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Amtrak - Amtrak USA - The National Railroad Passenger Corporation

The name "Amtrak" results from the blending of the words "America" and "track." It is properly used in documents with only the first letter capitalized. The railroad is officially known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak, is a corporation striving to deliver a high quality, safe, on-time rail passenger service that exceeds customer expectations. Learn all about Amtrak here from every angle.

National Rail Operator for Intercity Passenger Service

Amtrak, the national rail operator, connects America in safer, greener and healthier ways. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day — at speeds up to 150 mph — to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak also is the operator of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for four commuter rail agencies.

Basic Amtrak Facts
  • The Amtrak mission is to deliver intercity transportation with superior safety, customer service and financial excellence. To accomplish this mission, Amtrak has identified three overarching strategic themes: Safety and Security, Customer Focus and Financial Excellence.
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  • During FY 2015 (October 2014 - September 2015), Amtrak welcomed aboard more than 30.8 million passengers, representing the fifth straight year in which ridership has exceeded 30 million. On an average day, more than 84,600 passengers ride more than 300 Amtrak trains.
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  • Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces on more than 21,300 miles of routes. It is the nation's only high-speed intercity passenger rail provider, operating at a top speed of 150 mph (241 kph) over current infrastructure. More than half of Amtrak trains operate at top speeds of 100 mph (160 kph) or greater. The company has more than 20,000 employees.
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  • An average 600 daily Thruway schedules with guaranteed connections via buses, vans, ferries and other modes extend Amtrak service to more than 400 communities not served directly by Amtrak trains in 38 states and three Canadian provinces.
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  • In FY 2015, Amtrak earned approximately $3.2 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $4.3 billion in expense*. No country in the world operates a passenger rail system without some form of public support for capital costs and/or operating expenses.
  • *Unaudited FY 2015 figures; to be finalized in summer 2016.
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  • Amtrak's unaudited adjusted FY 2015 operating loss was $306.5 million.
  • Amtrak covered 91 percent of operating costs in FY 2015 with ticket sales and other revenue.
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  • In December 2015, for the first time in transportation legislative history, intercity passenger rail and Amtrak reauthorization language was included as part of the federal surface transportation bill.
  • When included among U.S. airlines, Amtrak ranks No. 6 in domestic passengers carried. In the Northeast Corridor (NEC), Amtrak now has a very strong position in many markets that were previously dominated by air carriers.
    • Amtrak carried more than three times as many riders between Washington, DC, and New York City as the airline industry.
    • Amtrak carried more riders between New York City and Boston than all of the airlines combined. 

The 25 busiest stations in 2015 were (Ridership equals boardings plus alightings):

Station Ridership
New York, NY 10,189,521
Washington, DC 4,971,128
Philadelphia, PA 4,138,777
Chicago, IL 3,295,630
Los Angeles, CA 1,589,391
Boston - South Station, MA 1,544,169
Sacramento, CA 1,027,013
Baltimore, MD 993,721
Albany-Rensselaer, NY 825,353
San Diego, CA 773,497
Wilmington, DE 700,341
New Haven, CT 698,656
Providence, RI 690,752
BWI Airport, MD 669,609
Newark, NJ 641,346
Seattle, WA 604,832
Milwaukee, WI 594,076
Emeryville, CA 587,926
Boston - Back Bay, MA 578,403
Portland, OR 561,596
Lancaster, PA 541,252
Bakersfield, CA 513,884
Harrisburg, PA 508,685
Route 128 Station, MA 444,670
Irvine, CA 421,736
  • Amtrak-owned property outside the NEC spine (Washington - Boston) includes:
    • Springfield Line: A 60.5-mile track segment from New Haven, CT, to Springfield, MA.
    • Keystone Corridor: The 104.2 miles of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track in Pennsylvania between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
    • Michigan Line: A 95.6-mile segment of up to 110 mph (177 kph) track from Porter, IN, to Kalamazoo, MI.
    • Amtrak owns 18 tunnels (consisting of 24 miles of track) and 1,414 bridges.
    • Amtrak owns three heavy maintenance facilities in Wilmington and Bear, DE, and Beech Grove, IN, as well as other maintenance facilities in Washington, DC; New York City and Rensselaer, NY; Boston; Hialeah, FL; Chicago; New Orleans; Los Angeles and Oakland; and Seattle.
    • Amtrak is the only railroad in North America to maintain right-of-way for service at speeds in excess of 125 mph (201 kph), and its engineering forces maintain more than 350 route-miles of track for 100+ mph (160+ kph) service.
  • In December 2012, Amtrak and CSX Transportation reached an agreement for Amtrak to operate, maintain and dispatch approximately 94 miles of the New York City to Niagara Falls Empire Corridor in New York between Poughkeepsie and Hoffmans (near Schenectady).
  • Seventy-two percent of the miles traveled by Amtrak trains are on tracks owned by other railroads. Known as "host railroads," they range from large publicly traded companies based in the U.S. or Canada, tostate and local government agencies and small businesses. Amtrak pays these host railroads for use of their track and other resources needed to operate Amtrak trains, with incentives for on-time performance.
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  • The six largest host railroads for Amtrak trains are:
    • BNSF Railway, 6.8 million train miles
    • Union Pacific Railroad, 6.1 million train miles
    • CSX Transportation, 5.1 million train miles
    • Norfolk Southern Railway, 2.3 million train miles
    • Canadian National Railway, 1.4 million train miles
    • Metro North Railroad, 1.3 million train miles
  • The company's growth over the past ten years, especially on intercity corridors between 100 - 500 miles, hints at the tremendous opportunity of developing a robust, nationwide passenger rail system focused on city pairs.
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  • In 2015, Amtrak received ISO 9001 certification and earned several industry awards for its business transformation that has reduced costs, restructured performance management and differentiated pay, strengthened career growth and development opportunities, implemented best-in-class recruitment and retention strategies, and created a Total Rewards compensation and benefits structure.
  • Amtrak was recognized for workplace excellence by earning a spot in Forbes magazine's first-ever "America's Best Employers 2015."
Northeast Corridor Services

