Amtrak National Facts

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

Basic Amtrak Facts

  • The Amtrak mission is to deliver intercity transportation that helps move people, the economy and the nation forward. Amtrak is advancing its goal of being Americans' preferred mode of travel by running an efficient and effective business; modernizing the customer experience; and investing in infrastructure, the locomotive and car fleet, stations and facilities.
  • During FY 2016 (October 2015 - September 2016), Amtrak welcomed aboard approximately 31.3 million customers, another record year. On an average day, nearly 85,700 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. It is the nation's only high-speed intercity passenger rail provider, operating at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) over current infrastructure. More than half of Amtrak trains operate at top speeds of 100 mph (160 kph) or greater. The company has more than 20,000 employees.
  • On average, 600 daily Thruway schedules with guaranteed connections via buses, vans, ferries and other modes extend Amtrak service to more than 400 communities not served directly by Amtrak trains in 38 states and Canada.
  • In FY 2016, Amtrak earned approximately $3.2 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $4.3 billion in capital and operating expense. No country in the world operates a passenger rail system without some form of public support for capital costs and/or operating expenses.
  • Amtrak covered nearly 94 percent of operating costs in FY 2016 with ticket sales, payments and from state partners and agencies and other revenue.
  • The company's unaudited, adjusted FY 2016 operating loss was $227 million.
  • In December 2015, for the first time in transportation legislative history, Amtrak reauthorization was included as part of the comprehensive federal surface transportation bill — known as the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (P.L. 114-94).
  • 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. Amtrak is operated as a for-profit company, rather than a public authority.

The 25 busiest stations in 2015 were (Ridership equals boardings plus alightings):

Station Ridership
New York, NY 10,436,909
Washington, DC 5,098,562
Philadelphia, PA 4,328,718
Chicago, IL 3,247,117
Los Angeles, CA 1,635,039
Boston - South Station, MA 1,574,450
Sacramento, CA 1,051,001
Baltimore, MD 1.030,161
Albany-Rensselaer, NY 855,176
San Diego, CA 777,352
Providence, RI 717,537
Wilmington, DE 691,694
BWI Airport, MD 689,042
Newark, NJ 661,344
Seattle, WA 649,491
New Haven, CT 642,471
Boston - Back Bay, MA 611,527
Milwaukee, WI 597,134
Portland, OR 590,076
Emeryville, CA 581,573
Lancaster, PA 560,257
Harrisburg, PA 508,624
Bakersfield, CA 491,824
Irvine, CA 450,732
Route 128 Station, MA 450,301
  • When included among U.S. airlines, Amtrak ranks No. 5 in domestic passengers carried. In the Northeast Corridor (NEC), Amtrak 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 all of the airlines combined.
    • Amtrak carried more riders between New York City and Boston than all of the airlines combined.
  • Amtrak-owned property outside the NEC spine (Washington-Boston) includes:
    • Springfield Line: A 60.5-mile track segment from New Haven to Springfield, MA.
    • Harrisburg Line (also known as the Keystone Corridor): The 103.2 miles of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
    • Michigan Line: A 95.6-mile segment of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track from Porter, IN, to Kalamazoo, MI.
  • Amtrak owns 18 tunnels (consisting of 24 miles of track) and 1,414 bridges.
  • 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 and Rensselaer, NY; Boston; Hialeah, FL; Chicago; New Orleans; Los Angeles and Oakland; and Seattle.
  • Amtrak is the only railroad in North America to maintain right-of-way for service at speeds in excess of 125 mph (201 kph), and its engineering forces maintain more than 350 route-miles of track for 100+ mph (160+ kph) service.
  • In December 2012, a lease took effect between Amtrak and CSX Transportation under which Amtrak operates, maintain and dispatches approximately 94 miles of the Hudson Line — also known as the Empire Corridor - (New York City-Albany-Niagara Falls) between Poughkeepsie and Hoffmans (near Schenectady).
  • 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, tostate and local government agencies and small businesses. Amtrak pays these host railroads for use of their track and other resources needed to operate Amtrak trains, with incentives for on-time performance.
  • The six largest host railroads for Amtrak trains are:
    • Metro North Railroad, 1.3 million train miles
    • Canadian National Railway, 1.4 million train miles
    • Norfolk Southern Railway, 2.3 million train miles
    • CSX Transportation, 5.0 million train miles
    • Union Pacific Railroad, 6.1 million train miles
    • BNSF Railway, 6.9 million train miles
  • The company's growth over the past ten years, especially on intercity corridors between 100 - 500 miles, hints at the tremendous opportunity of developing a robust, nationwide passenger rail system focused on city pairs.
  • In 2015, Amtrak received ISO 9001 certification and earned several industry awards for its business transformation that has reduced costs, restructured performance management and differentiated pay, strengthened career growth and development opportunities, implemented best-in-class recruitment and retention strategies, and created a Total Rewards compensation and benefits structure.
  • Amtrak is the first railroad to earn a five-year accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. It recognizes Amtrak's ability to bring together personnel, resources and communications from a variety of agencies and organizations in preparation for and in response to an emergency, in addition to obtaining the ability to measure those capabilities.
  • Amtrak was again recognized for workplace excellence by earning a spot in Forbes magazine's list of "America's Best Employers 2016."

