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National Railroad Passenger Corporation

legal form Corporation
founding 1971
Seat Washington, DC
Number of employees 20,000 (2014/15)
sales 3,236,000,000 US dollars (2013/14)
Branch traffic

Train frequency of the Amtrak lines
Washington Union Station, the headquarters of Amtrak

The American company National Railroad Passenger Corporation has been operating the majority of long-distance rail passenger transport within the USA under the brand name Amtrak since 1971 .


The 9,385,694 common shares of National Railroad Passenger Corporation are owned by Class 1 railroad companies BNSF Railway (35%), Canadian National Railway (5%), Canadian Pacific Railway (7%) and 53% by Carl Lindner , owner the American Financial Group (successor company to Penn Central ). In return for subsidies granted, the US government holds all of the rail company's preferred shares . By law of the Congress, the voting rights and the repayment obligation of the preference shares were removed. The ordinary shareholders thus have nominal control over the company; on the other hand, they have no longer had a seat on the director's board by law since 1981 and a shareholders' meeting has not yet been held.

In 1997, Amtrak received an order to buy back the common stock at a "fair market price" by October 1, 2012. However, no agreement was reached on this price. A lawsuit between Amtrak, who had offered 3 cents a share, and Carl Lindner, who demanded $ 52 million plus interest and compensation for "damage," was ruled in 2013 in Amtrak's favor. However, there was no share buyback.



Speed train Acela Express
Amtrak train station in Culpeper, Virginia
Amtrak train at Sacramento Station (1995)

As early as the 1930s, the motorization of large sections of the population began to decrease the demand for passenger trains, but most people still traveled by train. For the major railway companies , this was still the golden age. The Second World War gave the railways a kind of reprieve because the trains were necessary for the transportation of troops and war material . The simultaneous emergence of the state-financed motorway system ( Interstate Highway System , from 1956) and civil aviation in the post-war period limited the railways' opportunities for further development.

After the number of passengers had dropped dramatically in the 1950s, many passenger trains were only operated in the 1960s because the railway companies were obliged to do so. The quality of the service had deteriorated significantly. Suddenly the trains and the stations were no longer romantic or elegant, but worn out and dirty; the offers and additional services such as porters, hot, freshly cooked food, silver cutlery, etc. had been cut. In addition, the US Post withdrew its services from the passenger trains, which brought the companies further revenue losses. Often the mail wagons made up half of the earnings of a passenger train. Most of the railway companies now wanted to part with passenger transport.

In 1967, interested travelers formed an advocacy group , the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), to fight for the continued existence of passenger trains. The pursuit of the NARP was initially prevented, as the Democrats opposed subsidies for the railroad companies, but the conservative Republicans stuck to their resistance to any nationalization of railroad companies. However, no one in the government wanted to be responsible for the apparently inevitable end of the trains: most politicians viewed this move as political suicide.

On October 30, 1970, then- US President Richard Nixon signed the law that created the National Railroad Passenger Corporation .

The beginning

The Amtrak logo from 1971 to 2000

The new semi-public company was given the catchy name "Amtrak". At the time, the advisers to President Nixon and other observers assumed that Amtrak would somehow go away the problem of subsidizing passenger trains. Within a few years, the number of passenger trains should simply decrease.

20 railroad companies joined the Amtrak. The companies had to pay the annual shortfall from long-distance passenger transport on their railways as the entry price. For this purpose, they were exempted from the obligation to carry out long-distance passenger transport and could concentrate on the more lucrative freight transport.

Five companies continued to operate their own passenger trains, but in the following years by 1983 at the latest also gave up their passenger services or ceded them to Amtrak. The Amtrak took over the no longer needed locomotives and many cars from the predecessor companies. That brought a lot of problems at the beginning.

Four companies could not use the granted tax credits and received shares in the company (9,385,694 shares at 10 dollars):

The following companies transferred their passenger traffic to Amtrak:

However, the following companies initially continued to operate their trains on their own account:

  • Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (Rock Island) (Passenger traffic was discontinued at the end of 1978. In 1980/81 Amtrak then operated the Prairie Marksman to Peoria as a replacement , but not on Rock Island tracks.)
  • Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (The Rio Grande Zephyr was taken over by Amtrak in 1983 as a section of the California Zephyr .)
  • Georgia Railroad (Passenger service ceased in 1983.)
  • Reading Company (Long-distance transport was discontinued before Amtrak was founded, local transport was later taken over by regional operators.)
  • Southern Railway (The operations of the Southern Crescent were taken over by Amtrak as the Crescent in 1979. )

Amtrak traffic began on May 1, 1971 in all major traffic corridors. But of 220 train pairs nationwide, only 84 remained. On the former Water Level Route between New York, Ohio and Chicago , regular traffic did not begin until July 12, 1971.

On the route Chicago - Cincinnati - Newport News and Washington, two trains were combined into a train pair on July 12, 1971. Until then, you had to change trains in Cincinnati.

