Amtrak: 50 Years of Leading the Way
For 50 years, Amtrak has made passenger rail service accessible to communities all across America—both large and small. Take a look at our five decades of investments in innovation, safety, service, sustainability and to the communities we serve. Then see what we are doing to fulfill our commitment to safe, reliable and state-of-the-art rail service in the 21st century.
1980s - Amtrak’s commitment to modernization and innovation results in new routes, station improvements and enhanced safety measures.
Amtrak opens its BWI Rail Station, America's first intercity air-rail-ground transportation connection which offers energy-conserving connections between various modes of public transportation, including rail, air and bus lines.
With financial support from Pennsylvania, the new Pennsylvanian route debuts, providing service between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and later to New York City.
The Amtrak fleet includes 1,436 new or rebuilt all-electric passenger cars and a fuel-efficient locomotive fleet, with an average age of four years. Conversion to an all-electric fleet reduces equipment malfunctions and resulting delays by 31 percent.
Introduces Arrow, Amtrak's new nationwide ticketing and reservation computer system for faster, comprehensive ticketing services.
Amtrak is granted a patent for its test signal generator that enables testing of railroad car brake controllers.
The newly named California Zephyr between Chicago and the San Francisco area is rerouted to take passengers along the scenic Colorado River.
Amtrak begins tri-weekly Auto Train service from Virginia to Florida, which becomes so popular, the service is soon expanded to daily operations.
In conjunction with the State of Michigan, Amtrak starts the Pere Marquette service between Chicago and Grand Rapids.
Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road agree to share in modernizing New York Penn Station, including a state-of-the-art train control system and extensive improvements to all passenger facilities.
New bi-level Superliners hit the rails for several of Amtrak’s western routes. These cars feature upper level dining rooms, Sightseer lounge cars with movies and wrap-around windows for viewing, and sleeping car rooms with showers.
Amtrak becomes the first non-airline member of the Airline Reporting Corporation, making it easier for more than 27,000 travel agencies to process Amtrak ticket sales.
Amtrak begins modifying electrical equipment on Amfleet cars so that trains can operate in "push-pull" service for increased fuel efficiency and improved operational safety.
Amtrak completes its first Viewliner prototype. These cars measure 85 feet long and 14 feet high and offer wide views of the passing landscape through two rows of windows.
Unveils new "Self ServeTicketing" machines at heavily-trafficked stations such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Los Angeles.
A Centralized Electrification & Traffic Control (CETC) system provides state-of-the-art computer technology to control train routing. This replaces the old model of issuing instructions to local control towers.
Following a three year, $160 million restoration, Washington Union Station reopens, showcasing the structure’s magnificent historical architecture while offering modern amenities, including retail and dining for travelers and local residents.
Amtrak carries more passengers between Washington, D.C. and New York than all of the airlines combined.
Amtrak purchases 104 Horizon cars from Bombardier, Inc., to meet the growing demands of its short-distance routes.
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