Sustainability Report FY 2018

Amtrak is America’s leading passenger rail transportation provider, safely carrying more than 30 million customers to more than 500 destinations annually across the United States and Canada. We believe operating an environmentally efficient, safe, and fiscally responsible business is essential to our future growth and have committed to operating with superior environmental performance and incorporating sustainability into decisions and practices.

Increasingly, our stakeholders are recognizing what we already know, that traveling by rail is more energy efficient than any other mode. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also agrees: Rail travel is one of the best ways for the transportation sector to reduce emissions now and into the future.
Read more in the Executive Summary

Executive Summary

Sustainability at Amtrak isn’t new – we incorporate environmental, financial and social considerations into our decision making, being mindful of the needs of our organization and stakeholders now and in the future. We’ve been setting environmental goals since 2010 and we’ve publicly reported progress on our goals, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, since 2013. You can read all our previous reports on our website at Amtrak.com/Sustainability.

In Fiscal Year 2018, we made significant progress in sustainability. We achieved our GHG emissions reduction goal and we purchased 200% more carbon-free energy than in FY17 from sources including nuclear, hydropower, and wind. We awarded a contract to update our fleet with a substantial number of higher efficiency locomotives. We received a B score from CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) in the Transport Services sector, with high marks in the emissions, governance and risk management categories. Compared to other transport companies, Amtrak’s response rated higher than both the sector average and the North American regional average. This has also been a year where sustainability has become more routinely incorporated into our daily business practices. Employees around the company helped achieve Amtrak’s annual sustainability goals of increased recycling, reduced energy usage, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Amtrak has elevated the visibility of and focus on sustainability; such as the Acela refresh project, fleet procurement specifications, and core values in company governance documents. For example, we:

  • Incorporated sustainability into our corporate Strategic Plan
  • Reissued the company’s Environmental Policy and Sustainability Policy
  • Presented on these topics to the Board of Directors
We recognize that an important part of sustainability is maintaining strong business performance. Our stakeholders expect us to continually improve in safety, customer satisfaction and financial performance. We are making significant advances in all three core areas. In safety, we are implementing our Safety Management System and Positive Train Control (PTC) across our network. In customer satisfaction, we are giving our passengers a more comfortable and modern travel experience. And in financial performance, we are committed to reducing our net operating loss and have charted a path to breakeven. We’re excited about the year ahead, and we invite you to stay connected with us through our updates on our social channels, in press releases, and on Amtrak.com/Sustainability.

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Q&A with Stephen Gardner,

Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating & Commercial Officer

We have a lot of people who are interested in Amtrak’s sustainability performance – and we recognize they want to consume this content in different ways. Some people want quick, short “highlight” stories that are refreshed and updated throughout the year, with lots of interactive graphics and photos. These people want to engage with us throughout the year. And other people just want to hear from us once – with a single, definitive report that captures everything we did in 2018. Our approach this year is to create a hybrid experience where you can find a combination of both – through multiple channels. We’re excited about the changes, and we hope you are, too. Let us know what you think. You can email us at AmtrakSustains@Amtrak.com.


First, we incorporated several sustainability goals into the company-wide 5-year strategic plan and the Annual Operating Plan to make sure employees are focused on these goals at all levels. Then, President and CEO Richard Anderson signed the updated Environmental Policy and Sustainability Policy. These policies form the foundation of the Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS), which helps us proactively identify, evaluate, and mitigate environmental and sustainability risks and impacts throughout the Amtrak system and set goals for continual improvement. Gaining this level of support and visibility helps drive innovation and creative solutions to meet our corporate goals.


Better customer service! Our fleet is the foundation of Amtrak's service and the future of this company. Our vision is to double Amtrak ridership by 2040. To accomplish this, we need to give our customers a great travel experience. Our customers have options on how to travel. If we want them to choose Amtrak, we need to provide a service that is modern, comfortable, efficient and reliable. To deliver this, we need new fleet and reliable infrastructure. Our most significant capital investment in FY 2018 is the purchase of a new locomotive fleet. An important selection criterion for these 75 new locomotives was sustainability. They’re designed to meet EPA’s stringent Tier 4 standards, which means they’ll have significantly lower emissions of particulate matter (soot) and nitrogen oxides than our current fleet. They are designed to be 10% more fuel efficient, which will help us reduce both our operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. These units will go into passenger service the summer of 2021.

