Sustainability Report FY 2019

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

It’s incredible to see how quickly business can change in response to a public health, safety or environmental threat. It’s equally incredible to see how rapidly businesses innovate and activate solutions that may have merely been an idea before becoming the new way to do business in an altered state of commerce. When the world stopped due to the spread of the coronavirus, Amtrak kept moving, providing an essential service to those who needed it most.

At Amtrak, we accepted cashless payments, offered Flexible Dining service on all long-distance routes, limited ticket sales to 50% of train’s seat capacity on reserved services, and displayed signage at our busiest stations to indicate safe distances in high traffic areas, just to name a few. Outside of onboard services, we set up nearly 2,000 employees in remote work environments, hosted weekly meditation calls for employees, and increased cleaning protocols to keep our employees and customer safe. Fewer trains resulted in a surplus of food and supplies. We donated extra food to shelters in locations around the country and excess blankets to a military-run hospital in New York City to help those in need during this unprecedented time. Across the board, we adapted, seemingly overnight.

Behind these adaptations to market demands and disruptions were the foundation of our workforce, our employees. Amtrak’s employees were committed to emerging from this historic public health crisis as a stronger and more resilient company given the lessons we have learned. In fact, what we experienced across all business functions can be applied in the development of Amtrak’s sustainability and climate resilience plans.

A lot of great work was completed in fiscal year 2019 (FY19). It was Amtrak’s strongest year financially and boasted record ridership with 32.5 million trips – for the third year in a row. The momentum from FY19 continued into FY20 through ongoing investments in new fuel-efficient equipment, preparing to receive the new Acela trainsets, and executing nearly $700 M in state of good repair infrastructure projects – like those highlighted below. Through FY19, we achieved all four corporate sustainability goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, diesel fuel and electricity, and increased recycling through special projects and a renewed focus on communicating best practices. Looking into FY20, we expect challenges with meeting several of our sustainability goals due to precipitous decline in service but intend to continue advancing work in climate adaptation and resilience.

As we reflect on accomplishments from last year, we see numerous examples of collaborative sustainability projects resulting in reduced operating expenses, stewardship of our natural resources, and increased accessibility for customers.

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The performance scorecard is a way for Amtrak to communicate how we’re doing year over year across several efforts in the company. The following metrics include our three target-specific sustainability goals and a range of other focus areas. We believe it’s important for you to see the numbers behind each commitment.

Q&A with Tracie Winbigler,

Chief Financial Officer

The Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures states in its July 2017 report, “One of the most significant, and perhaps most misunderstood, risks that organizations face today relates to climate change.” As the senior executive overseeing Amtrak’s capital investments and financial strategies, we sat down with Tracie Winbigler, CFO, to understand her vision of how smart investments in assets and preparedness planning will strengthen Amtrak’s position as the most energy efficient travel company, lessen our contribution to global emissions, and bolster our resilience against environmental stressors.

Amtrak plays many important roles. We are a key stakeholder in the global emissions reduction effort and are the most sustainable option to travel between New York and Washington, D.C., Los Angeles to San Diego, and every other short-range travel route. Traveling on our electrified system in the northeast corridor emits 83% less greenhouse gas than driving and up to 73% less than flying. Across our national system, Amtrak is 47% more energy efficient than driving and one third more efficient than flying, which means we are fundamentally the better choice for travelers to reduce their impact on the environment. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified rail as the key transportation solution to drive down global emissions by getting people out of cars and planes and onto trains. Amtrak’s interstate rail system is a critical part of that solution. Not only did we move more than 32+ million customers (a historic record!), but we are directly supporting our customers’ and corporate clients’ low carbon commitments to travel with a smaller footprint.

In our own operations, we’ve proudly reduced company greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 20% since 2010 and lowered our emissions by 4% in FY19 (another company record). We need to do our part to reduce the impact of transportation emissions on climate change, so we are working to set a longer-term goal to decrease emissions substantially within the next decade. We know there’s room to improve, which is why we’re expanding the ways Amtrak will continually reduce our GHG emissions. We’re buying more low-carbon electricity, operating more efficient equipment, and reducing energy consumption in our stations, offices, and maintenance shops. Over the last 24 months we’ve invested extensively to begin replacing our diesel locomotive fleet with units that are more fuel efficient, and prepared for the new Acela fleet which is 40% more energy efficient than the original Acela train sets.


Amtrak voluntarily reports to CDP, the global carbon disclosure organization, on progress to reduce our carbon footprint and implement climate resilience strategies. We received a B from CDP for 2019 in the Transport Services sector, placing us in the “management” category among freight and passenger rail and aviation companies, because we demonstrate our ability to “take coordinated action on climate issues” across various business functions. Because we have consistently identified the various ways Amtrak embeds climate considerations within our governance structure, emissions target setting, risk evaluation, and strategic planning, we have a foundation of salient information from which to draw for company-wide resilience planning efforts.

Completing the questionnaire helped teams across Amtrak incorporate climate considerations into the company’s operations, funding, planning, and communications – both internally and externally. Each year, we deliver to Congress five-year planning documents that emphasize climate concerns and rail’s inherent environmental advantages. We leverage this opportunity to suggest future capital investments and policies that will improve the resilience and sustainability of our network. Environmental risks and climate impacts are included in this package because we are already seeing the impacts from changing conditions on company operations and service. It is critical that our State, regional, and Congressional partners understand the risks that we must work together to manage.