Northeast Corridor Services

The Amtrak Northeast Corridor (NEC) is the busiest railroad in North America, with approximately 2,200 Amtrak, commuter and freight trains operating over some portion of the Washington-Boston route each day.

  • 17.6 million trips were made by Amtrak passengers on the NEC in FY 2016. This included all Amtrak trains that traveled over some portion of the NEC spine (Washington - New York - Boston) and connecting corridors to Harrisburg, PA, Springfield, MA, Albany, NY and Richmond.
  • Amtrak owns and operates 363 miles of the 457-mile Northeast Corridor spine connecting Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Trains regularly reach speeds of 125-150 mph (201-241 kph). Two sections of the NEC are owned by others:
    • The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (10 miles) and Connecticut Department of Transportation (46 miles) own 56 miles on Metro North Railroad between New Rochelle, NY, and New Haven, CT.
    • The state of Massachusetts owns 38 miles between the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border and Boston that is operated and maintained by Amtrak.
  • Amtrak advanced efforts in FY 2016 to modernize major station facilities on the NEC for improved operations and an enhanced customer experience. It unveiled the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Master Plan; continued designing a project to double passenger space in Washington Union Station's rail concourse; and initiated a master development solicitation for Baltimore Penn Station. Visit nec.amtrak.com for more information.
  • Amtrak also moved forward with the planning and design of the Gateway Program, a comprehensive set of strategic rail infrastructure improvements in the New York-New Jersey area designed to increase track, tunnel, bridge and station capacity, eventually creating four mainline tracks between Newark, NJ, and New York, Penn Station, including a new, two-track Hudson River tunnel. As envisioned, the Gateway Program will provide greater levels of service, increased redundancy, added reliability for shared operations and additional capacity for future increase in commuter and intercity rail service. Visit nec.amtrak.com for more information.

Acela Express

  • The Acela Express is the fastest train in the Western Hemisphere, with a maximum speed of 150 mph (241 kph) over current infrastructure on two sections of its route between Boston and New Haven, CT, (35 total miles). Its top speed between New York City and Washington, DC, is 135 mph (217 kph).
  • Acela trains carried nearly 3.5 million passengers and generated nearly $594 million in ticket revenue in FY 2016.
  • The name Acela comes from a combination of the words "acceleration" and "excellence." Acela Express is the company's premium service. Approximately 45.7 million passengers traveled on the fleet of 20 Acela Express trainsets in the 16 years since revenue service began on December 11, 2000.

Next-Generation High-Speed Rail

  • Amtrak announced in August 2016 that it is contracting with Alstom to produce 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets that will replace the equipment used to provide Acela Express service. The contract is part of $2.45 billion that will be invested on the NEC as part of a multifaceted modernization program to renew and expand the Acela Express service. The trainsets will operate initially aat speeds up to 160 mph (257 kph) and will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph (299 kph). They use the base design of one of the safest high-speed trainsets - concentrated power cars, located at each end of the trainset, provide an extra buffer of protection. The manufacture of the trainsets will create 400 jobs in upstate New York. Parts for the new equipment will come from more than 350 suppliers in more than 30 states, generating an additional 1,000 jobs. The first trainset should enter revenue service in 2021, and all trainsets are expected to be in service by the end of 2022.
  • In addition to the trainsets, Amtrak is also investing in infrastructure needed to improve the onboard and station customer experience and accommodate increased high-speed rail service levels. Amtrak will invest in significant improvements at Washington Union Station, Moynihan Station New York, as well as track capacity and ride quality improvements to the NEC that will benefit all intercity and commuter customers. Amtrak will also modify fleet maintenance facilities to accommodate the new trainsets.

