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Amtrak National Facts

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

Basic Amtrak Facts
  • During FY 2013 (October 2012 - September 2013), Amtrak welcomed aboard nearly 31.6 million passengers, the largest annual total in its history, and the 10th annual ridership record in the last 11 years. Every day, an average of more than 86,000 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, with more than 20,000 employees. It is the nation's only high speed intercity passenger rail provider, operating at a top speed of 150 mph (241 kph). More than half of its trains operate at top speeds of 100 mph (160 kph) or greater.
  • Amtrak is building the equipment, infrastructure and organization it needs to sustain growing ridership.
  • Amtrak is investing in critical projects that will enhance the passenger experience, sustain the national passenger network, provide much-needed capacity and improve reliability and safety.
  • Amtrak is taking steps to improve financial performance and accountability with new cost controls, efficiency improvements and debt reduction measures that will combine with better service, record ridership and resulting revenue increases to improve our bottom line.
  • Amtrak plays an important role in the national transportation network by providing travelers with a safe, efficient and reliable alternative that mitigates the effect of high fuel prices and pervasive highway and airline congestion.



  • In FY 2012, Amtrak earned approximately $2.877 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $4.036 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.
  • In FY 2013, Amtrak covered 89 percent of operating costs with ticket sales and other revenue.
  • In 2012, an average of more than 847,000 people every weekday depended on commuter rail services that used Amtrak-owned infrastructure, dispatching, shared operations, or rode commuter trains operated or maintained by Amtrak under contracts with local or regional agencies.
  • Amtrak Northeast Corridor (NEC) is the busiest railroad in North America, with more than 2,200 trains operating over some portion of the Washington-Boston route each day.
  • When included among U.S. airlines, Amtrak ranks No. 6 in domestic passengers carried. In the 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.
  • In FY 2013, Amtrak carried 11.4 million passengers on the NEC between Washington - New York - Boston, the second best year ever. Five other corridors had ridership that topped one million or more:
    • Pacific Surfliner service (San Diego - Los Angeles - San Luis Obispo): 2,705,823
    • Capitol Corridor service (San Jose - Oakland - Sacramento - Auburn): 1,701,185
    • Keystone Corridor service (Harrisburg - Philadelphia - New York City): 1,466,504
    • San Joaquin service (Oakland/Sacramento - Bakersfield): 1,219,818
    • Empire Service (New York - Albany - Niagara Falls): 1,081,329
  • Six other corridors had ridership in excess of a half-million passengers:
    • Amtrak Cascades service (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, B.C.): 811,692
    • Hiawatha Service (Chicago - Milwaukee): 820,789
    • Washington - Richmond - Newport News segment, Northeast Regional service (Washington - Newport News, VA): 578,368
    • Lincoln Service (Chicago - St. Louis): 655,465
    • Downeaster Service (Boston - Portland): 559,977
    • Wolverine Service (Chicago - Detroit/Pontiac, MI): 509,100

The 25 busiest stations in 2013 were:

Station Tickets From Tickets To Total Ridership
New York, NY 4,790,862 4,765,562 9,556,424
Washington, DC 2,520,472 2,512,920 5,033,392
Philadelphia, PA 2,062,369 2,063,134 4,125,503
Chicago, IL 1,762,317 1,760,071 3,522,388
Los Angeles, CA 822,981 820,725 1,643,706
Boston South Station, MA 723,221 710,927 1,434,148
Sacramento, CA 571,836 560,914 1,132,750
Baltimore, MD 533,746 531,830 1,065,576
Albany-Rensselaer, NY 382,179 382,719 764,898
New Haven, CT 374,670 370,860 745,530
Wilmington, DE 369,654 368,659 738,313
BWI Airport, MD 350,822 359,691 710,513
San Diego, CA 343,187 343,766 686,953
Providence, RI 326,123 334,144 660,267
Newark, NJ 331,047 325,775 656,822
Portland, OR 323,731 328,724 652,455
Seattle, WA 322,428 317,626 640,054
Milwaukee, WI 310,729 306,424 617,153
Emeryville, CA 301,677 297,182 598,859
Lancaster, PA 290,027 288,704 578,731
Harrisburg, PA 287,821 284,119 571,940
Bakersfield, CA 275,000 271,439 546,439
Boston Back Bay, MA 277,344 263,426 540,770
Boston North Station, MA 238,242 237,205 475,447
Martinez, CA 235,080 238,756 473,836
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • In FY 2013, all 15 long-distance routes combined had the best year in 20 years with 4.8 million passengers.
  • Amtrak-owned, active equipment includes 20 Acela Express High-Speed Trainsets, two Northwest Service Trainsets, passenger cars including Amfleet, Superliner, Viewliner and other railroad passenger cars totaling 1,292 cars plus 373 locomotives, 80 Auto Train vehicle carriers and 64 baggage cars. Orders have been placed for 130 new long distance single level cars, 70 electric locomotives and an RFP issued for Tier III Next Generation High Speed Trainsets.
  • Amtrak-operated state-owned equipment includes 104 railroad passenger cars, 23 locomotives and five Northwest Service Trainsets.
  • Amtrak-owned property includes:

    • Northeast Corridor: The 363 miles of the 456-mile corridor connecting Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, the busiest passenger line in the country, with trains regularly reaching speeds of 125 - 150 mph (201 - 241 kph). Two sections are owned by others: 1) the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (10 miles) and Connecticut Department of Transportation (46 miles) own 56 miles on Metro North between New Rochelle, NY, and New Haven, CT; 2) the state of Massachusetts owns 38 miles between the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border and Boston that is operated and maintained by Amtrak.
    • Springfield Line: A 60.5-mile track segment from New Haven, CT, to Springfield, MA.
    • Keystone Corridor: The 104 miles of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track in Pennsylvania between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
    • Michigan: A 96-mile segment of 110 mph (177 kph) track in Michigan and Indiana uses the first high-speed positive train control system in revenue service outside the NEC.
  • Amtrak is the only railroad in North America to maintain right of way for service at speeds in excess of 100 mph (160 kph), and its engineering forces maintain more than 350 route-miles of track for 100+ mph (160+ kph) service.
  • In December 2012, 135 miles of right of way between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, was purchased by Michigan. It is operated, maintained and dispatched by Amtrak, and is being improved for the state of Michigan as an integral part of our Michigan District. Much of the line will be upgraded for service at speeds of up to 110 mph (177 kph).
  • In December 2012, Amtrak and CSX Transportation reached an agreement for Amtrak to operate and maintain approximately 94 miles of the Empire Corridor in New York between Poughkeepsie, New York, and Hoffmans (near Schenectady).
  • Amtrak owns 23 tunnels consisting of 18.61 miles of track and 1,209 bridges consisting of 42.5 miles of track.
  • 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, Rensselaer and Niagara Falls, NY; Boston; Hialeah, FL; Chicago; New Orleans; Los Angeles; Oakland; and Seattle.
  • 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, to state and local government agencies and small businesses. Amtrak pays these host railroads for use of their track and other resources required 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, 5.2 million train miles
    • Norfolk Southern Railway, 2.4 million train miles
    • Canadian National Railway, 1.4 million train miles
    • Metro North Railroad, 1.3 million train miles
State Support

Amtrak receives funding from 18 states under 19 operating agreements for financial support of 29 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 posted their best year ever ridership in FY'13 with 15.4 million passengers.

States that provide funding and the routes on which some or all service is state-supported during FY 2013:

  • California: Capitol Corridor service (San Jose - Auburn), Pacific Surfliner service (San Luis Obispo - San Diego); and San Joaquin service (Bakersfield - Sacramento/Oakland, 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: Downeaster service (Brunswick - 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 (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, B.C.)
  • 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 (Vancouver, B.C. - Seattle - Portland - Eugene)
  • Wisconsin: Hiawatha Service (with Illinois) (Milwaukee - Chicago)
Contract Commuter Service

Amtrak operates more contract commuter services than any other company; 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 (Maintenance of way and dispatching for MBTA)
    • 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
    • SEPTA (Philadelphia area)
    • DELDOT (operated by SEPTA)
    • RIDOT (operated by MBTA)
    • Virginia Railway Express
    • 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 the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor facilities by commuter trains. These agencies or states also provide other funding on the Northeast Corridor, 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 Northeast Corridor in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.

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 services at a net loss of millions of dollars for many years.
  • May 1, 1971, was the first day of Amtrak operations.
  • 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.
Trains
  • The name Acela comes from a combination of the words acceleration and excellence. Acela Express is the company's premium service. More than 35 million passengers have traveled on the fleet of 20 Acela Express trains since revenue service began on December 11, 2000.
  • 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-mile total). Otherwise, its top speed is generally 135 mph (217 kph) between New York, NY, and Washington, DC. Acela trains carried more than 3.3 million passengers and generated more than $530 million in ticket revenue in FY 2013.
  • Amtrak and the states of Michigan and Illinois are partners to reduce travel times by increasing trains speeds to 110 mph. Amtrak trains now cruise at 110 mph for 84 miles in Michigan and Indiana and for 15 miles in Illinois, with expansions of the faster running times in 2014 - 2016 that will reduce travel times by about 60 minutes between Detroit and Chicago and between Chicago and St. Louis.
  • 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. At 1,480 feet, the boarding platform in Lorton is longer than the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago is tall.
  • Since the beginning, even-numbered trains have traveled north and east. Odd-numbered trains travel south and west. Among the exceptions are the Amtrak Pacific Surfliners, which use the opposite numbering system inherited from the Santa Fe Railway, some Empire Service trains and the Downeaster trains between Portland, Maine and Boston.
Passenger Amenities
  • Trains that carry nearly 75 percent of all Amtrak passengers across the country now have Wi-Fi connections. Wi-Fi service is available on high-speed Acela Express trains and 12 other East Coast routes as well as on the Amtrak Cascades service in the Pacific Northwest, California-supported Capitol Corridor, Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin services, and on select Lincoln Service trains in the Midwest. In May 2013, Amtrak upgraded its AmtrakConnect cellular-based Wi-Fi service to take advantage of 4G technologies that is now available on all Wi-Fi equipped trains.
  • Amtrak is also available on the web, and for more information, the public can visit us on FacebookTwitter, Google+, Pinterest, official Amtrak blog, Amtrak History and Great American Stations sites.