Sharing the Amtrak story with our riders and the American people is important to us. Each year brings new milestones to our rich 40 years that we have documented in detail below.
Please visit the timeline to see how Amtrak has been impacted by important legislation in Congress, how our environmental efforts have evolved over the years and when we have added service to your local or regional community.
- October 30 - President Nixon signs Rail Passenger Service Act, setting Amtrak's transition date to May 1, 1971
- March 22 - Amtrak formally announces intended routes
- March 30 - Amtrak incorporated in Washington, D.C.
- May 1 - Amtrak service begins; the first train operated by the new company is a Clocker (Philadelphia-New York)
- National advertising begins in August
- October 1 - Amtrak's first Reservations Sales Office opens in Chicago
- Amtrak begins service to Vancouver, B.C. and Montreal
- New station opens in Cincinnati
- Amtrak offers 14 daily Metroliner Service trains from New York to Washington, D.C. and 11 trains between New York Penn Station and Boston timetable
- Debuts china designs on the Broadway Limited, and then on the Super Chief, Silver Meteor, Panama Limited, Merchants' Limited and Coast Daylight/Starlight
- 403(b) services operates with three partners
- Mass. (Boston-Worcester-Springfield) - all year
- Ill. (Chicago-Quincy) - all year
- Pa. (Philadelphia-Harrisburg) (began October 29)
- Congress passes Amtrak Improvement Act and the Regional Rail Reorganization Act, mandating transfer of operation of the Northeast Corridor to Amtrak
- Amtrak orders new locomotives, including SDP-40F diesels, electric locomotives, and "Metroliner-type" cars (later called Amfleets)
- Amtrak lets a contract to specify and design new bi-level cars (later known as Superliners)
- "Save energy - take our car" campaign targets consumers concerned about rising gas prices
- Installs new ticket reservation system, "Automated Reservation and Ticketing System" (ARTS)
- Operations Department begins the gradual takeover of operations by establishing system of regional superintendents
- Places order for 11 train sets with turbine-powered cars of French design
- Amtrak and the Military Traffic Management Command cooperatively develop a military travelers program
- Over 1 million people visit Amtrak's exhibit at Expo '74 in Spokane, Washington
- Order for 200 "Metroliner-type" cars ready to be placed.
- Regional reservation centers in Manhattan, Bensalem, Pa., Jacksonville, Fla., Chicago, Ill., and Los Angeles, Calif., provide 24 hour nationwide toll-free reservations, ticketing, and general information. Travel agents sell $20 million worth of Amtrak travel.
- Establishes new routes, including Norfolk-Chicago, New York/Boston-Chicago, Minneapolis-Duluth state supported service, and Detroit-Jackson (partially funded by Michigan).
- By December, the Budd Company turns out one Amfleet car per working day
- Initiates a major program to facilitate intermodal travel by providing reservation clerks with information on bus interchange routes
- Reaches agreement with the Air Transport Association to provide alternative service during periods of interrupted airline schedules
- Introduces USA Rail Pass to overseas markets
- Orders 235 bi-level Superliner cars for long distance trains from Pullman- Standard Company
- April 1- Amtrak takes over the Northeast Corridor, assuming direct control of trains and track forces, dispatching, signaling and maintenance
- Amtrak becomes the first national company to offer reservations service to passengers with hearing disabilities
- Both President Ford and President Jimmy Carter make campaign trips aboard Amtrak trains
- Amtrak takes over maintenance facilities in Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mich., Buffalo, N.Y. and the Northeast Corridor.
- Receives and puts into service 30 F40PH locomotives.
- Launches the "We've Been Working on the Railroad" marketing campaign.
- Issues five year improvement plan calling for purchase of new passenger cars and locomotives, modernization of stations and maintenance facilities, and track upgrading
- ¾ of Amtrak day service passengers traveling in new cars, either Amfleet or Turboliners
- March 31- Kicks off $1.75 billion Northeast Corridor Improvement Program (NECIP), designed to provide regularly scheduled rail travel between Washington, D.C. and New York in 2 hours, 40 minutes and Boston and New York in 3 hours, 40 minutes
- Implements automated Ticket-by-Mail (TBM) system
- Begins using pre-portioned servings, frozen meal items, automatic beverage dispensing and other modern food preparation methods
- Reaches agreement on operating the Southern Crescent service between Washington, D.C. and New Orleans via Atlanta
- Makes interline agreements with 12 new carriers, increasing number of cities served by such connections from 322 to 503
- Amtrak writes first "Book of Operating Rules"
- Amtrak is the only railroad consistently meeting the industry's goal of 15% minority business participation
- Completes or rehabilitates 61 stations
- Introduces Superliner I, first new long distance car in two decades, on Chicago-Seattle Empire Builder
- Receives special Congressional authorization of $23 million for the exclusive use of state-supported services
- With the only concrete tie/welded rail machinery at work in the U.S., Amtrak rehabilitates 121 miles of track, including the installation of 296,000 concrete ties and 74 miles of continuous welded rail
- Major corporate effort results in planning the joint development of space and air rights around Philadelphia 30th Street Station
- Establishes new state-supported routes in Illinois, Oregon and Pennsylvania and adds service on routes in California and Missouri, bringing the total number of state-supported routes to 15
- Introduces slumbercoach service between Washington, D.C. and Montreal and Washington, D.C. and Boston
- Introduces Superliners on three additional routes: Chicago-Oakland, Los Angeles-Ogden, and Chicago-Los Angeles.
