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Historic Timeline

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1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
2010s
2020s


Sharing the Amtrak story with our customers and the American people is important to us. Each year brings new milestones to our rich history 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.


1970s

 

1970

  • October 30 – President Richard Nixon signs the Rail Passenger Service Act (RPSA), creating the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, later known as Amtrak, to take over the intercity passenger rail obligations belonging to private railroads.
  • December 30 – Eight original Incorporators of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation confirmed; David W. Kendall subsequently elected Chairman of the Board of Incorporators.


1971

  • Twenty railroads opt to participate in the formation of Amtrak, turning over their passenger services to the new company. Of those 20 railroads, Amtrak initially decides to operate passenger trains over 13. Some of the remaining seven railroads will eventually host Amtrak trains, while others, like the Central of Georgia Railway, will never host Amtrak service. ​
  • March 22 – Amtrak formally announces intended routes.
  • March 30 – Amtrak incorporated in Washington, D.C.
  • April 28 – Roger Lewis confirmed as the first president of Amtrak.
  • May 1 – Amtrak begins service with 184 trains a day and 323 stations. The first train operated by the new company is a Clocker that departs New York City for Philadelphia shortly after midnight.
  • May 10 – Trains 68/69, later known as the Lake Shore (New York-Chicago), became the first service added to the Amtrak Basic System. Although intended to be a State Supported train under Section 403 of the Rail Passenger Service Act, the states along the route do not provide the intended funding, and the train is discontinued in January 1972.
  • May 17 The first State Supported train, later known as the Bay State, begins operation between Boston and New York via the Inland Route through Worcester and Springfield, Mass. It receives financial support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1971: Amtrak begins operations on May 1.

  • June 5 – Introduces its first experimental service, a tri-weekly train (Trains 25/26, and later known as the North Coast Hiawatha) between Chicago and Seattle via southern Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana.
  • October 1 – Amtrak's first Reservations Sales Office opens in Chicago; it consolidates the separate reservation bureaus of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, Illinois Central, Burlington Northern, Penn Central and Milwaukee Road railroads, and the Chicago Union Station Company.
  • National advertising begins with the "We're Making the Trains Worth Traveling Again" marketing campaign.


1972

  • July 17 – Amtrak begins international service with the daily Pacific International (Seattle-Vancouver, B.C.).
  • October 29 – Daily service to Montreal, Quebec, is added to the map via the Washingtonian (southbound) / Montrealer (northbound) (Washington-New York-Montreal).
  • October 29 – First brand new station building opens in Cincinnati (known as the "River Road Station").
  • Debuts china designs on the Broadway Limited, and then on the Super Chief, Silver Meteor, Panama Limited, Merchants' Limited and Coast Daylight/Starlight.
  • State Supported 403(b) services operate with three state partners:
    • Massachusetts (Boston-Worcester-Springfield) - all year.
    • Illinois (Chicago-Quincy) - all year.
    • Pennsylvania (Philadelphia-Harrisburg) - begins October 29.


1973

  • January 27 – The Inter-American (Fort Worth-Laredo) makes its inaugural run, providing service to the Mexican border. A bus link allows for a connection to the Aztec Eagle (Nuevo Laredo-Mexico City).​
  • April 15 – Amtrak puts into service a new national computerized ticket reservation system, known as ARTS ("Amtrak Reservation and Ticketing System"). It replaces more than a dozen railroad reservation systems.
  • October – Orders from the Budd Company the first 57 of what is eventually nearly 500 Amfleet cars.
  • Congress passes the Amtrak Improvement Act and the Regional Rail Reorganization Act, mandating transfer of operation of the Northeast Corridor to Amtrak.
  • Amtrak begins to receive new SDP-40F diesel locomotives. Manufactured by General Motors, these 3,000 horsepower units are the first locomotives built expressly for Amtrak.
  • Lets a contract to specify and design new bi-level cars (later known as Superliners).

Amtrak Florida Poster
1973: Amtrak begins design process for new bi-level cars.

  • "Save Energy - Take Our Car" advertisements target consumers concerned about rising gas prices.
  • Operations department begins the gradual takeover of operations by establishing a system of regional superintendents.


1974

  • March 6 – Inaugurates the San Joaquin (San Francisco/Oakland-Bakersfield-(Los Angeles)), which operates through the San Joaquin Valley.
  • April Following the transfer of Onboard Service (OBS) employees from Penn Central,​ every OBS employee on every train throughout the nation is now an Amtrak employee. The company has 8,000 employees, up from 75 at the start of service in May 1971.​
  • June 13 – Making rail-to-bus and bus-to-rail connections becomes more seamless when Amtrak and Greyhound sign an interline agreement. By fall, a customer will be able to buy one combination ticket from any Amtrak or Greyhound agent.
  • September 15 – With the start of Blue Water (Chicago-Port Huron) revenue service, Michigan becomes the fifth state to partially finance Amtrak service under section 403(b) of the RPSA.
  • Places order for 11 trainsets with turbine-powered cars of French design (known as the Turboliners).
  • 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, Wash.
  • Order for 200 "Metroliner-type" (Amfleet) 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.


1975

  • March 1 – Paul Reistrup becomes the second president of Amtrak.
  • April – Purchases the Beech Grove, Ind., heavy maintenance facility from Penn Central (PC had been performing heavy overhauls of Amtrak equipment at Beech Grove since early 1972).
  • August 7 – The first of the new single-level Amfleet cars enter revenue service on the Statesman (Washington-Boston).
  • December – 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.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1975: The first Amfleet cars enter revenue service.

  • Orders 235 bi-level Superliner cars for Long Distance trains from the Pullman-Standard Company.


1976

  • January – Acquires the Penn Central passenger yard south of Chicago Union Station and launches a five-year rebuilding program.
  • January 15 – Amtrak is the first nationwide transportation company to offer a reservation system designed for deaf customers. The Central Reservations Office in Bensalem, Pa., begins operating two teletypewriters that can communicate with an estimated 10,000 deaf persons who have similar teletypewriters in their homes.
  • April 1 – Amtrak takes over the majority of the 457-mile Northeast Corridor (NEC) mainline running from Washington, D.C.-New York City-Boston. Amtrak will assume direct control of trains and track forces, dispatching, signaling and maintenance from Penn Central. The NEC purchase also includes 100+ railroad stations, maintenance shops and rail yards.
  • September 1 – California begins funding one roundtrip San Diegan between Los Angeles and San Diego, augmenting three existing roundtrips funded by Amtrak.
  • Both President Gerald Ford and presidential candidate Jimmy Carter make campaign trips aboard Amtrak trains.
  • Amtrak takes over maintenance facilities in Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mich., Buffalo, N.Y. and on the Northeast Corridor.
  • Receives and puts into service 30 F40PH locomotives.


