Early Amtrak trains in color

Images from the collection of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art
John F. Bjorklund, Collection of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art
In its early days, Amtrak relied solely on equipment provided by its member railroads. The passenger carrier is barely two months old in this Independence Day view from Chicago in 1971, where train No. 18, the eastbound Super Chief-El Capitan, still looks to the entire world like the Santa Fe train it used to be.
Congress created the National Railroad Passenger Corp., better known as Amtrak, in 1971 to takeover most of the nation’s long-distance passenger trains. Never intended to be a longterm solution, Amtrak is nonetheless still here, forty-five years later, operating some 300 trains each day and experiencing record ridership on many of its lines. Its board of directors recently announced that Charles W. “Wick” Moorman, former head of Norfolk Southern, would become Amtrak’s next president and CEO. Given his great success at NS, respect within the industry, and appreciation for railroading’s rich history and profound role in the U.S., the announcement brings great hope and excitement to so many of us who love passenger trains.

To mark the beginning of Moorman’s presidency at Amtrak, Trains is working with the Center for Railroad Photography & Art to present this gallery of Amtrak photographs. They come from the Center’s John F. Bjorklund Collection, which consists of 55,000 color slides of railroading throughout the U.S. and Canada from the 1960s into the 2000s. Bjorklund was most active during Amtrak’s first two decades, the 1970s and 1980s, and his images help to show just how far the nation’s rail passenger carrier has come.

All photographs are by John F. Bjorklund, © 2016, Center for Railroad Photography and Art. Browse some 1,500 highlights from the Bjorklund Collection on the Center’s website at: www.railphoto-art.org/collections/bjorklund.
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