- Orders 150 new cars, Amfleet II, (125 long distance coaches and 25 food service cars) from the Budd Company
- Tests new automatic self-serve ticketing machines (later known as INSTA Ticket) at Washington Union Station and Philadelphia 30th Street Station
- Launches the "America is Getting into Training" advertising campaign
- BWI Rail Station dedicated on October 23 as America's first intercity air-rail-ground transportation connection; revenue service began on October 26.
- 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
- Amtrak gains complete ownership of the Washington Terminal Company, which operates the train facility and trackage within Union Station and Ivy City Yard to Union Station. Previously, CSX held 50% interest.
- "See America at See Level" advertising campaign launches
- Express Metroliner Service (Washington, D.C.-New York) trains make the trip in 2 hours, 59 "civilized" minutes with a 92% on-time performance
- Begins marketing our expertise at the Beech Grove maintenance facility to commuter agencies and the heavy equipment industry.
- Introduces Arrow, Amtrak's new nationwide ticketing and reservation computer system, reducing lost call volume to 1% of all calls received
- Florida becomes the eighth state to participate in the 403(b) program, with a daily round-trip Miami-Tampa service
- Enhances on-board services including complimentary coffee/tea and newspaper for sleeping car passengers and additional entrees on the dinner menus.
- Establishes joint Labor/Management Productivity Council
- 50% of total operating costs covered with revenue, three years ahead of the Congressional directive.
- Begins tri-weekly Auto Train service, which becomes so popular, the service is soon expanded to daily operation
- "All Aboard Amtrak" advertising campaign and fare plan begins, designed to acquaint public with the improvements in system and passenger amenities
- Establishes "On-Board Chief" program to place supervisors on long-distance trains
- 1-800-USA-RAIL begins
- For the first time, the number of travel agents offering Amtrak tickets tops 10,000
- In July, the California Zephyr reroutes from Wyoming through Colorado over Moffat route, replacing the Rio Grande Zephyr, the last privately operated intercity passenger service.
- Major station rehabilitations underway at Baltimore, Wilmington, Trenton and Newark
- Launches Teletrak, providing travel agents with an instant link to Amtrak sales agents
- Opens new stations in Anaheim, Oceanside, Galesburg, Tacoma, Omaha, Huntington and New Carrollton
- Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road agree to share in modernizing New York's Penn Station, including a state-of-the-art train control system and extensive improvements to all passenger facilities
- Begins operating the Beech Grove, the country's most advanced track geometry car, which becomes part of one of the most intensive, successful safety and track quality programs in the rail industry
- Employee safety reaches its highest level in Amtrak's history
- Begins offering tickets through the TWA and American Airlines ticket reservation systems
- 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
- Introduces enhancements aboard the Southwest Chief, including route guides, souvenir dining car menus, games, movies and guides
- Inaugurates Executive Sleeper service on the Night Owl for Washington, D.C.-New York business travelers
- Amtrak takes over responsibility for the completion of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project from the Federal Railroad Administration
- Custom Class is introduced to the West Coast on the San Diegans
- Adds service to Cape Cod during the summer months, with support from Massachusetts
- Railfones become available on all Metroliner Service trains, allowing passengers to place calls to people outside the train
- During the first quarter, Amtrak surpasses Eastern Airlines to become the leading Washington, D.C.-New York carrier
- Adds route guides, movies, games and a "hospitality hour" to the Empire Builder, California Zephyr and Coast Starlight
- Begins modifying electrical equipment on Amfleet cars so that trains can operate in "push-pull" service
- New "A-plus" system allows customers to give an agent a credit card number over the phone, and pick up a ticket at the station.