1977

  • January 13 – Amtrak takes over the Los Angeles Eighth Street shop and yard complex from the Santa Fe Railway. Located about two miles south of Union Station, it is the busiest yard west of Chicago and is responsible for the last large fleet of steam-heated cars while the Amtrak system is being converted to all-electric operations.
  • March 31 – Amtrak and the federal government partner to kick off the $1.75 billion Northeast Corridor Improvement Project (NECIP) to modernize the mainline’s infrastructure including track, signaling systems, maintenance facilities and stations.
  • Issues five year improvement plan calling for purchase of new passenger cars and locomotives, modernization of stations and maintenance facilities, and track upgrading.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1977: The Northeast Corridor Improvement Project begins.

  • Three-fourths of Amtrak day service passengers travel in new cars, either Amfleet or Turboliners.
  • Implements automated Ticket-by-Mail (TBM) system.
  • Begins using pre-portioned servings, frozen meal items, automatic beverage dispensing and other modern food preparation methods.


1978

  • April 25 – Alan S. Boyd elected the third president of Amtrak.
  • July 25 – In Kingston, R.I., Amtrak demonstrates its new Track Laying System (TLS) to a group of reporters and government leaders. Comprised of a series of 15 machines including undercutters and tampers, the TLS can renew track (laying 1,200 ft/hour) three-and-a-half times faster than conventional methods. Amtrak had begun operating the machine a month earlier – the first time a TLS had been used in the U.S. ​
  • October 27 – Amtrak accepts the first Superliner car, a 77-seat coach, from Pullman Standard.
  • November 13 – Mickey Mouse celebrates his 50th birthday on Amtrak by starting a cross-country trip from Los Angeles to New York City. Mickey rides in private rail cars attached to the Southwest Limited, Cardinal and Minute Man. Fans greet the trains as they pass through 18 states. In Washington, D.C., Mickey is greeted by Amtrak President Alan Boyd before heading to the White House for a birthday party hosted by Amy Carter. ​
  • Launches the "We've Been Working on the Railroad" marketing campaign.
  • Makes interline agreements with 12 new carriers, increasing the number of cities served by such connections from 322 to 503.
  • Amtrak is the only railroad consistently meeting the industry's goal of 15 percent minority-owned business participation.
  • Launches the "We've Been Working on the Railroad" marketing campaign.


1979

  • February 1 – Begins operating the Crescent between New York and New Orleans via Atlanta. The service was turned over to Amtrak by Southern Railway (which had called it the Southern Crescent).
  • October 29 – Following discontinuance of the National Limited (New York/Washington-Kansas City), Missouri works with Amtrak to continue daily service across the state, linking its two largest cities, by funding an extension of the Chicago-St. Louis Ann Routledge to Kansas City. A second roundtrip is added in Oct. 1980: St. Louis Mule (eastbound) / Kansas City Mule (westbound).
  • Completes or rehabilitates 61 passenger stations.
  • Introduces Superliner I, the first new long-distance car in two decades, on the Empire Builder (Chicago-Seattle).
  • Receives special Congressional authorization of $23 million for the exclusive use of State Supported services.
  • Rehabilitates 121 miles of track, including the installation of 296,000 concrete ties and 74 miles of continuous welded rail.


1980s

 

1980

  • October 23 – BWI Rail Station in Maryland, located adjacent to Baltimore Washington International Airport, is dedicated as America's first intercity transportation center to bring together rail, air and ground transportation systems; revenue service begins on October 26.
  • December 1 – Chicago's passenger coach yards now only handle all-electric cars.
  • Introduces Superliners on three additional routes: Chicago-Oakland, Los Angeles-Ogden and Chicago-Los Angeles.
  • Orders 150 new Amfleet II cars (125 coaches and 25 food service cars), intended for Long Distance trains, 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" marketing campaign.
  • Establishes a System Safety Program to train and educate employees on workplace safety.
  • Begins testing leased LRC trainsets primarily on the Northeast Corridor.


1981

  • January – Amtrak debuts Express, an on-board general interest magazine that is first distributed on trains along the Northeast Corridor.
  • April 26 – Amtrak begins a partnership with VIA Rail Canada to launch the daily Maple Leaf (New York-Niagara Falls-Toronto). In a unique arrangement that continues today, Amtrak provides the equipment. Amtrak personnel oversee the train in the U.S., and once it clears customs and moves onto Canadian soil, VIA staff takes over.
  • October 26 – Track improvements allow Amtrak to offer Metroliner Express Service (Washington, D.C.-New York) trains that complete the trip in 2 hours, 59 "civilized" minutes. They only make stops at Baltimore and Philadelphia.
  • October 31 – Introduces Arrow, a new nationwide computerized reservation and ticketing system, which provides system functionality and reliability that reduces lost call volume to one percent of all customer calls received.
  • 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 Washington Union Station and Ivy City Yard to Union Station. Previously, CSX held a 50 percent interest.
  • "See America at See Level" marketing campaign launches.
  • Begins marketing its expertise at the Beech Grove maintenance facility to commuter agencies and the heavy equipment industry.
  • Completes a five-year, $44 million project to upgrade the 48-acre Chicago Yard and maintenance facility south of Union Station, which it had purchased from Penn Central in 1976. Amtrak constructs a new locomotive building; coach yard with servicing and storage tracks, platforms and electrical systems; commissary; and other structures.


1982

  • June 11 – W. Graham Claytor, Jr., named the fourth president of Amtrak.
  • Florida becomes the eighth state to participate in the 403(b) program, with the daily Silver Palm (Miami-Tampa).
  • Enhances on-board services including complimentary coffee/tea and newspaper for sleeping car passengers and additional entrees on the dinner menus.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1983: Amtrak begins Auto Train service.