State-Supported Services

Amtrak receives funding from 18 states through 21 agencies 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.

States and other entities that provide funding and the routes on which some or all service was state-supported during FY 2016:

Northeast

  • Connecticut: Springfield Shuttles and Northeast Regional (through) trains (Springfield, MA - New Haven), (with Massachusetts) and Vermonter (St. Albans, VT - New Haven), (with Massachusetts and Vermont).
  • Maine (Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority): Downeaster service (Brunswick - Portland - Boston)
  • Massachusetts: Springfield Shuttles and Northeast Regional (through) trains (Springfield, MA - New Haven), (with Connecticut) and Vermonter (St. Albans, VT - New Haven), (with Connecticut and Vermont).
  • New York: Empire Service (New York - Albany - Buffalo/Niagara Falls), Maple Leaf (New York - Niagara Falls - Toronto), Adirondack (New York - Montreal), Ethan Allen Express (New York - Rutland, VT), (with Vermont).
  • Pennsylvania: Keystone Service (Harrisburg - Philadelphia) and Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia - Pittsburgh).
  • Vermont: Ethan Allen Express (with New York) (Rutland, VT - Albany, NY) and Vermonter (with Connecticut and Massachusetts), (St. Albans, VT - New Haven).
  • Virginia: Northeast Regional service (Washington - Lynchburg/Richmond/Newport News/Norfolk).

Midwest

  • Illinois: Hiawatha Service (Chicago - Milwaukee), (with Wisconsin), Lincoln Service (Chicago - St. Louis), Illini & Saluki (Chicago - Carbondale) and Illinois Zephyr & Carl Sandburg (Chicago - Quincy).
  • Indiana: Hoosier State (Chicago - Indianapolis).
  • 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).
  • Wisconsin: Hiawatha Service (Milwaukee - Chicago), (with Illinois).

South

North Carolina: Carolinian (Charlotte - Raleigh - Washington) and Piedmont service (Raleigh - Charlotte).

Northwest

  • Oregon: Amtrak Cascades (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, BC), (with Washington).
  • Washington: Amtrak Cascades (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, BC), (with Oregon).

West

  • Oklahoma: Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City - Fort Worth), (with Texas).
  • Texas: Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City - Fort Worth), (with Oklahoma).

California

California: Capitol Corridor (San Jose - Sacramento - Auburn), managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority; Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo - Los Angeles - San Diego), managed by the LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority; and San Joaquins (Sacramento/Oakland - Bakersfield), managed by the San Joaquins Joint Powers Authority. California also supports an extensive system of connecting Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach routes.

Ridership and Ongoing Projects

  • Five state-supported routes had ridership that topped one million in FY 2016:
    • Pacific Surfliner (San Diego - Los Angeles - San Luis Obispo): 2,924,117
    • Capitol Corridor (San Jose - Oakland - Sacramento - Auburn): 1,560,814
    • Empire Service (New York - Albany - Buffalo - Niagara Falls - Toronto): 1,510,285
    • Keystone Service (Harrisburg - Philadelphia - New York City): 1,467,216
    • San Joaquins (Oakland/Sacramento - Bakersfield): 1,122,301
  • Four other state-supported services had ridership in excess of a half-million customers in FY 2016:
    • Hiawatha Service (Chicago - Milwaukee): 807,720
    • Amtrak Cascades (Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver, BC): 792,481
    • Lincoln Service (Chicago - St. Louis): 548,955
    • Downeaster (Boston - Portland - Brunswick): 500,081
  • Amtrak-operated state-owned equipment includes 121 railroad passenger cars, 23 locomotives. Amtrak Cascades service operates with seven trainsets with cars owned by Amtrak and the states of Oregon and Washington. Amtrak is awaiting the delivery of new state-owned equipment, including 63 Charger Locomotives currently on order.
  • In December 2012, 135 miles of right-of-way between Kalamazoo and Dearborn were purchased by the state of Michigan. It is operated and maintained, and in the future will be fully dispatched by Amtrak. Amtrak and the state of Michigan are jointly improving the infrastructure as an integral part of our Michigan District (which also includes the Amtrak-owned 95.6-mile segment of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track from Porter, IN, to Kalamazoo). Much of this state-owned track is being upgraded for service at speeds of up to 110 mph (177 kph).
  • Amtrak and the states of Michigan and Illinois are partners to reduce travel times by increasing maximum train speeds up to 110 mph (177 kph) wherever possible on the Chicago - Detroit and Chicago - St. Louis corridors. Currently, Amtrak trains can reach speeds up to 110 mph (177 kph) on a 96-mile portion of the Chicago - Detroit corridor in Michigan and Indiana, as well as on a 12-mile portion of the Chicago - St. Louis corridor. As additional track and signal work is completed, more segments on both corridors will experience speed increases. This will ultimately result in trip time reductions of 30 minutes on the Chicago - Detroit corridor, and nearly an hour between Chicago and St. Louis.