- Five reservation sales offices combined into three, in Fort Washington, Pa, Los Angeles, and Chicago
- Publishes a 92-page "Travel Planner" showing in vivid color all the trains, accommodations, and hotel and tour packages available through America's passenger railroad"
- Develops a "training video cassette"-the first of its kind in the industry-to familiarize travel agents with Amtrak's fares and travel opportunities
- Completes first Viewliner prototype
- Unveils new "Self ServeTicketing" machines at heavily-trafficked stations such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Los Angeles
- New or refurbished stations open in Salt Lake City, Hartford, Raleigh and Martinez
- Introduces nonstop Metroliner Service between Washington, D.C. and New York, featuring complimentary newspapers and New York City subway tokens for sale
- CETC (Centralized Electrification and Traffic Control) takes over complete automated control of traffic and power on the Northeast Corridor between Wilmington and Washington, D.C.
- Ticket sales by travel agencies increase by nearly 20%
- Introduces first computerized "yield management" system to handle ticket sales
- Washington D.C.'s restored Union Station reopens to great fanfare in September
- Introduces Superliner enhancements including movies, special menus and other amenities on the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited
- Revenue on Northeast Corridor trains grows by more than 15% following the move into the restored Washington Union Station
- For the second consecutive year, Amtrak carries more passengers between Washington, D.C. and New York than all of the airlines combined
- With sponsorship from Harrah's casino, Amtrak begins service to Atlantic City
- Purchases 104 privately-financed Horizon cars from Bombardier, Inc. - first short-distance cars acquired since 1977
- Amtrak chefs begin custom food preparation and presentation training at the Culinary Institute of America
- Adds morning and afternoon nonstop Metroliner Service
- The first of several such lounges, Amtrak's Metropolitan Lounge opens in New York for First class sleeping car and Club Service passengers.
- Conference Club Car begins regular service on Metroliner Service trains
- Adds five new state-supported trains - two Hiawatha frequencies, the Gulf Breeze, the Carolinian and an additional San Joaquin train
- Completes Automatic Train Control installation on all locomotives operating within the Northeast Corridor
- Accepts delivery of 58 Horizon cars
- Amtrak places among the top three railroads for safety performance in the industry's annual Harriman Awards competition
- July 26- President Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Amtrak's Metropolitan Lounge opens in Chicago
- Develops new 3-hour, 55-minute express service between Boston and New York
- Adds first class dining facilities to the Auto Train
- Travel agency sales account for about 40% of Amtrak ticket sales
- Rededicates Philadelphia 30th Street Station in June after a major renovation
- Completes Empire tunnel connection in New York, linking New York Penn Station with the Metro-North line running upstate. Empire Service trains shifted from Grand Central Station to Penn Station.
- Amtrak chosen to operate the new Virginia Railway Express commuter rail service (VRE begins service in 1992)
- For the first time in its history, Amtrak carries more commuter passengers than intercity passengers
- Amtrak and Metra join forces to complete the $32 million renovation of Chicago's Union Station and facilities.
- Amtrak's Metropolitan Lounges open at Philadelphia 30th Street Station and Washington Union Station
- January marks the first full month of Capitol Corridor trains in California, and by April, 100,000 people use the trains
- Delivery of 20 new diesel locomotives, P32-8BWH - first of the new generation of GE-built engines
- Attains 43% share of air-rail market between Washington, D.C. and New York
- Begins procurement process for an order of 26 high-speed train sets
- Sunset Limited extends east to Miami
- Received delivery of 22 P40 locomotives.
- Amtrak begins testing of the German ICE and Swedish X2000 trains on the Northeast Corridor; both operate at 135 mph and the ICE train reaches 162 mph. X2000 spends three months in revenue service, ICE train spends two months in service
- Viewliner order placed for 50 sleeping cars
- Begins operation of leased Talgo trains in partnership with Washington State Department of Transportation
- Completes first phase of modernization of New York's Penn Station Control Center
- Eight states increase financial support for Amtrak partnerships
- Amtrak headquarters is divided into three Strategic Business Units: Northeast Corridor, Intercity and West. A streamlined corporate headquarters remains in Washington, D.C.
- North Carolina inaugurates state-supported Piedmont service
- Introduces Vermonter service in partnership with the state of Vermont
- Begins program to upgrade Amfleet I cars with amenities such as 110V electric power for early laptop computers and accessible restrooms
- Formal groundbreaking ceremony for North End electrification, allowing faster speeds between New Haven and Boston
- During January blizzard, Amtrak is the only intercity mode to maintain service on the Northeast Corridor
- Introduces CPR and first aid training for crew members as part of annual emergency training curriculum
- Donates $2 million to inaugurate the Great American Station Foundation, set up to help communities repair and improve their train stations
- Ethan Allen Express debuts in December, providing the first direct rail service between New York and Rutland in forty years
- For the first time, an Amtrak service covers its operating costs -Metroliner Service generates $14 million.
