Amtrak Facts

  • The name Amtrak is the blending of the words “American” and “Track”. The railroad’s official name is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.
  • Amtrak officially began service on May 1, 1971 when Clocker no. 235 departed New York Penn Station at 12:05 a.m. bound for Philadelphia.
  • In 1971, Amtrak announced a schedule of 184 trains, serving 314 destinations.
  • When service began on May 1, 1971, Amtrak had 25 employees. Today, the company employs over 24,000 people.
  • Amtrak took over the passenger operations of all but three railroads who continued their own intercity passenger train service for a period of time. They were the Rock Island Railroad, the Southern Railway, and the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.
  • The Southern Railway ceased operations of its Southern Crescent in 1979. Amtrak assumed the route, renaming it the Crescent.
  • The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad ceased passenger train operations in 1983. Amtrak re-routed its California Zephyr to cover the Denver & Rio Grande’s routes.
  • Since the beginning, even-numbered trains have traveled north and east. Odd-numbered trains travel south and west. Among the exceptions are Amtrak’s Surfliners, which use the opposite numbering system inherited from their former operator, the Santa Fe Railroad and some Empire Corridor Trains


  • Amtrak serves more than 500 stations in 46 states. Those not included are Alaska, Hawaii, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Wyoming is served by Amtrak Thruway Motorcoaches.
  • The state capital that receives the most Amtrak service is Trenton, New Jersey.
  • Amtrak operates over more than 22,000 route miles. It owns 730 route miles, about 3% of the total nationwide, primarily between Boston and Washington, DC, and in Michigan. In other parts of the country, Amtrak trains use tracks owned by freight railroads.
  • On weekdays, Amtrak operates up to 265 trains per day, excluding commuter trains.
  • Amtrak trains operate every minute of the entire year.
  • Amtrak’s ten busiest train stations in 2001 were:
Rank City/Station Number of Boardings
and Alightings
1 New York, NY 8,589,534
2 Philadelphia, PA 3,764,734
3 Washington, DC 3,518,423
4 Chicago, IL 2,152,241
5 Newark, NJ 1,430,144
6 Trenton, NJ 1,013,138
7 Boston, MA 989,749
8 Los Angeles 984,870
9 Princeton Junction, NJ 915,396
10 Baltimore, MD 879,136


  • In fiscal year 2001, Amtrak ridership reached an all time high with more than 23.5 million guests.
  • Each day, approximately 65,000 guests travel on Amtrak.

Train Trips

  • The Auto Train, which travels between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida is the longest Amtrak passenger train with two engines and 40-plus rail cars.
  • At 1480 ft., the platform at Amtrak’s station in Lorton, Virginia where guests board the Auto Train is longer than the Sears Tower, the tallest building in North America.
  • Auto Train service began on a tri-weekly basis on October 30, 1983. Daily service was introduced a year later.
  • At 2,768 miles, the Sunset Limited between Orlando and Los Angeles is the longest Amtrak intercity passenger train-ride.
  • At 86 miles, the Hiawatha, which travels between Chicago and Milwaukee, is Amtrak’s shortest intercity passenger train ride.
  • Amtrak currently operates its Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Silver Palm, Sunset Limited, and Auto Train to Florida. Other Amtrak trains that once called Florida home include:
    • The Floridian from Chicago to Florida
    • The Champion from New York to St. Petersburg
    • The South Wind from Chicago to Florida
    • The Florida Special from New York to Miami
    • The Miamian from New York to Miami
    • The Vacationer from New York to Miami

Train Equipment/Infrastructure

  • Passenger Cars:Amtrak operates 2,188 railroad cars including 173 sleeper cars, 743 coach cars, 66 first class/business class cars, 65 dormitory/crew cars, 65 lounge/café/dinette cars, and 83 dining cars. Baggage and Mail and Express cars make up the remainder of the fleet.
  • Locomotives:Amtrak operates 436 locomotives, 360 diesel and 76 electric.
  • Sixteen Acela Express trainsets currently provide high-speed rail service along the northeast corridor between Washington and Boston.
  • Amtrak owns three heavy maintenance facilities in Wilmington, and Bear, Delaware and Beech Grove, Indiana, as well as other maintenance facilities in Boston, Chicago, Hialeah, FL., Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Niagara Falls, Oakland, Rensselaer, NY, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
  • Amtrak owns 18 tunnels consisting of 26.5 miles of track and 1,165 bridges consisting of 61 miles of track.

Train Names


  • Amtrak’s Cardinal was named for the state bird of each state on the train’s route between Chicago and Washington, DC.
  • The Empire Builder that travels between Chicago and Seattle/Portland was named for James J. Hill, the builder of the Great Northern Railway.
  • The combined words acceleration and excellence form Acela, which is the name of the high-speed Acela Express and conventional Acela Regional in the Northeast.

Commuter Service

  • Amtrak is the nation’s largest provider of contract-commuter service for state and regional authorities.
  • Through its commuter services, Amtrak serves an additional 61.1 million people per year.
  • Amtrak currently provides commuter service for the following state and regional authorities:
    • Caltrain (California)
    • Coasters (California)
    • Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC)
    • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
    • Metrolink (California)
    • Shoreline East (Connecticut)
    • Virginia Railway Express (VRE)
    • Please visit out friends
  • Amtrak provides maintenance services for the Sounder Commuter Rail system in the Seattle area. 




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