The Amtrak Northeast Corridor (NEC) is the busiest railroad in North America, with approximately 2,200 Amtrak, commuter and freight trains operating over some portion of the Washington-Boston route each day.

  • 17.6 million trips were made by Amtrak passengers on the NEC in FY 2015. This included all Amtrak trains that traveled over some portion of the NEC spine (Washington - New York - Boston) and connecting corridors to Harrisburg, PA, Springfield, MA, Albany, NY and Richmond, VA.
  • In FY 2015, Amtrak carried 11.7 million passengers on Acela Express and Northeast Regional service trains on the NEC spine (Washington - New York - Boston) — the best year ever.
  • Approximately 750,000 Amtrak and commuter passenger rail trips are taken on the NEC every day.
  • The Acela Express is the fastest train in the Western Hemisphere, with a normal maximum speed of 150 mph (241 kph) on two sections of its route between Boston and New Haven, CT, (35 total miles). Its top speed is 135 mph (217 kph) between New York, NY, and Washington, DC.
  • Acela trains carried more than 3.4 million passengers and generated nearly $585 million in ticket revenue in FY 2015.
  • The name Acela comes from a combination of the words "acceleration" and "excellence." Acela Express is the company's premium service. More than 38.7 million passengers have traveled on the fleet of 20 Acela Express trains since revenue service began on December 11, 2000.
  • Amtrak owns 363 miles of the 457-mile Northeast Corridor connecting Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Trains regularly reach speeds of 125-150 mph (201-241 kph). Two sections of the NEC are owned by others:
    • The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (10 miles) and Connecticut Department of Transportation (46 miles) own 56 miles on Metro North Railroad between New Rochelle, NY, and New Haven, CT;
    • The state of Massachusetts owns 38 miles between the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border and Boston that is operated and maintained by Amtrak.
State-Supported Services

Amtrak receives funding from 18 states and other entities under 19 operating agreements for financial support of 26 short-distance routes (less than 750 miles). Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) required Amtrak and its state partners to jointly develop a cost-sharing methodology to equitably charge states for state-supported intercity passenger rail service. The PRIIA 209 methodology became effective in October 2013.

Continued operation of these state-supported routes is subject to annual operating agreements and state legislative appropriations according to Section 209. Fueled by Amtrak's valued partnership with its state partners, state-supported routes carried nearly 14.7 million passengers in FY 2015.

  • States that provide funding and the routes on which some or all service was state-supported during FY 2015:
    • California: Capitol Corridor service (San Jose - Auburn), managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority; Pacific Surfliner service (San Luis Obispo - San Diego), managed by the LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority; and San Joaquins service (Bakersfield - Sacramento/Oakland), managed by the San Joaquins Joint Powers Authority. Plus an extensive system of connecting Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach routes.
    • Connecticut: Springfield Shuttles and through trains (with Massachusetts) (Springfield - New Haven) and Vermonter (with Massachusetts and Vermont) (St. Albans - New Haven)

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