WASHINGTON – More than 250 communities in every state celebrated the importance of trains to their town at National Train Day on May 11, 2013, a record for the annual event conceived by Amtrak six years ago.
This year’s events celebrated the theme “Trains Matter,” and the importance of passenger and freight trains in connecting towns, employing residents and serving as an engine of economic development.
Demand for intercity passenger rail is growing, with a record 31.2 million passengers riding Amtrak trains last year. As intercity bus and air service disappear from rural America, Amtrak trains remain as a vital transportation lifeline. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of Americans who no longer have access to intercity bus or air service, and are served only by Amtrak, tripled in just five years.
Trains provide mobility and connectivity, employ more than 200,000 people and move the national and global economies. Freight shipping, energy resources and passengers are transported via the nation’s rail system, playing a vital role in world trade. Train stations are natural activity hubs that can greatly aid in downtown revitalization by including space for community, cultural and commercial uses that attract a wide array of visitors.
National Train Day events featured varied activities including train equipment displays, a Chuggington Kids Depot with train-themed kids’ activities based on the popular children’s animated television series on Disney Junior, an HO scale operating model train provided by Walthers, and other train-themed displays. Many events featured local dignitaries including city mayors (see attachment with statements from local dignitaries).
Quotes from local dignitaries:
Mayor Richard J. Berry, Albuquerque, N.M.: “In Albuquerque, our Transit Department partnered with Rio Metro Regional Transit District to make National Train Day even more of must-attend event,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “ The activity around Albuquerque’s The Great Bus Race helped focus even more attention on an already popular event that saw the first-ever appearance of Amtrak’s Exhibit Train in the area.”
Mayor AC Wharton, Jr., City of Memphis, Tenn.: “Trains are a vital part of our community. We are located at the crossroads of this great country and hold a true competitive advantage when it comes to moving commercial freight with one of the nation’s busiest cargo airports, five class I rail services moving through Memphis, the confluence of the nation’s busiest interstate highways and a river port aiding barge traffic on the Mississippi River. We are always looking for ways to expand our same footprint that will grow the passenger service through Memphis and increase our passenger transportation options for rail, air, road and river. Rail travel is a time honored, excellent option for travel and one that we value in Memphis.”
Mayor Mark Mallory, Cincinnati, Ohio: “Trains are fun, but they also play a big role in Cincinnati’s history. We are the only city to build our own railroad, and we own it to this day. It brings in $18 million a year that helps to pay for projects throughout the city. Every year, National Train Day is a great way to learn more about Cincinnati’s train history and about the importance of modern passenger train service,” Mayor Mark Mallory said.
Mayor Steve Williams, Huntington, W.V.: “Obviously, I am extremely pleased with the community support of Huntington’s first National Train Day celebration,” said Huntington, W.V., Mayor Steve Williams. “Huntington was founded as a western terminus of the C&O railroad in 1871 and continues its rich railroad tradition today with the Amtrak Cardinal.”
Mayor Johnny Dupree, Hattiesburg, Miss.: “Train service is essential to Hattiesburg, as our city was built around the railroad industry. National Train Day exposed our children to the history and opportunity of train travel, while reacquainting others with the service, hopefully resulting in the increased use of passenger rail as a mode of transportation.”
Sen. Kevin de León, California: “Railroads are as important to our California history as the Gold Rush, they’re the engines that made the West great and that history continues today,” said California State Senator Kevin de León. “Los Angeles’ National Train Day celebration provided thousands of people with the opportunity to learn more about Amtrak’s equipment and services, along with the numerous mobility and economic development benefits trains provide.”
City Councilman Steve Cohn, Sacramento, Calif.: “Sacramento was pleased to join Amtrak in celebrating National Train Day at the California State Railroad Museum,” said Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn. “Sacramento has a glorious and shared history with railroads from the Gold Rush in 1849 and the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 to the present day. For nearly a century, the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Central Shops – today’s Downtown Sacramento Railyards — were the region’s biggest employer. Today, due to a successful partnership between local, state, federal and private partners, Sacramento is home to the seventh busiest Amtrak station in the country.”
City Manager Rick Klein, La Junta, Colo.: “The 2013 theme of National Train Day ‘Trains Matter’ is demonstrated in La Junta by our nearly 140 year train history,” according to La Junta City Manager, Rick Klein. He adds, “National Train Day was a huge success in La Junta and it was a great event to spread the message of the importance of the train in our community.”
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 Amtrak.com 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 blog.amtrak.com.