  • Establishes a joint Labor/Management Productivity Council with a member from each labor organization representing employees, an equal number of non-union members, and a public chairman. It examines and recommends improvements in all areas related to productivity.
  • Fifty percent of total operating costs covered with revenue, three years ahead of a Congressional directive.


1983

  • July 15 – Reroutes the San Francisco Zephyr (Chicago-Cheyenne-Oakland/San Francisco) from Wyoming through Colorado, replacing the Rio Grande Zephyr (Denver-Salt Lake City), the last privately operated intercity passenger service in the U.S. Amtrak renames the new train, which now follows the scenic Colorado River, the California Zephyr.
  • October 30 – Begins tri-weekly Auto Train service (Lorton, Va. - Sanford, Fla.) to transport customers and their cars; it expands to daily operation the next year.
  • "All Aboard Amtrak" advertising campaign and fare plan begins, designed to acquaint the public with improvements to the system and passenger amenities.
  • Establishes an "On-Board Chief" program to place supervisors on Long Distance trains.
  • Launches the toll-free 1-800-USA-RAIL, making it possible for anyone, anywhere in the U.S., to make a train reservation or find out information about any Amtrak train 24 hours a day.
  • For the first time, the number of travel agents offering Amtrak tickets tops 10,000.
  • Major station rehabilitations underway at Baltimore, Wilmington, Trenton and Newark.


1984

  • Launches Teletrak, providing travel agents with an instant link to Amtrak sales agents.
  • Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road agree to share in modernizing New York Penn Station, including a state-of-the-art train control system and extensive improvements to 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 to date.


1985

  • May 20 – NBC's Today Show begins a five-day trip across the central U.S. via a special Amtrak train billed as the “Today Express.”
  • Begins offering tickets through the TWA and American Airlines ticket reservation systems.

    Amtrak Florida Poster
    1985: Enhancements on the Southwest Chief include
    route guides, games and movies.

  • 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-New York business travelers.
  • Amtrak takes over responsibility for the completion of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project from the Federal Railroad Administration.
  • During the first quarter of Fiscal Year 1986, Amtrak surpasses Eastern Airlines to become the leading carrier in the Washington-New York City air / rail market


1986

  • 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.
  • Completes first Viewliner prototype.
  • 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.


1987

  • 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.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1986: Viewliner prototypes completed at the Beech Grove Shops.

  • Introduces improved "Self ServeTicketing" machines at major stations that let customers buy a ticket or retrieve one for a reservation.
  • Introduces non-stop Metroliner Service between Washington, D.C. and New York, featuring complimentary newspapers and New York City subway tokens for sale.


1988

  • September 29 – Washington Union Station reopens to great fanfare following a two-year, $160 million rehabilitation project. At the time, it was one of the largest, most complex private-public partnerships ever undertaken in the U.S. Amtrak moves its corporate headquarters to the station.
  • Ticket sales by travel agencies increase by nearly 20 percent.
  • Introduces first computerized "yield management" system to handle ticket sales.
  • Introduces Superliner enhancements including movies, special menus and other amenities on the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited.


1989

  • Revenue on Northeast Corridor trains grows by more than 15 percent following the move into the restored Washington Union Station.
  • 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 non-stop Metroliner Service.


1990s

 

1990

  • May 12 – With financial support from the state of North Carolina, Amtrak initiates the Carolinian (New York-Raleigh-Charlotte). Linking the state’s financial hub and capital, the train is an outgrowth of an earlier trial service over the same route that operated from 1984-85.
  • August – Debuts its new Club Conference car, which is​ intended to attract business travelers on the popular Metroliner Service. It features a private conference room with seating for up to eight around a table, a whiteboard, video player, Railfone with speaker capability and variable lighting.
  • Opens its first Metropolitan Lounge, providing business service amenities, at New York Penn Station for sleeping car and Club Service passengers.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1990: With financial support from the state of North Carolina, Amtrak
    initiates the Carolinian (New York-Charlotte) in May.

  • 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.
  • President George H. W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act.


1991

  • April 7 – Completes the Empire Connection tunnel in New York City that links New York Penn Station with the Albany Line along the Hudson River. As a result, Empire Service trains and those serving other destinations north and west of the city shift from Grand Central Terminal to Penn Station.
  • June 14-16 – Rededicates Philadelphia 30th Street Station after a major renovation.
  • December 12 – Caltrans and Amtrak launch the Capitol Corridor service (San Jose – Sacramento), which later extends eastward to Auburn.
  • 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 percent of Amtrak ticket sales.
  • Receives P32-8BWH diesel locomotives, the first of a new generation of GE-built engines.
  • Amtrak chosen to operate the new Virginia Railway Express commuter rail service (VRE begins service in 1992)


1992

  • Amtrak and Metra complete a $32 million renovation of Chicago Union Station and facilities.
  • Metropolitan Lounges open at Philadelphia 30th Street Station and Washington Union Station.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1993: The X2000 visits Chicago during its national tour.

  • As Amtrak explores the development of high-speed rail, it begins testing the German ICE and Swedish X2000 trains on the Northeast Corridor; the former reaches 165 mph and the latter 155 mph. The X2000 spends five months in revenue service, the ICE train spends two months in service.


1993

  • For the first time, Amtrak-operated trains carry more commuter passengers (29.3 million) than intercity passengers (22.1 million), pointing to the company’s growing role as a service contractor to various state and regional transportation authorities.
  • Attains 43 percent share of air-rail market between Washington, D.C. and New York City.
  • Begins procurement process for an order of 26 high-speed trainsets.
  • Launches the “There’s Something About a Train That’s Magic” marketing campaign.
  • Extends the Sunset Limited east to Miami.
  • Receives 22 P40 locomotives.
  • Orders 50 Viewliner sleeping cars to replace 40-year-old cars used in the East.


1994

  • Begins operation of leased Talgo trains in partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation.
  • Completes the first phase of the New York Penn Station Control Center modernization.


1995

  • April 1 – Introduces daily Vermonter (Washington-New Haven-St. Albans) service in partnership with the state of Vermont. The daylight train replaces the overnight Montrealer (Washington-Montreal).
  • 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.
  • Launches Amtrak.com, ushering the company into the Internet age. The site offers information about Amtrak services, but not online booking capabilities.
  • North Carolina and Amtrak inaugurate the state-supported Piedmont (Raleigh-Charlotte).
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1996: Ground is broken for the electrification of the Northeast Corridor
    between New Haven, Conn., and Boston.