The Coast Starlight train was given this name on November 14, 1971 when it ran as a continuous night train from San Diego to Seattle . On the same day, Amtrak's own train numbers were introduced throughout the system and the train numbers of the original operators that were still in use until then were abandoned. This was necessary because some train numbers were assigned multiple times. In the first Amtrak timetable from May 1, 1971, there were six trains with the number 1. The system of train numbers introduced at the time has essentially been in place to this day. It went:

Amtrak trains from November 14, 1971 (the first train number stands for the direction indicated, the second for the opposite direction)
Train numbers Name of the train route Remarks
1/2 Sunset Limited New Orleans - Houston - El Paso - Phoenix - Los Angeles three times per week
3/4 Super Chief-El Capitán Chicago - Kansas City (Missouri) - La Junta - Albuquerque - Flagstaff - Los Angeles
5/6 to Denver: Denver Zephyr
to Oakland: City of San Francisco
Chicago - Omaha - Cheyenne - Denver - Ogden - Oakland Denver - Oakland three times a week
7/8 Empire Builder Chicago - Milwaukee - Minneapolis - Grand Forks - Glacier Park - Spokane - Seattle
9/10 to Seattle: North Coast Hiawatha
to Minneapolis: Twin Cities Hiawatha
Chicago - Milwaukee - Minneapolis - Bismarck - Billings - Spokane (and further on with train 7/8 to Seattle) Minneapolis - Seattle three times a week
11/14 Coast Starlight Seattle - Portland (Oregon) - Oakland - Santa Barbara - Los Angeles - San Diego three times per week
12/13 Coast Daylight Oakland - Santa Barbara - Los Angeles - San Diego on days when train 11/14 does not run
15/16 Texas Chief Chicago - Kansas City (Missouri) - Oklahoma City - Fort Worth - Houston
30/31 National Limited Kansas City (Missouri) - St. Louis - Indianapolis - Pittsburgh - Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) - Washington in Harrisburg handover / takeover of wagons from / to trains 40/41 on the routes Kansas City - New York and Chicago - Washington
40/41 Broadway Limited Chicago - Lima (Ohio) - Pittsburgh - Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) - Philadelphia - New York City in Harrisburg handover / takeover of wagons from / to trains 30/31 on the routes Kansas City - New York and Chicago - Washington
42/43 Keystone Pittsburgh - Harrisburg - Philadelphia - New York City
50/51 Turn 50: George Washington
Turn 51: James Whitcomb Riley
Chicago - Indianapolis - Cincinnati - Charleston (West Virginia) - Charlottesville - Newport News or… - Washington - Philadelphia - New York City - New Haven CT - Providence RI - Boston MA Wing in Charlottesville
52/53 Floridian Chicago - Indianapolis - Louisville KY - Nashville TN - Birmingham AL - Jacksonville FL - Orlando FL - Miami FL or ... - St. Petersburg Wing in Orlando
58/59 Panama Limited New Orleans LA - Jackson MS - Memphis TN - Fulton KY - Carbondale IL - Chicago
60/61 Lake Shore Limited Chicago - Toledo - Cleveland - Buffalo - Albany - Rensselaer - New York City on January 16, 1972 provisionally suspended
70-75 Buffalo - Albany-Rensselaer - New York City three pairs of trains
81/82 Silver Star New York City - Philadelphia - Washington - Richmond (Virginia) - Raleigh (North Carolina) - Savannah - Jacksonville (Florida) - Orlando - Miami or ... - St. Petersburg Wing in Orlando
83/84 Silver Meteor New York City - Philadelphia - Washington - Richmond - Savannah - Jacksonville - Miami
85/86 champion New York City - Philadelphia - Washington - Richmond - Charleston - Savannah - Jacksonville - Orlando - St. Petersburg
87/88 Florida Special New York City - Philadelphia - Washington - Richmond - Winter Haven - Miami Seasonal, December through April only, with no stops between Richmond and Winter Haven
100-135 Metroliner , Free State , Congressional , Night Cap (New Haven CT -) New York City - Philadelphia - Washington DC Mon – Fri 14 train pairs, Sat 12 train pairs, Sun 13 train pairs, to New Haven only one train pair during rush hour and on Sundays
140/145 Bay State Washington - Philadelphia - New York City - New Haven CT - Springfield MA - Boston MA
141/144 Connecticut Yankee Springfield MA - New Haven CT - New York City - Philadelphia - Washington DC
143/142 Charter Oak Springfield (Massachusetts) - New Haven - New York City - Philadelphia - Washington
150/151 Pull 150: Turbo Yankee Clipper
Pull 151: Turbo York Clipper
New York City - New Haven CT - Providence RI - Boston MA only Mon – Fri, operation with UAC TurboTrain
160-182 various (Washington - Philadelphia -) New York City - New Haven - Providence - Boston not all trains to Washington
195-199 Train 195/196: Mount Rainier
Train 199/198: Puget Sound
Seattle WA - Portland OR two pairs of trains
200-298 Philadelphia - New York City Mon – Fri nine train pairs, Sat seven train pairs, Sun five train pairs
301-304 Train 301/304: Prairie State
Train 303/302: Abraham Lincoln
Chicago - St. Louis MO two pairs of trains, in the train passage to Milwaukee WI
320-329 Milwaukee WI - Chicago IL five pairs of trains, two of them in transit to and from St. Louis MO
347/348 Illinois Zephyr Chicago - Princeton IL - West Quincy MO
360-363 Train 360/361: Wolverine
Train 362/363: St. Clair
Chicago - Battle Creek MI - Ann Arbor MI - Detroit MI two pairs of trains
390-395 Train 390/393: Illini
train 394/395: Campus
Champaign-Urbana IL - Chicago IL Two pairs of trains on Fridays, one pair of trains on Sundays
391/392 Shawnee Chicago - Champaign-Urbana IL - Carbondale IL
400-410 New Haven CT - Hartford CT - Springfield MA Mon – Fri five pairs of trains, Sat / Sun three pairs of trains, three or two pairs of trains between Hartford and Springfield, operated by diesel multiple units
600-619 Harrisburg PA - Philadelphia PA Mon – Fri nine train pairs, Sat five train pairs, Sun four train pairs
640-643 West Virginian Washington - Martinsburg WV - Oakland MD - Parkersburg WV Mon – Fri trains 640/641, Sat / Sun trains 642/643
680-687 Albany-Rensselaer NY - New York City four pairs of trains, from January 16, 1972 train numbers 380–387
775-778 San Diegan San Diego CA - Los Angeles CA two pairs of trains

