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2000s--America's Railroad

A decade of tremendous growth

As the new millennium dawned, Amtrak completed electrification from New Haven to Boston. On December 11, 2000, the first Acela Express high-speed trainset, traveling at speeds of up to 150mph, operated between Washington and Boston. Following the success of the new Acela service, the Metroliner Service concluded operation in 2006 after 37 years.

Although there was much to celebrate, the company again faced grave financial troubles in 2002, as reduced federal funding and unsuccessful efforts to comply with a mandate to cover all operating costs from revenues brought Amtrak to the brink of bankruptcy. This was avoided through a loan agreement made with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and increased federal funding enabled Amtrak to begin the task of restoring infrastructure and equipment to a state of good repair.

The number of Amtrak passengers continued to grow significantly. By the end of its fourth decade, Amtrak had won 69 percent of the air-rail market between New York and Washington, D.C., and carried more people between New York and Boston than all of the airlines combined.

State support led to service improvements and expansion, including restoration of passenger rail service to Maine after a 36-year absence, significant increases in train frequencies and ridership in Illinois, and a partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under which the Philadelphia-Harrisburg Keystone Corridor was upgraded for 110mph electrified service.

The Great American Stations website was launched in 2006 to foster partnerships with communities interested in station revitalization. Congress passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, which provided $1.3 billion to Amtrak for capital investments as well as significant federal funding to states for improved and expanded Amtrak service and development of high-speed rail service.  Amtrak is partnering with several states to develop and improve existing services.

Long distance cars and electric locomotives to power Northeast Regional trains are on order from CAF, USA and Siemens.  This is the first step toward implementation of a fleet plan that will deliver greatly improved equipment and additional capacity, and will complement and feed Amtrak’s plans for a new entry into New York and an upgraded Northeast Corridor with top speeds of 220mph.