  • Begins a program to upgrade Amfleet I cars with amenities such as 110V electric power for early laptop computers and accessible restrooms.


1996

  • January – During a blizzard, Amtrak is the only intercity mode to maintain service in the Northeast.
  • July – Breaks ground for electrification of the North End, the 157-mile section of the Northeast Corridor between New Haven, Conn., and Boston. This will allow for faster speeds and eliminate the need to switch between diesel and electric locomotives at New Haven.
  • December Ethan Allen Express debuts, providing the first direct rail service between New York and Rutland, Vt., in 40 years.
  • As part of its emergency preparedness efforts, Amtrak introduces CPR and first aid training for Onboard Service members as part of its 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.
  • For the first time, an Amtrak service covers its operating costs – Metroliner Service generates $14 million.


1997

  • July – Upgrades to Amtrak.com allow customers to make reservations online.
  • December 11 – Amtrak President Thomas Downs resigns; George Warrington is appointed acting president.
  • 190 self-service ticket machines are 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.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    1997: New P-42 locomotives arrive and become the backbone of the
    long-distance fleet.

  • Metroliner Service sets a ridership record.
  • Clears Ivy City Yard to permit construction of a high-speed rail maintenance facility in preparation for Acela Express.
  • Receives 111 new P42 diesel locomotives from GE.
  • Amtrak is up to 11 state partners.


1998

  • March – Consolidated National Operations Center (CNOC) opens in Wilmington, Del. From this high-tech facility, open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, numerous work groups oversee the national Amtrak system.
  • December 21 – George Warrington, who had served as acting president since Dec. 1997, is named the sixth president of Amtrak.
  • 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.
  • Renovates stations in Seattle, Centralia, Wash., Salem, Ore., and Sacramento.


1999

  • June 15 – After a 20-year absence, Amtrak reintroduces daily passenger service in Oklahoma with the Heartland Flyer (Fort Worth-Oklahoma City). Oklahoma, which provides financial support for the train, was last served by the Lone Star (Chicago-Dallas/Houston), which was discontinued in 1979.
  • 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.


2000s

 

2000

  • January – Amtrak introduces a "Quiet Car" pilot on Train No. 151, the southbound NortheastDirect out of Philadelphia, at the urging of regular commuters. Passengers are asked to limit conversation, speak in subdued tones and not make phone calls. The cars' popularity spreads quickly, so that by June 2001, Amtrak adds a Quiet Car to nearly every weekday train, including Acela Express, between Washington, New York and Boston.
  • January 31 – First electrified service across the entire Northeast Corridor begins when Acela Regional No. 131 runs from Boston to Washington without changing power in New Haven, Conn.
  • June 1 The State of California and Amtrak unveil the new Pacific Surfliner brand to replace the San Diegan name for trains operating on the San Diego-Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo corridor. A month earlier, the partners introduced the first revenue train made up of new bi-level Surfliner cars – part of a $125 million investment. As Amtrak and the state increased frequencies and extended service north to Santa Barbara (1988) and then San Luis Obispo (1995), they sought ways to boost capacity and give the service a broader regional identity.
  • September – Launches Arrive magazine to deliver business, lifestyle and travel news that strengthens the Acela Express brand. Actress Melina Kanakaredes graces the first cover.
  • November 29 – Amtrak customers are introduced to an even more rewarding way to travel with the launch of the Amtrak Guest Rewards program. It allows them to earn points that can be redeemed for Amtrak reward travel, hotels, car rentals and more.
  • December 11 – First Acela Express trainset enters revenue service, ushering in a new age of high-speed rail for America. Amtrak initially offers one daily roundtrip between Washington and Boston with more frequencies added to the schedule as trainsets are delivered.
  • Ridership on newly electrified regional service to Boston grows by 45 percent and revenue increases by 77 percent.
  • Online passenger ticket sales grow to $63 million, or 5.1 percent of total automated ticket sales.
  • Amtrak.com is named "one of the most bookmarked sites on the web" by HotLinks.
  • Completes the Northeast High-Speed Rail Improvement Project (NHRIP) to electrify the North End.


2001

  • October 1 – Just before the Thanksgiving rush, Amtrak launches "Julie," an automated voice response technology developed by Speechworks that helps customers find train status; functionality later expands.
  • December 15 – Under contract with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, Amtrak inaugurates daily Downeaster (Boston-Portland) service, restoring passenger rail service to Maine for the first time since 1965.
  • In its first full year of limited operation, Acela Express carries approximately one million passengers.
  • Launches the “Arrive/Life on Acela” marketing campaign.


2002

  • February – Adds "Select" status to the Amtrak Guest Rewards program; it is the first of a set of tiers that create deeper connections with members in order to properly recognize them for their continuous loyalty.
  • May 15 – David Gunn becomes the seventh president of Amtrak.
  • 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 the Palmetto (New York-Miami) as the service becomes all coach.


2003

  • Repairs to Acela and HHP-8 locomotive yaw damper brackets completed.
  • Restores service to Main Street Station in downtown Richmond, Va., after a 28-year absence.
  • Amtrak closes the year with record ridership.


2004

  • Introduces Acela Express "Quiet Car" service on weekends.
  • Amtrak and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania announce joint plans to improve and rehabilitate the Amtrak-owned Harrisburg Line (Harrisburg-Philadelphia).
  • A new 22-acre, $71 million equipment servicing and maintenance complex built by Amtrak and the state of California opens in Oakland. Skilled employees service equipment used on the California Zephyr, San Joaquins and Capitol Corridor trains.
  • "Julie" is ranked a top voice response system by Speech Technology magazine.
  • Introduces improved Acela Express schedules, and all weekend trains on the Northeast Corridor become reserved.


2005

  • January 18 – The award-winning General Mitchell Airport station in Milwaukee opens as one of only a handful in the Amtrak system that offers direct access to an airport.