On December 17, 1971, the travel times of the Silver Star were adjusted so that the Floridian from Chicago could travel with this train from Jacksonville to St. Petersburg or Miami in combination.

Further development

Amtrak launched its first new train connection with the Montrealer from Washington to Montréal on September 29, 1972 over the tracks of the Boston and Maine Railroad, where no passenger trains had been used since 1966. In 1979 this night train was abandoned and replaced by a day train called the Adirondack via Albany .

The now bankrupt Rock Island ceased operations with the Peoria Rocket between Chicago and Peoria on December 31, 1978.

The Southern Railway gave their train Crescent Limited on February 1, 1979 from Amtrak. The Rio Grande no longer drove the Rio Grande Zephyr train from April 25, 1983. The previous Amtrak train San Francisco Zephyr changed its name to California Zephyr . This train now took the route of the Rio Grande, which led directly through the Rockies instead of the Union Pacific tracks to the north.

The U.S.'s last private long-distance train, a Georgia Railroad mixed train from Atlanta to Augusta, Georgia, was discontinued on May 5, 1983. The Reading Company's previous service between Philadelphia and Newark Penn Station also ended in 1983.

To date, all of the major American railways, except Amtrak, are private companies. Still, public and political support for Amtrak remained. Not only the US government, but also the various states subsidized Amtrak, with the result that the company has survived to this day.

Westbound Cardinal

However, the ongoing subsidization of passenger transport by rail met with violent opposition from the conservatives. They called for the government to suspend Amtrak unless the company was able to operate profitably. Although Presidents Ronald Reagan , George Bush, and George W. Bush wanted to abolish Amtrak, the society still exists. The oil crisis of the 1970s made cars and planes more expensive and trains more attractive. After all, after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, many trains appeared safer than planes.

On June 28, 2002, the US government and the Company agreed terms for a $ 100 million bridging loan, preventing the Company from going bankrupt.

Amtrak today

Amtrak annual rider numbers

Amtrak serves more than 500 train stations in 46 states. In 2012, over 31.2 million passengers traveled with Amtrak, which is around 85,500 travelers a day. Around 300 trains run every day. Amtrak currently has more than 20,000 employees (as of 2018). The operating material includes 451 locomotives (104 of which are electric ); 1,935 passenger cars (including 159 sleeping cars , 860 coach class cars, 140 business class cars, 60 kitchen cars, 260 lounge / café / dinette cars and 78 dining cars ). The company operates a network of 35,810 kilometers, 1,199 kilometers of which are owned by Amtrak.

Amtrak has been in the media since the late 1990s, as there were repeated discussions in Congress about restricting or expanding passenger train traffic because of the high subsidies for Amtrak. Amtrak, which is publicly portrayed as a heavy burden on the national budget, achieved record revenues almost annually from 2005 to 2014 inclusive and had a cost recovery ratio of 93 percent in 2014. Expenditures for the expansion of the highway in the USA are covered much worse: In 2010, for example, only 45.7 percent of the costs were borne by its users. As a result of increasing passenger numbers since the beginning of the 21st century, the US government founded a national high-speed initiative in 2009 with the aim of reducing train travel times in larger urban regions in particular.

Within the USA, it is often cheaper to travel by plane , as the pressure of competition has so far benefited the customer. Many Americans only travel by train in the phases of bad weather fronts, when the jet aircraft have to remain on the ground, or during strikes by flight or ground personnel. Due to the national flight ban after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Amtrak trains were rushed for which they were hardly prepared, they were quickly overloaded, which gave their public image (poor comfort , confusing timetables) confirmed.

