggage at selected stations.

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Amtrak Express cargo service provides small-package and less-than-truckload shipping between most Amtrak stations that handle checked baggage.

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Amtrak Express offers station-to-station shipment of human remains to many cities.

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Amtrak is popular among bicycle touring enthusiasts due to the ease of riding with a bike.

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In contrast to airlines, which require riders to dismantle their bicycles and place them in specialized bags, most Amtrak trains have onboard bike racks in either the coaches or checked baggage car.

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Amtrak receives annual appropriations from federal and state governments to supplement operating and capital programs.

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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.

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In 2004, a stalemate in federal support of Amtrak forced cutbacks in services and routes as well as the resumption of deferred maintenance.

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Amtrak has argued that it needs to increase capital program costs in 2013 in order to replace old train equipment because the multi-year maintenance costs for those trains exceed what it would cost to simply buy new equipment that would not need to be repaired for several years.

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Amtrak stated in 2010 that the backlog of needed repairs of the track it owns on the Northeast Corridor included over 200 bridges, most dating to the 19th century, tunnels under Baltimore dating to the American Civil War era and functionally obsolete track switches which would cost $5.

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Amtrak's budget is only allocated on a yearly basis, and it has been argued by Joseph Vranich that this makes multi-year development programs and long-term fiscal planning difficult if not impossible.

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Critics have asserted that Amtrak has proven incapable of operating as a business and that it does not provide valuable transportation services meriting public support, a "mobile money-burning machine".

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