2006

  • August 29 – Alexander Kummant appointed as the eighth president of Amtrak.
  • October 30 – Amtrak and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania celebrate the inaugural run of newly restored electrified, high-speed service on the 104-mile Harrisburg Line connecting the state capital with Philadelphia. It is the result of the Keystone Corridor Improvement Project, which also allows for top speeds of 110 mph, 90-minute express service for some trips, and an increase in weekday trains.
  • October 30 – State Supported services between Chicago and downstate Illinois double from three roundtrips to seven as the state invests in additional frequencies following record ridership in Fiscal Year 2006. The expansion includes an additional roundtrip on the Chicago-Carbondale line (Saluki) and Chicago-Quincy line (Carl Sandburg), and two additional roundtrips on the Chicago-St. Louis line (Lincoln Service).
  • November becomes the highest revenue month to date.
  • Amtrak signs agreements with Long Island Rail Road and Metropolitan Transportation Authority to support the East Side Access project.
  • Launches Spanish-language Amtrak.com website.
  • Announces an estimated $60 million in savings through Strategic Reform Initiatives.
  • Amtrak Police Department focuses on "community policing," with more police presence at gates, on platforms and aboard trains to assist customers and Amtrak Station and Onboard Service employees.


2007

  • November – A record Thanksgiving, the largest to date.
  • Launches the Great American Stations website to foster partnerships with Amtrak-served 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 the "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.


2008

  • May 10 – Amtrak holds the first National Train Day.
  • October 16 – Congress passes the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), which lays out Amtrak’s mission for the next decade.
  • Initiates the deployment of Mobile Security Teams to patrol trains and conduct random screenings of passengers and carry-on baggage on the Northeast Corridor, in Chicago and on the West Coast.
  • Installs a wind power generator and solar panels to power switches in the Chicago Yard with renewable energy. Chicago is the first location in the Amtrak system to utilize wind power.
  • Fourteen states contract with Amtrak for State Supported trains, representing nearly half of Amtrak's daily departures.
  • Completes the multiyear project to replace the Thames River Bridge lift span on the Northeast Corridor in Connecticut.
  • Renovated Milwaukee Intermodal Station and St. Louis Gateway Station open.


2009

  • January 17 – President-elect Barack Obama and Vice-President-elect Joe Biden travel from Wilmington, Del., to Washington, D.C., aboard an Amtrak charter train to attend their inauguration.
  • October 1 – With funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia, one daily roundtrip Northeast Regional trip begins operating between Washington, D.C., and Lynchburg; earlier in the year, Virginia had become the fifteenth state to partner with Amtrak to operate State Supported trains. The new service is part of a three-year pilot program that will also include new Washington-Richmond service starting in July 2010.
  • 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.
  • Commits to an aggressive program to install Positive Train Control technology on the Northeast Corridor and the Michigan Line by 2012.
  • Amtrak launches the Mobility First program to make stations more accessible.
  • New or renovated stations open at Durham, N.C., Picayune, Miss., Saco, Maine, and Leavenworth, Wash.
  • Safe-2-Safer initiative launches 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.


2010s

 

2010

  • March 1 – Amtrak debuts complimentary Wi-Fi service at major stations in the Northeast and on all Acela Express trains.
  • Obama Administration announces $7.92 billion award for high-speed and intercity passenger rail services in 31 states-nearly 60 percent of which will be invested in routes that are (or will become part of) the Amtrak system.
  • Heartland Flyer (Fort Worth-Oklahoma City), running on 20 percent biodiesel fuel, becomes one of TIME Magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2010.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    2010: The Heartland Flyer runs on 20 percent biodiesel fuel.

  • Amtrak unveils NextGen High-Speed Rail Study.
  • Announces award of contract to purchase 130 new single-level sleeping, dining, baggage and baggage-dormitory cars for use on eastern Long Distance trains.
  • Fourteen commuter agencies or state transportation agencies contract with Amtrak to provide passenger service or use portions of the Amtrak system and facilities

2011

  • April 4 – Amtrak announces the “Gateway Program,” a comprehensive suite of strategic rail infrastructure improvements in the New York City area. It proposes to increase track, tunnel, bridge and station capacity, eventually creating four mainline tracks between Newark, N.J., and New York Penn Station, including a new, two-track Hudson River Tunnel.
  • Amtrak carries nearly 30.2 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2011; it is the best year to date 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.
  • Introduces the “You Have the Right” marketing campaign to promote Acela Express.
  • The Amtrak Guest Rewards program reaches 3 million members.
  • eTicketing pilot test introduced on the Downeaster (Boston-Portland) and the Auto Train (Lorton, Va. - Sanford, Fla.).
  • Amtrak iPhone app launches, with an Android app set for the following year.
  • Amtrak receives a $562.9 million RRIF loan from the Federal Railroad Administration to purchase 70 new, energy efficient, high-performance Siemens electric locomotives for the Northeast Corridor and Harrisburg Line.
  • "Amtrak Connect" Wi-Fi equipment installed on more than 450 Amfleet cars; by the end of 2011, approximately 75 percent of all Amtrak passengers have access to free on-board Wi-Fi.
  • 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.

2012

  • May 7 – Moves the Mid-Atlantic Centralized Electrification and Traffic Control (CETC) function from Philadelphia 30th Street Station to the dispatching center at the Consolidated National Operations Center in Wilmington, Del.
  • July 30 – Implements eTicketing across the entire national network including Northeast Corridor, State Supported and Long Distance services.
  • Late October-Early November – Following Hurricane Sandy, Amtrak works quickly to reopen four of six rail tubes in tunnels connecting New York Penn Station – and Manhattan – with the mainland and Long Island. Storm surge causes them to flood for the first time since they were built in the early 20th century.
  • December 12 – 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.
  • 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.
  • Launches new Amtrak History website and archives with digitized timetables, advertisements, route guides and other memorabilia that tell the company’s story.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    2014: New Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotives enter revenue service.

  • 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.
  • Announces that in FY 2012, Amtrak covered 88 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenue.

