May 1, 2013 Amtrak at 42: Fulfilling a National Mission

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Calls for dedicated, multi-year federal operating and capital funding

WASHINGTON – On May 1, 1971, Amtrak began operating as the nation’s intercity passenger rail service provider. Below is a statement from President and CEO Joe Boardman:

“As Amtrak celebrates its 42nd year as America’s Railroad®, we remain a vital part of the national transportation network and economy. With record ridership and strong financial performance, Amtrak is successfully fulfilling its national mission and daily demonstrating its value to the country.

“However, Amtrak has been underfunded and has too many conflicting missions with only year to year funding to plan, build and maintain safe infrastructure and provide national surface transportation mobility and connectivity. In addition, multiple layers of oversight have been added to what Congress intended to be a ‘private’ company that carries out public policy.

“It is time for dedicated, multi-year federal operating and capital funding for Amtrak and intercity passenger rail. Our customers and our nation have waited for 42 years too long already.

“If Congress provides predictable and needed levels of federal funding support, Amtrak and our state partners can better deliver a future of improved reliability, enhanced capacity, more service, increased speeds and reduced trip times on the Northeast Corridor and other passenger rail corridors around the country, including the development of new ones.

“Amtrak looks forward to proudly serving the nation in the years ahead.”

Visit the Amtrak History website to explore and learn more about America’s Railroad®.


  • Amtrak has set new ridership records in 9 of the last 10 years.
  • Amtrak carried an all-time record of 31,240,565 passengers in FY 2012.
  • Amtrak ridership is up 49 percent from FY 2000 to FY 2012.
  • Amtrak set a system-wide on-time performance record of 83 percent in FY 2012.

In the first six months of FY 2013 (Oct. 2012 – March 2013), Amtrak ridership is ahead of last year’s record pace with March having the highest ridership of any one month in the history of the railroad.


  • Amtrak had record ticket revenues of more than $2 billion in FY 2012.
  • Amtrak covered 88 percent of its Operating Costs in FY 2012 with ticket sales and other revenues, thereby reducing federal operating subsidies to just 12 percent.
  • Amtrak has cut its debt by 60 percent between FY 2002 and FY 2012.


  • The NEC supports more than 260 million intercity and commuter rail passengers each year.
  • In FY 2012, Amtrak had 76 percent of air-rail market share between Washington and New York.
  • In FY 2012, Amtrak had 54 percent of air-rail market share between New York and Boston.
  • Amtrak operates intercity passenger trains in partnership with 15 states to provide corridor service which connect with the Amtrak national network to expand mobility options.


  • Congress determined Amtrak should maintain a national passenger rail system and long-distance passenger rail is a vital and necessary part of the national transportation system and economy.
  • The reach of Amtrak is nationwide and it is increasingly important to states and communities that have been hit by intercity bus service contractions and cuts in air service.
  • Amtrak serves 40 percent of America’s rural population.
  • Of self-identified Amtrak passengers with disabilities, 43 percent ride long-distance trains.
  • Since 2010, for every dollar of federal investment, Amtrak placed nearly $3 back in the economy.


  • The highest imperative of federal passenger rail reauthorization legislation should be dedicated, multi-year operating and capital funding to support existing intercity passenger rail services and assets and the development of new ones.
  • The Amtrak Northeast Corridor Vision Plan dramatically expands intercity passenger rail service with more and faster trains operating up to 220 mph on new and improved infrastructure.

About Amtrak®

Amtrak is America’s Railroad®, the nation’s intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator. Amtrak and its state and commuter partners move people, the economy and the nation forward. Formally known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak is governed by a nine member board of directors appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Anthony R. Coscia is board chairman and Jeffrey R. Moreland is vice chairman. In FY 2014, nearly 31 million passengers traveled on Amtrak on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Enjoy the journey® at or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter (@Amtrak) and check out our blog at