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Railroad Information

This page is for those who love trains and the railroad.

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Some train information for USA travelers

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In the United States, passenger rail service is making a comeback. It's cost-effective and often faster than going by air. As a bonus, for most of us anyhow, there's no groping by TSA.

While usually referred to as Amtrak, the railroad's official name is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. Amtrak began service on May 1, 1971 when Clocker No. 235 departed New York Penn Station at 12:05 a.m. bound for Philadelphia. In 1971, Amtrak announced a schedule of 184 trains, serving 314 destinations.

When service began, Amtrak had 25 employees. Today, the company employs 22,000 people. Since the beginning, even-numbered trains have traveled north and east. Odd-numbered trains travel south and west. Among the exceptions are Amtrak's Pacific Surfliners, which use the opposite numbering system inherited from their former operator, the Santa Fe Railroad, and some Empire Corridor Trains.

 Amtrak serves more than 500 stations in 46 states. Those not included are Alaska, Hawaii, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Wyoming is served by Amtrak Thruway Motorcoaches.

Amtrak operates over more than 22,000 route miles. It owns 730 route miles, about 3 percent of the total nationwide, primarily between Boston and Washington, DC, and in Michigan. In other parts of the country, Amtrak trains use tracks owned by freight railroads. On weekdays, Amtrak operates up to 265 trains per day, excluding commuter trains. Amtrak trains operate every minute of the entire year.

The Auto Train, which travels between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida is the longest Amtrak passenger train with two engines and 40-plus rail cars.

  • At 1,480 feet, the platform at Amtrak's Auto Train station in Lorton, Virginia is longer than the Sears Tower.

  • At 2,768 miles, the Sunset Limited between Orlando and Los Angeles is the longest Amtrak intercity passenger train route.

  • At 86 miles, the Hiawatha, which travels between Chicago and Milwaukee, is Amtrak's shortest intercity passenger train route.

  • Passenger Cars: Amtrak operates 2,141 railroad cars including 168 sleeper cars, 760 coach cars, 126 first class/business class cars, 66 dormitory/crew cars, 225 lounge/café/dinette cars, and 92 dining cars. Baggage cars make up the remainder of the fleet.

  • Locomotives: Amtrak operates 425 locomotives -- 351 diesel and 74 electric.

  • 19 Acela Express trainsets currently provide high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston.

Amtrak owns three heavy maintenance facilities in Wilmington, and Bear, Delaware and Beech Grove, Indiana, and other maintenance facilities in Boston, Chicago, Hialeah, FL., Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Niagara Falls, Oakland, Rensselaer, NY, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Amtrak owns 17 tunnels consisting of 29.7 miles of track and 1,186 bridges consisting of 42.5 miles of track.

Amtrak is the nation's largest provider of contract-commuter service for state and regional authorities

Through its commuter services, Amtrak serves an additional 61.1 million people per year.

Amtrak currently provides commuter service for the following state and regional authorities:

  • Caltrain (California)

  • Coasters (California)

  • Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC)

  • Metrolink (California)

  • Shoreline East (Connecticut)

  • Virginia Railway Express (VRE)

Amtrak also provides maintenance services for the Sounder Commuter Rail system in the Seattle area.

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