Between 1985 and 2002, approximately 21 million people drove Amtrak a year. This number has been growing rapidly since 2003. In 2007, the 25 million passenger mark was achieved for the first time, and in 2011 Amtrak was the first to have more than 30 million passengers. The number of passengers rose in the two following years as well, to 31.6 million passengers in the 2013 financial year.

Compared to the airplane, the train was also able to gain: For example, in 2000 on the route between New York and Washington DC 63 percent of travelers took the airplane and 37 percent took the train. The ratio changed by 2012 to a 24 percent share for air traffic and a 76 percent share for rail traffic.

The Trump cabinet had already announced in early 2017 that it would reduce federal grants for Amtrak. On May 24, 2017, more specific considerations became known that could lead to significant supply cuts.

Nevertheless, a new connection was opened on October 31, 2017. The Northeast Regional trains, which previously ended in Lynchburg (Virginia), have continued to Roanoke (Virginia) since that day.

On August 30, 2019, Amtrak also put two pairs of trains between Springfield and Greenfield into operation, which are funded by the state of Massachusetts for an initial two years.


Amtrak train no.59 crashed

In the railway accident at Big Bayou Canot on September 22, 1993, a train crashed into a tributary of the Mobile River in Alabama after a ship hit the bridge pier in heavy fog. 42 passengers and five train attendants died. 103 passengers were injured.

On March 15, 1999, there was a serious accident in Bourbonnais , Illinois when the Amtrak # 59 train struck a truck at a level crossing and derailed it . Eleven people died and 122 were injured.

On April 18, 2002, the auto train derailed in Crescent City , Florida en route to Lorton , Virginia . Four people were killed and 159 injured.

On May 12, 2015, Northeast Regional train 188 derailed in the Port Richmond railway accident on its way from Washington to New York in a curve due to excessive speed. Eight passengers were killed and over 200 injured.

In the DuPont railway accident on December 18, 2017, a train derailed on a bridge over Interstate 5 in Washington state . Wagons fell on the highway and collided with cars. The train was traveling between Seattle and Portland with 78 passengers and five board members . According to the first official information, at least six people died and numerous injured had to be treated in nearby hospitals.

Amtrak network

Until 1976, Amtrak did not have its own route network. It was only with the bankruptcy of many important freight railways in the northeast and the formation of the new Conrail rail company for freight transport that Amtrak was able to take ownership of the Boston - Washington route from the bankruptcy estate of the bankrupt Penn Central in order to increase passenger transport capacities in the heavily used Northeast Corridor ( Washington, DC - New York  - Boston ). Otherwise, route usage rights usually have to be bought at high prices from the freight companies. There are now shorter sections of Amtrak outside of the Northeast Corridor, such as sections between Chicago and Detroit. Most of these are sections that would otherwise have been abandoned by the freight railways. Since the large freight railways' own freight trains often run more slowly and derailments often occur, the long-distance trains from Amtrak in particular are often unpunctual. However, federal law requires rail freight companies to give priority to Amtrak trains as well as local trains operating on behalf of Amtrak (Title 49 of the US Code, Section 24308 (c)).

Important routes

The AEM 7, built under license from the Swedish ASEA, became the standard electric locomotive in Amtrak's northeast corridor
Amtrak route network in the northeastern United States

The Northeast Corridor is the most important part of the Amtrak-operated long-distance transportation network. In addition to the main route from Boston via New Haven , New York , Philadelphia, Washington, DC to Newport News (near Norfolk , Virginia), there are also connections from Philadelphia to Harrisburg (Keystone Corridor), from New Haven to Springfield (inland route) , from New York to Albany and Buffalo (Empire Corridor) and the Downeaster route from Boston to Portland (Maine) , which was established in 1997. All routes are served several times a day, with the densest offer between Boston and Washington.

In addition to the Acela - high-speed trains run as regional designated inter-regional trains on this route. The Northeast Corridor also includes the international connections from New York to Toronto , the Maple Leaf , and to Montréal, the Adirondack .

The Acela Express in the Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC and Boston , which is based on the French TGV, is successful and forward-looking . In 1993, a German Intercity Express was also used for test purposes on this route .

Other power supplies are the star-shaped network in the Midwest, starting from Chicago, with connections to Detroit (Michigan Service), Milwaukee (Hiawatha Service), St. Louis (Lincoln Service), Quincy (Quincy Service) and from St. Louis to Kansas City (Missouri Service). There is also the Heartland Flyer between Oklahoma City and Dallas .

Train the Capitol Corridor Amtrak California train station in Oakland Jack London Square

The Californian network consists of connections between San Diego , Los Angeles and Santa Barbara ( Pacific Surfliner ) as well as San José , Oakland / San Francisco and Sacramento (Capitol Corridor) and from there to Bakersfield (San Joaqins) including bus connections.

