All about Amtrak

Facts and figures about the National Railroad Passenger Corporation
Acela Express
An Acela Express rockets through Stony Creek, Conn., on the Boston-New Haven segment of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.
Scott A. Hartley
The name Amtrak is the blending of the words "American" and "Track". The railroad's official name is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

Amtrak officially began service on May 1, 1971 when Clocker no. 235 departed New York Penn Station at 12:05 a.m. bound for Philadelphia.

In 1971, Amtrak announced a schedule of 184 trains, serving 314 destinations.

Amtrak took over the passenger operations of all but three railroads who continued their own intercity passenger train service for a period of time. They were the Rock Island Railroad, the Southern Railway, the Georgia Railroad, and the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.

>The Southern Railway ceased operations of its Southern Crescent in 1979. Amtrak assumed the route, renaming it the Crescent.

The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad ceased passenger train operations in 1983. Amtrak re-routed its California Zephyr to cover the Denver & Rio Grande's routes.

Since the beginning, even-numbered trains have traveled north and east. Odd-numbered trains travel south and west. Among the exceptions are Amtrak's Pacific Surfliners, which use the opposite numbering system (inherited from their former operator the Santa Fe Railway), and some Empire Corridor trains.

Amtrak serves more than 500 stations in 45 states. Those not included are Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Wyoming is served by Amtrak Thruway Motorcoaches and plans are being developed to serve Maine. The state capital that receives the most Amtrak service is Trenton, New Jersey.

Amtrak operates over more than 22,000 route miles. It owns 730 route miles, about 3 percent of the total nationwide, primarily between Boston and Washington, DC, and in Michigan. In other parts of the country, Amtrak trains use tracks owned by freight railroads.

Amtrak rail service in the New York-Washington corridor carries enough passengers to fill 121 airline flights per day.

Amtrak trains operate every minute of the entire year.
Monthly ridership in 1971 was 1,239,402. By 1999, that figure had jumped 45 percent to 1,791,667 riders per month.

In fiscal year 2005, Amtrak served more than 25 million passengers.

Each day, approximately 61,000 guests travel on Amtrak.

Train Trips

The Auto Train, which travels between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida is the longest Amtrak passenger train with two engines and 40-plus rail cars. Auto Train service began on a tri-weekly basis on October 30, 1983. Daily service was introduced a year later.

At 86 miles, the Hiawatha, which travels between Chicago and Milwaukee, is Amtrak's shortest intercity passenger train ride.

Amtrak currently operates its Silver Star, Silver Meteor, and Auto Train to Florida.

Other Amtrak trains that once called Florida home include:

  • The Floridian from Chicago to Florida

  • The Champion from New York to St. Petersburg

  • The South Wind from Chicago to Florida

  • The Florida Special from New York to Miami

  • The Miamian from New York to Miami

  • The Vacationer from New York to Miami

Train Equipment/Infrastructure

Passenger Cars
Amtrak operates about 2,000 railroad cars including about 173 sleeper cars, 743 coach cars, 66 first class/business class cars, 65 dormitory/crew cars, 65 lounge/café/dinette cars, and 83 dining cars. Baggage and express cars make up the remainder of the fleet.

Amtrak operates 343 locomotives, 278 diesel and 65 electric.

Amtrak owns three heavy maintenance facililties in Wilmington and Bear, Del., and Beech Grove, Ind., as well as other maintenance facilities in Boston; Chicago; Hialeah, Fla.; Los Angeles; New Orleans; New York City; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Oakland, Calif.; Rensselaer, N.Y.; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

Amtrak owns 18 tunnels consisting of 26.5 miles of track and 1,165 bridges consisting of 61 miles of track,

Train Names
Amtrak's Cardinal was named for the state bird of each state on the train's route between Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The Empire Builder that travels between Chicago and Seattle/Portland was named for James J. Hill, the builder of the Great Northern Railway.

When service began on May 1, 1971, Amtrak had 25 employees. Today, more than 25,000 people are employed by the company.
Information in this article provided by Amtrak.
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