How Amtrak Started in 1971

Amfleet Cars

The New Year is an exciting time. It means new beginnings and most importantly new adventures. But to know where you're going, you have to know where you've been, too.

That's why for the first Throwback Thursday of 2014, we're focusing on how Amtrak got its start more than 40 years ago!

We have a storied 42-year history as America's Railroad and we first pulled out of the station way back on May 1, 1971. Amtrak was originally established by the Congressional Rail Passenger Service Act, which consolidated the U.S.'s existing 20 passenger railroads into one. That's also back when we served 43 states with a total of 21 routes.

Today we not only handle traditional interstate passenger rail in 46 states, but also operate high-speed trains along our busiest route, the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston. With more than 500 destinations throughout a 21,000-mile system, Amtrak has grown to 33 routes across America, thanks to customers like you.

Even back in 1971 we were focused on getting you from Point A to Point B safely and swiftly. In fact, in the 1970s we ordered 492 single-level cars--known as Amfleet I to railroad buffs--that had tubular bodies and ridged stainless steel fluting. They could even reach speeds up to 125 mph!

The Amfleet I was based on the design of the Metroliner, another popular train car that was used between Washington and New York.  Little known fact: they have a unique rounded appearance to try to emulate the design of an aircraft to attract would-be flyers to ride trains instead.

Tell us about your love of classic trains in the comments below!

 

Read More Amtrak History: History.Amtrak.com

5 comments
trainmandan
trainmandan

I am encouraged that, over the past 5 years, Amtrak has made steady gains in ridership, revenue, productivity, and technology (E-Tickets and Wi-Fi), especially in Virginia, where ridership on Regional Trains has doubled and at Burke Centre Station (Fairfax Co) increased 4.3 time.  Hopefully, Amtrak will add a "Information Kiosk" there in 2014.  I took the photo below at the Manassas, VA Station.


dawsonct
dawsonct

Too bad Congress has not increased appropriations since 1971.

eric_dwhite
eric_dwhite

I definitely wasn't even an idea my parents had in 1971, but I definitely remember my first Amtrak ride, along the east coast with my mom. Since then, Amtrak has been my favorite way to travel!

trainmandan
trainmandan

@dawsonct  However, in May 2013, the Virginia Governor signed the first comprehensive Transportation Law in 27 years, which stabilized funding for the state's Regional Amtrak trains.  The public's lookout towards passenger trains is gradually changing in a positive direction.  In my state, both Republican and Democratic state legislators support passenger trains in a way unheard of five years ago.  Further, all states agreed to support their state trains by the Oct 1, 2013 deadline that the 2008 PRIIA (Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act) imposed. That's progress.   The photo shows Amtrak 171 (a state-supported train started 10-1-2009), arriving at Burke Station (Fairfax Co) Station where rider numbers increased 4.3 times in the past 5 years!

trainmandan
trainmandan

@eric_dwhite  I have found that sharing information about local and state Amtrak service is a positive way to get new riders.  Many folks are not aware that a passenger train in their area exists.  

TOP