 

2013

  • January 1 – Amtrak introduces the “Select Executive” tier within Amtrak Guest Rewards for members who earn 20,000 or more qualifying points in the calendar year.
  • February – New “Take Off” marketing campaign promotes Acela Express. Digital, print and television components use headlines such as “Please Continue to Use All Electronic Devices” and “Today’s Trip is Full of Leg Room.”
  • April 29 – Auto Train passengers gain the opportunity to purchase Priority Vehicle Offloading which guarantees that a vehicle will be one of the first 20 offloaded from the train.
  • June 26 – Sets a goal that 25 percent of all new hires by 2015 should be military veterans.
  • June 26 – Unveils a specially painted locomotive, P-42 No. 42, to honor all American veterans. The red, white and blue paint scheme includes a special “America’s Railroad Salutes Our Veterans” logo.
  • October 15 – Negotiates contracts with 18 states through 19 agencies to increase state control and funding of 28 passenger rail routes (750 miles or less) under the provisions of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008.
  • November 15 – The Heartland Flyer (Fort Worth-Oklahoma City) marks its one-millionth passenger, represented by university student Rooke Jackson of Oklahoma City.
  • Announces upgrades in May to the AmtrakConnect cellular-based Wi-Fi service to take advantage of 4G technologies.
  • Expands Safe-2-Safer program by establishing 28 steering committees that work to remove approximately 700 safety barriers across the Amtrak system.
  • Completes reorganization of the Operations department into three new business lines: State Supported Services; Northeast Corridor Services; and Long Distance Services.

 

2014

  • JanuaryRailway Age magazine names Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman its 51st “Railroader of the Year.” W. Graham Claytor Jr. was the last Amtrak chief executive to win this award, in 1989.
  • February 7 – Locomotive No. 600 becomes the first Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) to enter revenue service, leading Northeast Regional train No. 171 from Boston to Washington.
  • February 10 – Amtrak provides Wi-Fi coverage to about 85 percent of passengers with the launch of AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi service on eight key State Supported routes in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.
  • March – In conjunction with Draftfcb, develops new advertising campaigns for Long Distance and Northeast Regional trains. The former showcase train amenities and included the sign-off “Making 500 destinations a far better ride.” The latter campaign promotes Northeast cities by symbolically showcasing the train arriving in the middle of the action.
  • June 11 – Amtrak launches a Chinese-language version of its website (zh.amtrak.com) to serve as a resource for the increasing number of Chinese-speaking residents of and visitors to the United States.
  • September 24 – Selects 24 members of the literary community as the first group of writers to participate in the #AmtrakResidency program. Over the next year, they work on writing projects of their choice in the unique workspace of a Long Distance train.
  • December 29 – Switches the route of the Vermonter to the Connecticut River Line (Knowledge Corridor) in western Massachusetts. Consequently, new stations open in Northampton and Greenfield, Mass. (and later in Holyoke), while the Amherst stop is discontinued.
  • New and rehabilitated stations open in Denver, Colo.; St. Paul, Minn.; Anaheim, Calif.; Dearborn, Mich.; Winter Park, Fla.; and Longview, Texas.
  • Amtrak increases Thruway bus connections along the Gulf Coast and in Montana, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
  • In FY 2014 (Oct. 2013 - Sep. 2014), Amtrak carries 30.9 million passengers and earns $2.2 billion in ticket revenue.

 

2015

  • March 30 – Amtrak is named to the first-ever “America’s Best Employers” list issued by Forbes magazine.
  • June – Train dispatchers in New England now work out of a brand new facility at Boston South Station that incorporates energy-efficient technology, new equipment and customized workstations.
  • July 23 – Unveils a prototype retractable setback-shuttle platform at the Ann Arbor, Mich., station. The platform, which mechanically extends toward the train, bridges the gap created when a level-boarding platform is needed. The prototype will remain in use for a two-year test period.
  • September 14 – The Marketing department launches the new Master Brand advertising campaign: “500 Destinations, Infinite Stories.” It is created in coordination with advertising agency FCB Garfinkel.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    2015: Amtrak expands walk-on/walk-up bicycle service.

  • October 1 – A cost allocation policy, a key requirement of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (Section 212), becomes effective. Developed by the Northeast Corridor Commission, which includes representatives of Northeastern states, the U.S. DOT and Amtrak, the policy creates a formula by which Amtrak and commuter operators will contribute operating and capital funds to the Northeast Corridor.
  • October 1 – A Blue Ribbon Panel appointed by Amtrak releases a report that provides recommendations to eliminate “Chicago Gateway” delays to passenger and freight traffic. Recommendations include co-located dispatchers, improved operating practices and funding for priority projects already identified in northern Illinois and Indiana.
  • December 4 – The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (P.L. 114-94), becomes law. For the first time in transportation legislative history, intercity passenger rail and Amtrak reauthorization language are included as part of a multimodal transportation bill.
  • December 17 – Shifts the route of the Texas Eagle between Fort Worth and Dallas to tracks shared with Trinity Rail Express commuter trains, thereby avoiding congested freight train operations.
  • December – Amtrak achieves its goal of hiring veterans as 25 percent of all new hires between 2013 and the end of 2015.
  • December – Amtrak activates Positive Train Control, a safety technology designed to match train speed to track conditions for improved safety, on track between New York and Washington, D.C. This completes PTC installation on most Amtrak-owned infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor mainline between Washington and Boston.
  • Increases the number of trains that offer walk-up/walk-on bike service to also include the Capitol Limited, Carolinian, Heartland Flyer, Crescent and Silver Service.
  • New and rehabilitated stations open in Tukwila, Wash.; Holyoke, Mass. (new Vermonter station); Sandpoint, Idaho; Galesburg, Ill.; Claremont, N.H.; Orlando, Fla.; and Salinas, Calif.
  • In FY 2015 (Oct. 2014 - Sep. 2015), Amtrak carries 30.9 million passengers and earns $2.2 billion in ticket revenue.

 

2016

  • January 11 – Amtrak announces that the Winter-Spring 2016 Amtrak System Timetable will be the last printed version published and distributed; focus shifts to a digital timetable.
  • March – Introduces a new Student Discount that gives students ages 17-25 a 15 percent discount on the lowest available Value Fares all year long.
  • June 16 – Amtrak, PennDOT and partners unveil the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan, which envisions 40 new acres of open space and 18 million square feet of new development around the station, including a new mixed-use neighborhood atop 88 acres of rail yards.
  • June 20 – Amtrak and the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority add a seventh daily San Joaquins roundtrip.
  • August 26 – Announces a contract with Alstom to produce 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets that will replace the equipment used to provide Amtrak’s premium Acela Express service. The contract is part of $2.45 billion that will be invested on the Northeast Corridor as part of a multifaceted modernization program.
  • August – Amtrak Cities Sprinter (ACS-64) locomotive No. 670 enters revenue service, marking delivery of the 70th and final ACS-64.
  • September 1 – Charles W. "Wick" Moorman IV becomes the tenth president of Amtrak. Mr. Moorman had retired as chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern Corporation in 2015.
  • October 1 – Unveils The National, its first national on-board magazine.
  • October – Amtrak is the first railroad to earn a five-year accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.
  • November 7 – In partnership with the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency, state of California and BNSF Railway, adds two daily frequencies to the Pacific Surfliner service.
  • Popular programs allowing customers to easily bring their small cats and dogs and bicycles onboard (without needing to box and check bicycles as baggage) expand to most Long Distance and State Supported trains.
  • In FY 2016 (Oct. 2015 - Sep. 2016), Amtrak carries 31.3 million customers and earns $2.14 billion in adjusted ticket revenue.