Long-Distance Services

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.
  • In FY 2015, all long-distance routes combined carried 4.5 million passengers.
  • 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.

Contract Commuter Service

Amtrak is one of the largest operators of contract commuter services in North America; 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 (MBTA): 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
    • Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
    • Delaware Department of Transportation (DELDOT) (operated by SEPTA)
    • Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) (operated by MBTA)
    • Virginia Railway Express (VRE)
    • 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 Amtrak-owned NEC facilities by commuter trains. These agencies or states also provide other funding on the NEC, 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 NEC in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York.

Amtrak Trains and Equipment

  • Amtrak-owned, active equipment includes 20 Acela Express high-speed trainsets, two Cascades Service trainsets, 1,367 passenger cars including Amfleet, Superliner, Viewliner and other types, 403 locomotives, 80 Auto Train vehicle carriers and 68 baggage cars. Amtrak continues to receive new Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) electric locomotives and new national network, single level cars that are part of a 130 car order.
  • In 2016, Amtrak will announce a contract to acquire the most technologically advanced high-speed trainsets ever to operate in North America for the next generation of Acela Express service. There will be 40 percent more trainsets and each will have 40 percent more seats than those currently in use.
  • 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.
  • Since the beginning, even-numbered trains have traveled north and east. Odd-numbered trains travel south and west. Among the exceptions are Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains, which use the opposite numbering system inherited from the Santa Fe Railway, some Empire Service trains and the Downeaster trains between Brunswick, ME, and Boston.

Positive Train Control

  • Amtrak is a leader in the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC), a safety technology designed to match train speed to track conditions for improved safety. PTC provides an added layer of safety on top of the cab signal and Automatic Train Control safety systems already in place.
    • In December 2015, Amtrak activated PTC on track between New York and Washington, DC, completing installation on most Amtrak-owned infrastructure on the NEC spine. PTC has been installed between Boston and New Haven since 2000. The only exceptions are seven miles, all of which are located in or adjacent to terminal areas where trains move slower and Automatic Train Control systems are in service.
    • Amtrak is scheduled to activate PTC on the 104.2-mile Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia - Harrisburg) in February 2016.
    • Since 2002, PTC has been installed and operating along the 95.6 miles of track Amtrak owns in Michigan and Indiana (Porter, IN - Kalamazoo, MI).
    • Amtrak is also working on installation of PTC on other lines, including the 60.5-mile Springfield line (New Haven, CT - Springfield, MA); the leased, 94-mile Hudson line (Poughkeepsie, NY - Hoffmans, NY (near Schenectady)); the 135-mile segment of track owned by the state of Michigan between Dearborn and Kalamazoo; and the Chicago Union Station terminal areas.
    • Most of the national network that Amtrak operates over is owned by other railroads commonly referred to as "host railroads." Host railroads are responsible for PTC installation on their infrastructure. Amtrak has installed PTC on its locomotives that operate over host railroads.

Passenger Amenities

  • Following the expansion of complimentary AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi to the Cardinal, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited and Silver Service trains in early 2016, trains carrying 91 percent of all Amtrak passengers will offer Wi-Fi connections. Amtrak is still working to provide Wi-Fi service to the remainder of the national network routes.
  • In collaboration with passengers and cycling advocates, Amtrak has increased the number of trains that offer walk-up/walk-on bike service to also include the Capitol Limited, Carolinian, Heartland Flyer, Crescent and Silver Service trains. Get more details and the latest information about our Bikes-on-Trains program.
  • Amtrak now offers passengers on Northeast Regional trains, as well as national network and select state-supported trains, the convenience of carrying small cats or dogs onboard. Get more details and the latest information about our Pets-on-Trains program.
  • Amtrak is also available on the webFacebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, the official Amtrak blog, and the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak History, Great American Stations sites.

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 these services at a net loss of millions of dollars for many years. Operations began on May 1, 1971.
  • 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.