We are driving toward a superior customer experience across our system, which is why we invested $20 million in our Northeast Corridor (NEC) trains to refresh 450+ Amfleet I and all Acela car interiors. Customers will increasingly see more cars refreshed with upgraded bathrooms, carpet, and new seats across more of our fleet through 2020.

Our goal is to become America’s safest passenger railroad. We are working hard on multiple fronts to achieve that goal, including installing modern train control technologies called Positive Train Control (PTC) systems that can aid in preventing accidents. While PTC isn’t visible to our customers, it’s essential to providing continued safe Amtrak operations and nearly all Amtrak-owned or controlled track and more than 16,000 miles of host railroad-controlled track had PTC in operation January 1, 2019. Underpinning our use of this new technology is our development and execution of an industry-leading Safety Management System (SMS). An SMS is an organization-wide comprehensive and preventative approach to managing safety. It will establish safety as an integral element in all operational business functions. In November of 2018, in advance of any regulation, Amtrak was the first U.S. passenger railroad to submit a Safety System Program Plan to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).


My vision is that sustainability becomes a part of Amtrak's culture. This past year, I’ve seen it incorporated into future plans like our master development planning and fleet specifications, the ongoing work of Amtrak’s Climate Change committee, and in the ways we manage our materials at the end of their useful life. We have teams across the company advancing new ideas and integrating sustainability into their design standards and daily business practices. There’s a visible shift happening and it’s exciting to see. Our job as leaders of Amtrak is to best position this company to exceed our environmental commitments and to lead the industry by example with a highly skilled workforce and innovative solutions from partnerships across our operations.

Amtrak Across America: Vital to 280+ Million Travelers a Year

At the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), we work with our partners to help move people, the economy, and the nation forward. Our mission, as defined by the U.S. Congress through the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, is to “provide efficient and effective intercity passenger rail mobility consisting of high-quality service that is trip-time competitive with other intercity travel options.” Amtrak operates a network of intercity passenger rail services spanning 46 states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces.

Amtrak is a federally chartered corporation, operating as a for-profit company, with the federal government as majority stockholder. Members of the Amtrak Board of Directors are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The company was created by an act of Congress in 1970 to take control of the majority of the nation’s intercity passenger rail services. We have been helping people get places since daily operations began in May 1971. Taking into account Amtrak’s three business lines, shared intermodal stations and support provided to 14 commuter services from coast to coast, we impact more than 280 million travelers a year.

Northeast Corridor

Northeast Corridor (NEC) Services

Acela Express and Northeast Regional services connect Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Boston over the 457-mile NEC. The NEC, with various segments owned by Amtrak and the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, is the busiest railroad in North America with about 2,200 Amtrak, commuter, and freight trains operating over some portion of the Washington-Boston route daily.

FY2018 Highlights

  • Ridership: 12.1 million (up 0.8% year-over-year)
  • 38% of total ridership (56% of total revenue)
  • Nine commuter rail services operate on the NEC, and approximately 820,000 Amtrak and commuter trips are taken on the rail line every weekday, removing those drivers from highways and relieving urban congestion

National Network

State Supported Services

Amtrak receives funding from 18 states through 21 agencies to operate 29 short-distance intercity routes (less than 750 miles). These routes serve the Northeast, Midwest, South, Northwest, and West.

FY2018 Highlights

  • 15.1 million riders (up 0.4% year-over-year)
  • 48% of total ridership (23% of total revenue)
  • Five routes with more than one million riders: Pacific Surfliner (CA), Capitol Corridor (CA), Keystone Service (NY, NJ, PA), Empire Service (IL to OR), and San Joaquins (CA)

Long Distance Services

Our 15 Long Distance routes (over 750 miles) provide the only rail service at nearly half of Amtrak’s 500+ stations and are the only Amtrak trains in 23 of the 46 states in the network.

FY2018 Highlights

  • 4.5 million riders (down 3.9% year-over-year)
  • 14% of total ridership (21% of total revenue)
  • 18% of customers travel to and/or from a rural station; Amtrak offers the only intercity passenger transportation service in an increasing number of communities that lack intercity bus and airline service

Contract Commuter Services

Amtrak is one of the largest operators of contract commuter services in North America—providing services and/or track access for 14 commuter agencies. Connecting urban centers alleviates highway congestion, which decreases emissions caused by motor vehicles. It also helps support state initiatives to expand rail service.


Highlight Stories

Long Distance

State Supported

Northeast Corridor

Suspended Service

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Want to learn more? Visit Amtrak Sustainability.