Within the guiding strategies of the company, executive leadership included a new corporate goal in the FY20 annual operating plan, “develop and implement a climate resilience strategic plan.” Since 2015, we’ve completed several climate-related projects, including vulnerability assessments, and developed proprietary inundation maps to anticipate future conditions. Having a strategic resiliency plan provides direction and focus to develop one comprehensive plan to evaluate, identify, and prioritize areas where we should take immediate action. We have already begun amending business practices and design standards to protect our rail assets and lessen the disruption to Amtrak’s customers and employees from acute events and in anticipation of long-term climate shifts.


We need to operate a safe, clean, modern, and efficient business to be relevant for the future. We are doing that in several ways, including making continued improvements to our stations to offer increased accessibility and mobility for customers; using technology to inform decisions for capital planning and project prioritization; using geographic information system (GIS) mapping tools to assess future conditions surrounding Amtrak assets; evaluating growing markets and demographic trends to understand our next generation of customers; and designing the catenary system (which supplies our trains with electric power) to withstand greater wind speeds and more extreme temperatures.

We’re also talking about sustainability and the future of Amtrak, especially in the executive team. Nearly every employee town hall meeting and quarterly business update includes at least one energy, recycling, or reputational risk question from an employee to Amtrak leadership. Senior management tracks our performance against corporate sustainability goals on a quarterly basis which helps us stay focused on efforts to meet our commitments. Every year, sustainability and climate resilience work expands to encompass new projects, more departments, and more ambitious commitments to ensure long-term operations. We’re attracting talent with experience in these areas, and our current employees are stepping up to the challenge to position Amtrak for a successful future. Amtrak’s ability to consistently achieve sustainability goals prove our dedication to continuous progress.


Our Values

Our Amtrak values are an expression of our principles and beliefs. They guide everything we do – and ultimately, define us as a company.

We want Amtrak to be a place where our employees recognize, appreciate and live our values. When this connection is made, we make Amtrak a great place to work – and we create a powerful and engaged team capable of achieving any goal. With this in mind, we recently spoke to more than 1,000 employees through focus groups across the company. We collected their insight on which values were most important to them. These conversations affirmed much of what we already believe and know to be true. Amtrak is full of great people who share many of the same qualities. We have a passion for service, we take great pride in our work, we believe in teamwork, and we have a strong sense of commitment to each other and our customers.

Together, these qualities are the core of our three Amtrak values. These values are simple, memorable, and meaningful:

Do the Right Thing. This value, central to everything we do, starts with always being safe – for ourselves, our co-workers and our customers. It means that we act with integrity and do everything we can to protect our environment. We owe it to future generations to reduce waste and shrink our carbon footprint.

Put Customers First. Taking care of our customers is the essence of our mandate from Congress – and it is how we ensure our continued livelihoods with this company. Our team has a strong sense of service today. Our challenge is that we must continually act upon it.

Excel Together. Focusing on teamwork and performance, we must work toward the same goals while learning from each other. Our customers desire modern solutions and today’s business environment requires speed and simplicity. By excelling together, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

Amtrak Across America: Vital to 348+ 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’ve been helping people get places since daily operations began in May 1971. Taking into account Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, State Supported and Long Distance service lines, shared intermodal stations, and infrastructure access and services provided to 11 state and regional authorities for commuter services from coast to coast, we impact more than 348 million travelers a year.

Northeast Corridor

Northeast Corridor (NEC) Services

Acela and Northeast Regional services connect Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston over the 457-mile NEC. The NEC, the majority of which is owned by Amtrak with smaller segments owned by 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.

FY2019 Highlights

Ridership: 12.5 million (up 3.3% year-over-year)

The NEC represents 38.5% of Amtrak's total ridership (56% of total revenue)

With eight commuter railroads operating on the NEC, and approximately 820,000 Amtrak and commuter trips taken every weekday, we are removing drivers from highways, relieving urban congestion and improving air quality.

National Network

State Supported Services

In FY2019, Amtrak received funding from 17 states through 20 agencies to operate 28 short-distance intercity routes (less than 750 miles). These routes serve the Northeast, Midwest, South, Northwest, and West.

FY2019 Highlights

  • 15.4 million riders (up 2.4% year-over-year)
  • 47.5% of total ridership (23% of total revenue)
  • Five routes with more than one million riders: Pacific Surfliner (CA), Capitol Corridor (CA), Empire Service/Maple Leaf (NY), Keystone Service (PA), 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.

FY2019 Highlights

  • 4.6 million riders (up 0.9% year-over-year)
  • 14% of total ridership (21% of total revenue)

Contract Commuter Services

Amtrak is one of the largest operators of contract commuter services in North America–providing services and/or infrastructure access to 11 state and regional authorities. Connecting urban centers alleviates highway congestion, which decreases emissions caused by motor vehicles. It also helps support state initiatives to expand rail service and improve air quality.


Highlight Stories

Long Distance

State Supported

Northeast Corridor

Suspended Service

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Want to learn more? Visit Amtrak Sustainability.