 

2017

  • January 7 – Amtrak launches the seasonal Amtrak Winter Park Express, linking Denver Union Station directly to the slopes of the famed Winter Park Resort in the Rockies.
  • July 1 – As of this date, more than 7 million members are enrolled in the Amtrak Guest Rewards program.
  • July 10 – Begins a major infrastructure renewal program at New York Penn Station, which accelerates important construction work. This initial phase, completed on Sept. 5, focuses on “A Interlocking” and includes installation of nearly 900 track ties, 1,100 feet of rails, seven turnouts and four complex diamond crossings. Amtrak and commuter train schedules are modified during the work period, with some Empire Service trains using Grand Central Terminal.
  • Amtrak Florida Poster
    2017: Amtrak begins a refresh of the Amfleet I cars.

  • July 12 – Richard Anderson becomes the eleventh president of Amtrak, and serves as co-CEO with Wick Moorman (who steps down as co-CEO on Dec. 31). Mr. Anderson spent 25 years in the aviation industry, where he served as the CEO of Delta Air Lines from 2007 to 2016.
  • September 7 – Announces an extensive refresh of the train interiors on the approximately 450 Amfleet I cars used on more than a dozen popular services in the Northeast and Midwest.
  • September 12 – Launches a new national advertising campaign that urges travelers to “Break the Travel Quo.” Going head-to-head against some of the pain points of modern day travel, it reminds consumers that Amtrak is a far easier, more comfortable and convenient way to travel. The campaign is created in coordination with FCB New York.
  • September 25 – Amtrak Police, Operation Lifesaver and local, state, federal and railroad law enforcement officers team up for "Operation Clear Track,” the largest simultaneous railroad safety law enforcement operation ever assembled in the U.S.
  • October 2 – Unveils the “Ready to Build” campaign, which showcases critical bridge, tunnel and station investments that are vital to the realization of a renewed, modern passenger rail system.
  • Autumn – New Siemens Charger (SC-44) diesel locomotives capable of speeds up to 125 mph are introduced on State Supported routes in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Purchased by a consortium of states, the units are maintained by Amtrak.
  • Completes “Project unITy,” a corporate-wide effort to integrate, simplify and centralize technology and data services among Amtrak’s national workforce.
  • New and rehabilitated stations open in Sacramento, Calif.; Alton, Carlinville, Lincoln and Pontiac, Ill.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Wallingford and Meriden, Conn. In addition, on Oct. 31, Amtrak, Virginia and the city of Roanoke celebrate the return of intercity passenger rail – via the Northeast Regional – to the “Star City” after a 38-year absence.
  • In FY 2017 (Oct. 2016 - Sep. 2017), Amtrak carries 31.7 million customers and earns $2.24 billion in ticket revenue.

 

2018

  • January – Amtrak begins dispatching trains on the 231-mile corridor between Porter, Ind., and Dearborn, Mich., which is jointly owned by Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Thanks to federal funding, MDOT made improvements to the line for more efficient operations.
  • March – Amtrak begins accepting Diners Club International, JCB and UnionPay credit cards, making it easier for international customers to pay for Amtrak services. The previous year, Amtrak served visitors from 195 countries.
  • May 26 – As part of Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station, crews replace and upgrade track on the Empire Tunnel/Connection; update mechanical and electrical equipment on the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge damaged during Superstorm Sandy; and renew turnouts, track and ties on Track 19. As a result, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express trains are rerouted to Grand Central Terminal through Sept. 3 (Lake Shore Limited customers transfer at Albany-Rensselaer).
  • May – Publishes the last issue of Ink, its print magazine for employees; internal corporate news migrates to all-digital platforms.
  • Amtrak Downeaster train at Boston North Station
    2018: All weekday Downeaster roundtrips now operate between
    Boston and Brunswick, Maine.

  • May – Begins a 14-month, $4 million refresh of Acela Express train interiors to include new cushions, seat covers and carpet.
  • June 4 – Adds a third frequency to the daily Piedmont service (Raleigh-Charlotte) in partnership with North Carolina.
  • June 16 – With the Connecticut Department of Transportation, launches additional Amtrak service on the Springfield Line and assists the state in its implementation of CTrail Hartford Line Service.
  • November 12 – Amtrak and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority now operate all five Downeaster weekday roundtrips between Boston and Brunswick (rather than terminating some trains at Portland).
  • December 21 – Awards an $850 million contract to Siemens Mobility for 75 new Tier 4 passenger diesel locomotives and associated services. The units will offer the latest safety systems, have 4,400 horsepower and be capable of speeds up to 125 mph.
  • December – By the end of the year, all Amtrak-owned or controlled track has Positive Train Control (PTC) in operation except approximately four miles of slow-speed track in the complex Chicago and Philadelphia terminal areas. Amtrak trains also operate with PTC on approximately 16,600 miles of host railroad-controlled track.
  • Reaches new seven-year labor contracts with all unions providing reasonable wage increases for employees and medical plan cost control.
  • Implements a Safety Management System (SMS), a proactive risk management system which builds on predictive safety management methods. Amtrak is the first major U.S. railroad to deploy SMS.
  • Manufacturing begins for the new Acela trainsets at the Alstom facility in Hornell, N.Y.
  • During FY 2018 (Oct. 2017 – Sep. 2018), Amtrak customers take 31.7 million trips.
  • Amtrak posts record GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) revenue of $3.4 billion, an increase of 2.5 percent over FY 2017; adjusted operating earnings of ($170.6 million) are the best to date and an 11.9 percent improvement over the prior year.