- 190 self-service ticket machines in service nationwide
- To provide a smoke-free environment while still accommodating smokers, Amtrak introduces special self-contained ventilated smoking rooms on 59 long-distance cars
- Metroliner Service sets a ridership record
- Clears Ivy City yard to permit construction of high-speed rail maintenance facility in preparation for Acela Express
- Launches Amtrak.com, ushering the company into the internet age
- Delivery of 111 new P42 diesel locomotives
- Amtrak is up to 11 state partners
- Passenger revenue passes $1 billion for the first time in Amtrak's history
- Amtrak partners with nine states to propose the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative
- Launches Res2000 to improve station ticketing, reservations, customer information and accounting functions
- Consolidated National Operations Center (CNOC) opens in Wilmington, Delaware
- Renovates stations in Seattle, Centralia, Salem, and Sacramento
- After a 20-year absence, Amtrak reintroduces passenger service in Oklahoma with the Heartland Flyer
- Amtrak declares its computer systems "Y2K compliant"
- First rebuilt Amfleet cars emerge from the "Capstone" program, designed to enhance comfort, standardize equipment configurations, and comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Ridership on newly electrified regional service to Boston grows by 45% and revenue increases by 77%
- Online passenger ticket sales grow to $63 million, or 5.1% of total automated ticket sales
- Amtrak.com named "one of the most bookmarked sites on the web" by HotLinks
- Completes Northeast High-Speed Rail Improvement Project (NHRIP) to electrify the North End. First electrified service begins on January 31, when Train 131 runs from Boston to Washington, D.C. without changing power
- December 11- First Acela Express train set enters service
- In its first full year of limited operation, Acela Express carries approximately a million passengers.
- Just before the Thanksgiving rush, Amtrak launches "Julie," an automated voice response technology developed by "Speechworks" in Natick, Mass
- December 15- Amtrak inaugurates Downeaster Service between Portland, Maine and Boston
- Amtrak announces a reorganization, eliminating Strategic Business Units and duplicative functions
- U.S. Department of Transportation loan agreement to prevent Amtrak from filing for bankruptcy is signed
- Closes the year with another ridership record
- Silver Palm renamed Palmetto
- Repairs to Acela and HHP yaw damper brackets completed
- Downtown Richmond station opens for Tidewater service
- Amtrak closes the year with record ridership
- Introduces Acela Express "Quiet Car" service on weekends
- Amtrak and the state of Pennsylvania announce joint plans to improve and rehabilitate the Keystone Corridor, increasing speeds to 110 mph
- "Julie" ranked top voice response system by Speech Technology Magazine
- Introduced improved Acela Express schedules, and all weekend Northeast Corridor trains become reserved
- Amtrak and state of Wisconsin open Milwaukee General Mitchell Airport Station
- Administration proposes to "zero out" Amtrak for FY 2006 budget
- Sets third consecutive annual ridership record in FY 2005
- In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Amtrak suspends Sunset Limited service east of New Orleans indefinitely
- All Northeast Regional trains become all-reserved
- Clocker service (Philadelphia-New York) ends in October
- New auto carriers for Auto Train enter service
- November becomes the highest revenue month to date
- Amtrak signs agreements with Long Island Rail Road and Metropolitan Transportation Authority to support East Side Access project
- Launches Spanish-language Amtrak.com website
- Amtrak announces an estimated $60 million in savings through Strategic Reform Initiatives
- Amtrak Police Department focuses its efforts on "community policing," with higher levels of police presence at gates, on platforms and aboard trains
- California, Washington, Illinois and Pennsylvania launch additional state-supported Amtrak services
- Launches Great American Stations website to foster partnerships with local communities wishing to invest in their stations
- Quik-Trak machine wins "Best Travel and Hospitality Deployment" from KioskCom's Self Service Excellence Awards
- Amtrak wins "2007 Image of the Year Award" from the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors
- Begins at-seat cart and beverage service on some Acela Express trains
- Inauguration of eight new trains in Illinois; 28 downstate stops added
- Began electrified service on the Keystone Service; total number of trips rises from 11 to 14 with speeds now up to 110 mph
- November - a record Thanksgiving, the largest to date
- Congress passes Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) in October
- Initiates the deployment of Mobile Security Teams to patrol trains and conduct random screenings of passengers and carry-on baggage on the Northeast Corridor, Chicago and the West Coast
- Installs wind power generator and solar panels in Chicago yard to power signal system with renewable energy
- Washington Union Station celebrates its centennial anniversary
- Amtrak holds the first National Train Day on May 10
- Fourteen states contract with Amtrak for state-supported trains, representing nearly half of our daily departures.