The Northern California network wasn't established with federal assistance until 1992. These networks, like the connections between Portland and Seattle ( Amtrak Cascades ) in the northwest, are referred to as intercity traffic and are operated several times a day, up to hourly intervals on the main routes of the Northeast Corridor and in southern California.

Amtrak long-distance trains

In addition to the intercity networks, which are mostly operated over medium distances (150 to 300 kilometers), Amtrak is best known for long-distance trains, such as the City of New Orleans between Chicago and New Orleans , the “ California Zephyr ” between Chicago and San Francisco or the "Palmetto / Silver Service" pairs of trains running three times a day between New York and Florida. Most of these long-distance trains have sleeping cars and dining cars , almost all routes are otherwise served by a daily pair of trains. The Cardinal from New York via Cincinnati to Chicago only runs three days a week.

There is currently no free connection from the east to the west coast. The “ Sunset Limited ” between Orlando (Florida) and Los Angeles, the only Amtrak train to travel from coast to coast, was initially shortened to the San Antonio (Texas) - Los Angeles section in 2005 after extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina . Since the repair work was completed, he has been traveling on the New Orleans - Los Angeles route.

Many of the trains that run on shorter routes are also financed by state grants. Amtrak only operates the Northeast Corridor and long-distance trains with sleeping and dining cars on a self-sufficient basis or only with federal funds. Mostly funded by the state of Indiana, Hoosier State was operated from August 2, 2015 to February 28, 2017 by the private Iowa Pacific Holdings . The locomotive crew was provided by Amtrak and the train continued to run under the Amtrak train number 850/851. The locomotives used carried the AAR reporting marks of the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad (SLRG) belonging to Iowa Pacific . Effective July 1, 2019, Hoosier State ceased to exist after the state of Indiana withdrew its funding.

Amtrak remote connections overview

Maximum once a day:

  • Adirondack: New York City - Albany - Montréal (Canada)
  • Auto Train: Lorton Auto Train Terminal near Washington - Sanford Auto Train Terminal near Orlando (Autozug)
  • Blue Water (Michigan Services): Chicago - Flint - Port Huron (Michigan)
  • California Zephyr : Chicago - Kansas City - Denver - Salt Lake City - Emeryville (near San Francisco)
  • Capitol Limited: Washington - Pittsburgh - Cleveland - Chicago
  • Cardinal: New York City - Washington - Cincinnati - Indianapolis - Chicago (three times a week)
  • Carolinian: New York City - Washington - Raleigh - Charlotte
  • City of New Orleans : Chicago - Memphis - New Orleans
  • Coast Starlight : Seattle - Portland - Sacramento - Emeryville (near San Francisco) - Los Angeles
  • Crescent : New York City - Washington - Atlanta - New Orleans
  • Empire Builder : Chicago - Minneapolis / St. Paul - Seattle & Portland
  • Ethan Allen Express: New York City - Albany - Rutland (Vermont)
  • Heartland Flyer: Fort Worth - Oklahoma City
  • Illinois Zephyr: Chicago - Quincy (Illinois)
  • Lake Shore Limited : Chicago - Cleveland - Buffalo - Albany - New York City or Boston
  • Maple Leaf: New York City - Albany - Buffalo - Niagara Falls - Toronto (Canada)
  • Palmetto : New York - Washington - Richmond - Savannah
  • Pennsylvanian: New York City - Philadelphia - Pittsburgh
  • Pere Marquette (Michigan Services): Chicago - Grand Rapids (Michigan)
  • Silver Meteor: New York City - Washington - Savannah - Orlando / Miami
  • Silver Star: New York City - Washington - Orlando - Tampa - Miami
  • Southwest Chief : Chicago - Kansas City - Albuquerque - Los Angeles
  • Sunset Limited : Los Angeles - Tucson - Houston - New Orleans (three times a week)
  • Texas Eagle : Chicago - St. Louis - Dallas - Fort Worth - San Antonio (- Los Angeles) (only to / from San Antonio daily, from San Antonio combined with Sunset Limited and three times a week)
  • Vermonter: Washington - New York City - New Haven - Springfield - St. Albans (Vermont)

Several times a day:

  • Acela Express : (Boston -) New York - Philadelphia - Washington
  • Cascades : Vancouver (Canada) - Seattle - Portland - Eugene
  • Capitol Corridor: San José - Oakland / Emeryville - Sacramento
  • Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr (Illinois Services): Chicago - Quincy, Illinois
  • Downeaster : Boston - Portland (Maine) - Brunswick (Maine) (5 × per day)
  • Empire Service: New York City - Albany (- Buffalo - Niagara Falls) (most trains end in Albany)
  • Hiawatha Service: Chicago - Milwaukee (6-8x per day)
  • Illini and Saluki (Illinois Services): Chicago - Champaign - Carbondale (Illinois)
  • Keystone Corridor: New York - Philadelphia - Harrisburg
  • Lincoln Service: Chicago - St. Louis (4 × per day)
  • Missouri River Runner: St. Louis - Kansas City (2 × per day)
  • Pacific Surfliner : San Diego - Los Angeles - Santa Barbara / Goleta (- San Luis Obispo) (some trains end in Los Angeles)
  • Piedmont: Raleigh - Charlotte (North Carolina) (3 × per day)
  • Regional Service Northeast Corridor: Boston or Springfield - New Haven - New York City - Philadelphia - Baltimore - Washington (- various destinations in Virginia) (Roanoke (1 × per day), Richmond (1–2 × per day as end point, as well Stop for trains to Newport News and Norfolk), Newport News (2 × per day) and Norfolk (1–2 × per day)) (most trains end in Washington)
  • San Joaquin : Oakland / Emeryville (San Francisco) or Sacramento - Stockton - Fresno - Bakersfield
  • Shuttle Northeast Corridor / Valley Flyer: New Haven - Springfield (- Greenfield)
  • Wolverine (Michigan Services): Chicago - Detroit - Pontiac (3 times per day)

Amtrak mass transit

Caltrain in Millbrae, California

In addition to long-distance transport , Amtrak also operates various local transport routes with a total of 61.1 million passengers a year. These are the following systems:

Operations management has been transferred from Amtrak to Veolia Transportation (formerly Connex) on the following routes :

Operations on this route have been transferred from Amtrak to TransitAmerica :

Rolling stock

After Amtrak was founded, the railway companies involved had to acquire the locomotives required for passenger transport . These were mainly the EMD E8 and EMD E9 series as well as the FP9 and, for the lines in New York equipped with busbars , the FL10 . For the electrified tracks of the Northeast Corridor were electric locomotives the PRR E44 and PRR GG1 and the Metroliner - multiple units taken.

Diesel locomotives

New diesel locomotives were then procured from 1972. The choice fell on the EMD SDP40F and later on the GE P30CH . These two series had the wheel arrangement Co 'Co'. Both types did not meet expectations. The SDP40F, which is based on the development of the Santa Fe EMD FP 45 , was noticeable in the early 1970s due to spectacular derailments, the cause of which could never be clarified. Amtrak therefore had to part with all locomotives in this series.

Since locomotives were still needed for short and medium-haul traffic, the EMD F40PH was procured from 1976 . After the bankruptcy with the six-axle diesel locomotives, these locomotives were also assigned to long-distance services. Some SDP40F's were converted to FP40PH and were four meters longer than the standard version because of the larger fuel tanks. 70 percent of these locomotives were practically new. For Amtrak, this was primarily a conversion to conceal the fact that the SDPs were actually scrapped after five years of operation. The F40PH should then develop into the backbone for the non-electrified routes over the next 20 years.

Two locomotives of the EMD F69PHAC series were used as part of the testing of three-phase AC technology. These were repainted at short notice in the ICE colors and, during promotional trips, were pre-tensioned in front of the ICE train rented out to Amtrak for a test.

The EMD GP40TC series was acquired from GO Transit at the end of the 1980s to counteract the shortage of locomotives in intercity traffic. In 1998, EMD F59PHI locomotives were also procured for these trains on the west coast . This type of locomotive had previously been procured by other local transport companies.

In 1991, 18 GE Dash 8-32BWH (also known as B32-8PHDM ) were purchased at short notice to replace the now outdated EMD F40PH .

1993 began to procure new diesel locomotives for long-distance traffic. The choice fell on the Genesis series offered by General Electric , also known as the GE Dash 8-P40B or P40DC. From 1996 the successor model GE Dash 9-P42B or P42DC was procured. They largely replaced the F40PH as the standard locomotive. 207 locomotives were procured in three deliveries. In 1995/1998, 18 hybrid locomotives of the Genesis series GE Dash 9-P32ACDM (GE P32ACDM) were added to the fleet for the route sections in the New York area equipped with conductor rails .

Electric locomotives and multiple units

E60CP electric locomotive from General Electric
Amtrak ACS-64 with the number 600 in action on February 8, 2014 in Odenton, Maryland.

The electric locomotives taken over by Amtrak when it was founded were technically obsolete, so the company looked for a replacement. The E60CH and E60CP series locomotives ordered from General Electric in
1972 were not very successful. The heavy locomotives had poor running characteristics and could therefore only be used with a top speed of 145 km / h instead of 190 km / h. The search for a suitable locomotive for fast trains continued, with locomotives from European manufacturers also being tested. The final choice fell in 1980 to purchase 53 locomotives of the AEM-7 series , a version of the Swedish SJ Rc4 adapted to American requirements . This locomotive was to form the backbone of high-speed traffic on the Northeast Corridor for almost 20 years.

In the early 1990s, Amtrak investigated the introduction of high-speed rail transport with multiple units. Tests were carried out with a German ICE and a Swedish SJ X2 . The choice finally fell on a multiple unit from Bombardier and Alstom . The train is mechanically based on the Canadian LRC and electrically on the TGV . From 1998, 20 Acela trains for 240 km / h and 21 HHP-8 electric locomotives derived from the Acela power units for a top speed of 200 km / h were procured.