 

2019

  • January 18 – Amtrak releases a Request for Proposals for a new fleet of single-level passenger rail vehicles to replace Amfleet I cars, providing new equipment with contemporary amenities to better serve customers.
  • April 24 – Introduces “Share Fares” as a way for customers to save up to 35 percent on tickets when traveling with up to four companions. In August, Share Fares are expanded to offer savings up to 45 percent for six traveling companions.
  • April – Launches the “Get Carried Away” marketing campaign to remind customers that traveling on an Amtrak train is not just about the destination—it is about the experience in between. The national campaign includes advertising placements on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, radio and digital display banners on hundreds of websites.
  • May 14 – Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT announce a joint $31 million investment to improve railroad infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey and to conduct renewal work throughout spring and summer 2019 as part of their ongoing partnership. The work includes block tie replacement at Newark Penn Station, timber deck replacement on the Portal Bridge and timber and switch replacement at Fair Interlocking in Trenton.
  • August 30 – In conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Amtrak launches the Valley Flyer, a new State Supported train offering daily service between Greenfield, Mass., and New Haven, Conn.
  • September 23 – Launches Acela Nonstop service, offering direct service between Washington, D.C., and New York City. The weekday-only schedule includes one southbound and one northbound train per day with an approximate trip time of two hours and 35 minutes. Amenities include complimentary coffee, tea, bottled water and at-seat cashless cart service.
  • September 24 – The Amtrak Police Department and Operation Lifesaver, Inc. mobilize more than 600 police and sheriff’s departments across the country for “Operation Clear Track,” the largest railroad safety detail in the United States. Officials report to more than 1,500 railroad grade crossings to enforce state grade crossing and trespassing laws, issue citations and warnings to violators, and distribute pocket safety cards.
  • September – Updates the Amtrak mobile app to make bookings and travel management effortless. Version 4.0 brings significant enhancements to meet customers’ needs, including: save credit card information for quick checkout, book on the app using Amtrak Guest Rewards points and book Auto Train tickets directly from the app.
  • October 1 – Amtrak expands flexible dining service for sleeping car customers to the Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Crescent and Silver Meteor. A new dining menu features hot, ready-to-serve choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary room service and flexible dining times without the need for reservations.
  • Amtrak continues its Infrastructure Renewal Program at New York Penn Station by completing state-of-good-repair work on the JO interlocking, which directs trains heading east and west from the East River Tunnels.
  • During FY 2019 (Oct. 2018 – Sep. 2019), Amtrak customers take 32 million trips.
  • Amtrak delivers its best operating performance to date in FY 2019. It posts record GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) revenue of $3.5 billion and adjusted operating earnings of ($29.4 million). Amtrak recovers 99.1 percent of operating costs in FY 2019 with ticket sales, payments from state partners and agencies, and other operating revenue.
  • Invests $713 million in state-of-good-repair projects including the repair or replacement of 24,080 feet of catenary hardware, 79,985 concrete ties, 1,784 bridge ties and 283 miles of high-speed surfacing.
  • New and rehabilitated stations open in Paoli, Pa., Lawrence, Kan., and Creston, Iowa. Amtrak also moves its operations into the restored Springfield Union Station (Mass.).

 

2020s

 

2020

  • February 17 – The first of the 28 new Acela trainsets, without its interiors installed, leaves the Alstom facility in Hornell, N.Y., for high-speed testing at the Transportation Technology Center (TTC) near Pueblo, Colo. Throughout the year, prototype trains are tested on the Northeast Corridor and at the TTC, where they top 20,000 miles (32,186 km) on the test track and reach a speed of 166.8 mph (268.4 kph).
  • March – As a result of the dramatic reduction in travel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amtrak begins to adjust and reduce schedules for services across its network. Operations north of the U.S.-Canada border are suspended due to closure of the border. State Supported train schedules are modified based on guidance from state partners.
  • April 15 – William J. Flynn, appointed by the Amtrak Board of Directors, assumes the role of chief executive officer. He is the twelfth executive to lead America’s Railroad® and has four decades of transportation and logistics experience. He most recently served 13 years with Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc., as president and CEO and board chairman.
  • August – Amtrak completes installation and implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC), a safety technology designed to match train speed to track conditions for improved safety, on all Amtrak-owned or controlled tracks (898 route-miles).
  • September 15 – The new Amtrak Employee Safety Rulebook goes into effect and applies to all Amtrak employees. It consolidates seven existing rulebooks, allowing for universal application of fundamental safety expectations across the company and aligning safety practices with corporate and industry best practices.
  • October 5 – Amtrak begins to temporarily reduce many Long Distance routes from daily to tri-weekly service to better align capacity with lower travel demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • October 28 – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), through its Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program, awards grants to Amtrak and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT). They will support replacement of the century-old Amtrak-owned Connecticut River Bridge (1907) and the CTDOT-owned Walk Bridge (1896).
  • December 1 – Amtrak introduces the first four Viewliner II sleeping cars into revenue service on the Silver Meteor and Silver Star. The launch represents the first addition to the sleeping car fleet in more than two decades.
  • December 1 – Metrolink, Southern California’s commuter rail service, awards Amtrak a four-and-a-half-year contract for commuter train operations services that will begin on January 1, 2021. Amtrak will provide and manage engineers and conductors to operate Metrolink trains.
  • December – To enhance the customer experience, Amtrak offers new digital payment options including Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal.
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amtrak sets a new standard of travel in an effort to simplify and safeguard the travel experience for customers and employees. Several cleaning, contact-free and convenience measures are implemented, including enhanced cleaning protocols, limited bookings to allow for more physical distancing on most trains and a requirement for all customers and employees to wear a face mask while on board and in stations.
  • Amtrak invests a record $109 million on ADA-related design and construction improvement projects at more than 159 locations nationwide, advancing efforts to make stations universally accessible.
  • Implements initiatives to improve diversity, inclusion and belonging. Amtrak hosts listening sessions with employees, creates a Diversity & Inclusion Council and makes significant changes to its hiring practices.
  • During FY 2020 (Oct. 2019 – Sep. 2020), Amtrak customers take 16.8 million trips, a year-over-year decrease of 15.2 million passengers, owing to pandemic-related travel demand reductions.
  • In FY 2020, Amtrak earns approximately $2.4 billion in GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) revenue and incurs approximately $5.0 billion in capital and operating expense. Amtrak recovers 74% of operating costs with ticket sales, payments from state partners and agencies, and other operating revenue.