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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 2012 (October 2011 - September 2012), Amtrak welcomed aboard more than 31.2 million passengers, the largest annual total in its history, and the ninth annual ridership record in the last ten years. Every day, an average of more than 85,000 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 approximately 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 gas 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 2012, Amtrak covered 88 percent of operating costs with ticket sales and other revenue.
  • In 2011, an average of more than 831,000 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.
  • The 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. Approximately 260 million intercity and commuter rail passengers rely on the NEC each year.
  • When included among U.S. airlines, Amtrak ranks No. 6 in domestic passengers carried. In the Northeast Corridor, 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 and New York City as the airline industry.
    • Amtrak carried more riders between New York and Boston than all of the airlines combined.
  • In FY 2012, Amtrak carried a record 11.4 million passengers on the NEC between Washington-New York-Boston. Five other corridors had ridership that topped one million or more:

    • Pacific Surfliner service (San Diego - Los Angeles - San Luis Obispo, 2,640,342)
    • Capitol Corridor service (San Jose - Oakland - Sacramento - Auburn, 1,746,397)
    • Keystone Corridor service (Harrisburg - Philadelphia - New York City, 1,420,392)
    • San Joaquin service (Oakland/Sacramento - Bakersfield, 1,144,616)
    • Empire Service (New York - Albany - Niagara Falls, 1,062,715)
  • Five other corridors had ridership in excess of a half-million passengers:

    • Amtrak Cascades service (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, B.C.): 845,099
    • Hiawatha Service (Chicago - Milwaukee): 838,355
    • Washington - Richmond - Newport News segment, Northeast Regional service (Washington - Newport News): 623,864
    • Lincoln Service (Chicago - St. Louis): 597,519
    • Downeaster service (Boston - Portland): 541,757

The 25 busiest stations in 2011 were:

Station Tickets From Tickets To Total Ridership
New York, NY 4,767,849 4,725,565 9,493,414
Washington, DC 2,527,155 2,486,836 5,013,991
Philadelphia, PA 2,031,158 2,037,382 4,068,540
Chicago, IL 1,744,354 1,738,959 3,483,313
Los Angeles, CA 829,553 827,893 1,657,446
Boston South Station, MA 727,170 720,331 1,447,501
Sacramento, CA 601,031 585,927 1,186,958
Baltimore, MD 514,019 514,890 1,028,909
Albany-Rensselaer, NY 385,547 383,866 769,413
New Haven, CT 379,846 375,823 755,669
Wilmington, DE 367,373 370,473 737,846
San Diego, CA 358,185 350,749 708,934
BWI Airport, MD 343,393 360,211 703,604
Newark, NJ 342,706 338,097 680,803
Seattle, WA 339,156 333,195 672,351
Providence, RI 330,654 338,922 669,576
Portland, OR 333,630 335,193 668,823
Milwaukee, WI 318,377 313,701 623,078
Emeryville, CA 296,689 290,187 586,876
Harrisburg, PA 285,212 286,005 571,217
Lancaster, PA 279,810 279,554 559,364
Boston Back Bay, MA 272,711 255,329 528,040
Bakersfield, CA 253,457 253,601 507,058
Martinez, CA 236,644 239,265 475,909
Boston North Station, MA 237,603 236,309 473,912
  • 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 reduced their operations.
    • In FY 2012, all 15 long-distance routes saw an increase in riders and combined had the best ridership in 19 years with 4.7 million passengers.
    • Six routes set new ridership records.
  • Amtrak-owned equipment includes Acela, Amfleet, Superliner, Viewliner and other railroad passenger cars totaling 1,455 plus 416 locomotives, 80 Auto Train vehicle carriers and 68 baggage cars. Orders have been placed for 130 new long distance single level cars and 70 electric locomotives.
  • Amtrak-operated state-owned equipment includes 124 railroad passenger cars and 26 locomotives.
  • 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 will be operated, maintained and dispatched by Amtrak, and 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 CSXT 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, 6.0 million train miles
    • CSX Transportation, 5.9 million train miles
    • Norfolk Southern Railway, 2.5 million train miles
    • Canadian National Railway, 1.4 million train miles
    • Metro North Railroad, 1.3 million train miles
State Support

Fifteen states contract with Amtrak for the operation of trains less than 750 miles outside the Boston-Washington Northeast Corridor. State and regional agencies pay most of the operating costs of these services that are not covered by passenger revenues. Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) required Amtrak and its state partners to develop a cost-sharing methodology to treat like services equally, and this methodology is scheduled to begin in October 2013. Continued operation of these state-supported routes is subject to annual contracts and state legislative appropriations according to Section 209. In addition to operating funds, many of these states also provide funds for infrastructure or other capital improvements to Amtrak routes in their states. State supported corridor services carry nearly half of Amtrak’s annual riders.

States that provide funding, and the routes on which some or all service is state-supported during FY 2012:

  • 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)
  • Illinois: Hiawatha Service (Chicago - Milwaukee), Lincoln Service (Chicago - St. Louis), Illini & Saluki (Chicago - Carbondale) and Illinois Zephyr & Carl Sandburg (Chicago - Quincy)
  • Maine: Downeaster (Brunswick - Boston)
  • Michigan: Blue Water (Port Huron - East Lansing - Chicago) and Pere Marquette (Grand Rapids - Chicago)
  • Missouri: Missouri River Runner (Kansas City - St. Louis)
  • New York: Adirondack (Montreal - Albany)
  • North Carolina: Carolinian (Charlotte - Washington) and Piedmont service (Raleigh - Charlotte)
  • Oklahoma: Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City - Fort Worth)
  • Oregon: Amtrak Cascades (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, B.C.)
  • Pennsylvania: Keystone Service (Harrisburg - Philadelphia)
  • Texas: Heartland Flyer (Fort Worth - Oklahoma City)
  • Vermont: Ethan Allen Express (Rutland - Albany) and Vermonter (St. Albans - Springfield)
  • Virginia: Extended Northeast Regional service from Washington to Lynchburg and Norfolk
  • Washington: Amtrak Cascades service (Vancouver, B.C. - Seattle - Portland - Eugene)
  • Wisconsin and Illinois: Hiawatha Service (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 provides 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)
    • 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)
    • Metra (Chicago area)
    • DELDOT (operated by SEPTA)
    • RIDOT (operated by MBTA)
    • Virginia Railway Express

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.
  • The name Acela comes from a combination of the words acceleration and excellence. Acela Express is the company's premium service. More than 32 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 $508 million in ticket revenue in FY 2012.
  • 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 already 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, and on selected Lincoln Service trains in the Midwest. In May 2013, Amtrak upgraded its AmtrakConnect cellular-based Wi-Fi service to take advantage of 4G technologies. The 4G upgrade is already complete on Acela Express and the California-supported Capitol Corridor, Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin services, and will be rolled out to all remaining Wi-Fi equipped Amtrak trains by late summer 2013, including the Northeast Regional.
  • In FY 2012, Amtrak implemented eTicketing systemwide, which provides passengers with the convenience to skip the line at the ticket window and go straight to the gate by printing their tickets whenever, wherever or by using a smartphone to present the eTicket to the conductor. It also allows passengers increased flexibility to make or change reservations.
  • Amtrak is also available on the web, and for more information, the public can visit its FacebookTwitter, Google+, Pinterest, official Amtrak blog, Amtrak History and Great American Stations sites.