In October 2010, 70 Amtrak Cities Sprinter ACS-64 electric locomotives were ordered from Siemens. The first locomotive was delivered in 2013 and put into scheduled operation in early 2014. All locomotives had been delivered by 2015 and had replaced all AEM-7 and HHP-8 in operation by 2016.

TurboTrain and Turboliner

When it was founded, Amtrak also took over the two UAC TurboTrain turbine multiple units developed by United Aircraft for the US Department of Transportation from 1966 to 1969 and acquired a third, identical train from the CN . The vehicles used for the New York – Boston express service were retired by 1976 due to a lack of availability and high operating costs.

The six multiple units purchased by the French company ANF-Frangeco from 1973 to 1975 were also not a great success. These gas turbine trains largely corresponded to the SNCF RTG . By 1994 they were all retired.

In 1976, the design of the French multiple units was modified by the American company Rohr and seven so-called "RTL" units were delivered to Amtrak. These trains were mainly used in the Empire Corridor traffic New York - Albany - Buffalo - Niagara Falls and gradually replaced by conventional car trains from the 1990s. The last RTL multiple unit was parked in 2002.

In 2000, a modernization and reconstruction of the RTL trains, financed by the State of New York, began. Two of the trains, now called "RTL III", were completed in April 2003 and used for a short time by Amtrak, a third train left the factory in September 2003. However, due to legal disputes between the state and Amtrak over appropriate route adjustments and vehicle modifications, the program was reverted and the trains already in use are parked. Amtrak and the State of New York ended their dispute at the end of 2007. A continuation of the reconstruction of the RTL multiple units is not planned; the seven units were put up for sale in April 2008 through Amtrak.

Passenger cars

Two coupled double-deck Amtrak long-distance cars. The transition between the cars is on the upper floor
Sleeping car compartment in daytime position of the cheapest booking class (Roomettes)
"Superliner", "Coach class" large-capacity long-distance coach
California Zephyr observation car

With the establishment of Amtrak, 3000 passenger coaches were taken over from the private railways, of which the Amtrak 1200 took over as the "Heritage" series in the equipment park. Almost all of them were from the 1930s to 1950s. In the period that followed, these wagons from different companies were thrown together on Amtrak trains (“hand me down”), which resulted in very colorful trains. This era went down in Amtrak history as the “Rainbow Era”. It was not until 1974 that all of the cars were repainted in silver with blue, white and red stripes.

The Heritage cars were no longer up to date, but it was not until 1975 that Amtrak put new Intercity cars into service, the design of which was unmistakably taken from the Metroliner multiple units with the domed car body . The manufacturer Budd supplied the cars with the typical sides and roof beads as coach seating cars, café-bistro cars, club cars (with an expensive class category), as mixed café / coach cars and dinette cars that were similar to the German Quick-Pick dining car. In 1977 this series was completed with 500 cars and was mainly used in the northeast corridor. Control cars converted from Metroliner railcars were added later.

In 1978, Budd delivered new Superliner double-decker cars for long-distance travel west of the Mississippi . This was based on the highliner double-decker coaches of the Santa Fé from 1956. A replica series followed in 1989 as the Superliner II. These cars are available as coach, lounge (observation car), sleeper (sleeping car) and diner (dining car).

This enabled new rolling stock to be used on all long-distance trains west of Chicago. The few intercity trains in the Midwest and California were equipped with Horizon cars from the 1980s, the basic features of which are based on the Comet cars of American and Canadian suburban railways. Coach and dinette cars were produced from this.

In 1989 another series of Amfleet II wagons followed, which, like the Heritage wagons, only had one door on each side of the wagon, otherwise resembled the 75 series and were intended for cross-country trains from New York to Chicago, New Orleans and Florida.

For the Pacific Surfliner trains (Los Angeles – San Diego), previously equipped with Amfleet wagons, new double-decker cars were put into service from 1993. For the Capitolservice San José – Oakland – Sacramento and the Oakland – Bakersfield (San Joaquins) trains, which existed from 1992 and mostly operated with Horizon wagons, further double-decker intercity wagons came into service from 2001. These cars are operated by Amtrak California on behalf of the Caltrans government agency.

Spanish Talgo trains have been operating on the Cascade Corridor Eugene - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver since 1997 .

From 1996, the old Heritage sleeping cars were replaced by new Viewliner single-deck sleepers. Today none of the cars taken over in 1971 are in use. The dining cars on the overland trains from New York have recently been replaced by new cars in the Viewliner design. They were the longest-serving cars in the Amtrak passenger train fleet.

Many of the baggage trolleys used by Amtrak were converted from heritage seated cars in the late 1990s. In the meantime, these have also been replaced by Viewliner luggage trolleys. They are used both in the NEC and in intercity trains. Their design in the original scheme of the Amtrak with blue-white-red stripes is striking.