- Complete the multiyear project to replace the Thames River Bridge lift span
- Renovated Milwaukee Intermodal Station and St. Louis Gateway Station open
- January 17- President-elect Barack Obama and Vice-President-elect Joe Biden travel from Wilmington, Delaware to Washington, D.C. onboard Amtrak to attend their inauguration
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $1.3 billion for investment in the Amtrak system and an additional $8 billion to fund a capital grant program for the states to develop intercity and high-speed passenger rail service
- Commonwealth of Virginia funds the extension of daily Northeast Regional Service to Lynchburg, bringing total number of states funding state-supported services to 15
- Commits to an aggressive program to install Positive Train Control technology on the Northeast Corridor and the Michigan Line by 2012
- Amtrak launches Mobility First program to make stations more accessible
- New or renovated stations open at Durham, Picayune, Saco, and Leavenworth,
- Safe-2-Safer initiative launched, to improve security and reduce injuries by developing a collaborative approach to safety and accident prevention.
- Amtrak's farebox recovery - 71 percent - is the highest reported among passenger and commuter railroads in the United States.
- White House Administration announces $7.92 billion award for high-speed and intercity passenger rail services in 31 states-nearly 60% of which will be invested in routes that are (or will become part of) the Amtrak system
- Debuts free Wi-Fi service at New York Penn Station, Washington Union Station, Boston South Station and Philadelphia 30th Street Station, as well as in Baltimore, Wilmington and on all Acela Express trains
- Heartland Flyer, running on 20% biodiesel fuel, becomes one of TIME Magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2010
- Amtrak unveils NextGen High-Speed Rail Study
- 10th anniversary of Acela Express
- Announces award of contract to purchase 130 new single level Sleeping, Dining, Baggage and Baggage-Dormitory cars
- Fourteen commuter agencies or state transportation agencies contract with Amtrak to provide passenger service or use portions of the Amtrak system and facilities
- Amtrak carried nearly 30.2 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2011; it was the best year ever for Northeast Regional service between Boston and Washington, DC.
- The 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train begins its year-long tour on National Train Day; it eventually visits 45 cities and welcomes more than 85,000 visitors.
- eTicketing pilot test introduced on the Downeaster service and the Auto Train.
- Amtrak receives $562.9 million RRIF loan from the FRA to purchase 70 new, energy efficient, high-performance Siemens electric locomotives for the Northeast and Keystone Corridors.
- "Amtrak Connect" Wi-Fi equipment installed on more than 450 Amfleet®; by the end of 2011, approximately 75 percent of all Amtrak passengers had access to free on-board Wi-Fi.
- Proposed “Gateway Project” announced—includes construction of two new rail tunnels between New Jersey and Manhattan, a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River, and other improvements.
- Enhancements to the Los Angeles and Hialeah rail equipment maintenance facilities improve working conditions for employees who service and perform safety inspections on the passenger rail cars used on long-distance routes and state-supported corridor services.
- Achieves regular speeds up to 110 mph on Amtrak-owned track between Kalamazoo, Mich. and Porter, Ind., as well as in Illinois between Pontiac and Dwight. These improvements are the result of partnerships with state and federal governments.
- Attains Climate Registered™ status by successfully measuring its carbon footprint according to The Climate Registry’s best-in-class program. With this status, Amtrak takes a major step toward reducing its energy usage, costs and carbon emissions.
- Establishes four Operations business lines—Northeast Corridor Services, Long-Distance Services, State Supported Services and Commuter Services—to provide clear accountability for the financial performance of individual trains and to improve customer service delivery.
- Implements eTicketing across the entire national network including the Northeast Corridor, state-supported routes and long-distance services.
- Launches new Amtrak History website and archives with digitized timetables, advertisements, route guides and other memorabilia that tell the company’s story.
- In partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, extends daily Northeast Regional service to Norfolk, Va, providing intercity passenger rail service to South Hampton Roads for the first time since 1977. Downeaster Service also expanded to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine.
- Following Hurricane Sandy, works quickly to reopen four of six flooded rail tunnels connecting Manhattan with the mainland. Storm surge caused them to flood for the first time since they were built in the early 20th century.
- Through the strong support of New York State, Amtrak signs a long-term lease agreement with CSX Corporation to take full control of the Hudson Line between Schenectady and Poughkeepsie, thereby ensuring that passenger rail service has scheduling priority while also paving the way for significant rail improvement projects.