In addition, Amtrak used express freight wagons and refrigerated wagons (for perishable goods) on many interurban trains until the mid-2000s. At times there were even truck trailer trolleys. But since many of the private rail freight companies resisted this competition, Amtrak has since largely given up this business.

The painting scheme changed over time. Today, a dark blue ribbon window with two thin red stripes is common, which is supposed to symbolize the colors of the US flag.

Club-class cars later became first-class cars. From the mid-1990s, when the Acela operation became apparent, the First Class was only reserved for them and the Metroliners, otherwise generally only for sleeping cars. In normal trains, the cheaper (compared to first class) business class replaced the previously usual first class. In the transition period this class was called the customer class. At that time there were D trains with First, Customer and Coach class cars in the northeast corridor. Such train compositions were also used after Buffalo. Like the Acela multiple units, the coach class in the Metroliners has been replaced by business class cars. This means that the NEC is effectively a three-tier system.

Corporate governance


Board of Directors

The Rail Passenger Service Act created a board of directors. This could include a maximum of 15 people. Born members are the President of the Railway Company and the Minister of Transport (or a permanent representative). Furthermore, the President could appoint a maximum of six other people to the Supervisory Board with the approval of the Senate. At least one representative should represent the consumers. The shareholders of the preference shares could send four representatives and the shareholders of the common shares three representatives to the Supervisory Board.

However, the full number of representatives was never used. Typically the Board of Directors consisted of 11 members. The representatives appointed by the President were appointed for a maximum of four years. You could remain in office for another year until a successor was elected. A vacant seat is filled regularly until the end of the respective term of office.

Since the preference shares are all owned by the United States, the Secretary of Transportation was the sole representative of these shareholders. With the Amtrak Improvement Act 1981, the number of seats on the Board of Directors was reduced to nine. Since then, this has consisted of the Secretary of Transportation, the President of Amtrak, five representatives appointed by the President and two elected representatives of the preferred shareholders. This eliminated the participation of the common shareholders (i.e. the railway companies involved).

The following people were Chairman of the Board:

subsidiary company


Web links

Wikivoyage: Rail  Travel USA Travel Guide
Commons : Amtrak  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Amtrak National Facts
  2. Audited Consolidated Financial Statements - Fiscal Year 2014
  3. Amtrak shareholder suit heads to arbitrator , UTU News December 8, 2008
  4. “Want to Privatize Amtrak? Not So Fast ”. ( Memento of January 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Railway Age of January 1, 2013
  5. Subcommittee on Railroads: Hearing on Current Amtrak Issues April 30, 2003 ( Memento November 10, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Amtrak report : bankruptcy prevented . In: Eisenbahn-Revue International , Issue 8–9 / 2002, ISSN  1421-2811 , p. 384.
  7. “Amtrak ridership growth continues in FY 2013” , Amtrak (PDF; 41 kB)
  9. ^ Greg Culver: Mobility and the American City . In: Werner Gamerith, Ulrike Gerhard (Hrsg.): Kulturgeographie der USA. Understand a nation . Springer Spectrum, Heidelberg 2017, ISBN 3-662-48237-1 , p. 184 .
  10. “Amtrak Ridership Rolls up best ever records” , Amtrak (PDF; 743 kB)
  11. Monthly Performance Report For September 2013 , Amtrak (PDF; 1.3 MB), November 8, 2013, accessed November 13, 2013
  12. “Amtrak Ridership Continues to Set Records - Despite Sandy Damage,”, April 9, 2013.
  13. “White House Doubles Down on Cuts to Infrastructure Investment, Slashes Amtrak Routes and Transit Funding” ,, May 24, 2017
  14. New stop for Northeast Regional trains in Roanoke (Amtrak press release of September 7, 2017)
  15. ^ Valley Flyer website
  16. Philadelphia: Disaster may have hit an object . Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. May 16, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  17. Washington State: Train falls from bridge . December 18, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  18. Title 49 of the US Code, §24308, on
  19. Article in the Chicago Sun Times of August 2, 2015 ( Memento of August 6, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  20. Amtrak suspends ticket sales for Hoosier State line after June 30. in the Indianapolis Business Journal, published April 8, 2019
  21. ^ Siemens breaks into the US long-distance passenger rail market
  22. ^ Amtrak Unveils Advanced Technology Locomotives For Northeast Service. (PDF; 578 kB) In: Press release ATK-13-039. Amtrak, May 13, 2013, accessed May 14, 2013 .
  23. "Turboliner trainsets" on the "On Track On Line" website
  24. “New York and Amtrak Resolve Empire Corridor High-Speed ​​Rail Project Dispute”: Amtrak news release dated December 12, 2007
  25. Progressive Railroading Classifieds (Trade Press Publishing Corporation), April 2008
  26. AMTRAK named William Flynn as CEO and President . In: AMTRAK Media Center from March 2, 2020. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  27. Our Members ,, accessed October 8, 2015
  28. ^ List of UIC members ,, accessed on November 9, 2015