Amtrak California is actually a brand name developed by both Amtrak and
California to provide stable and reliable rail service to the state (it
even has its own reporting marks, CDTX). The service has been in
operation since the early 1990s providing commuters and regional
travelers the ability to reach all of California's largest cities such
as Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, and
others (overall, there are three primary trains that connect these
cities). Today, despite the fact that Amtrak's future always seems to
be in limbo as leaders in Washington, D.C. can never seem to decide if
they want to put money towards subsidized passenger rail, thanks to
Amtrak California's state-supported funding
train services continue to grow in demand; this is especially true as
gas prices seem to constantly be rising and California implements ever
more environmental laws.
There are only a few state-sponsored passenger rail operations affiliated with Amtrak which sport their own livery, and California is one of them (the other is North Carolina and interestingly, both state's lead the way in developing rail travel services for their respective regions). Along with being one of the leading states in this field, California was also one of the first to providing its own funding. This originally started in 1976, just five years after Amtrak began operations. With only limited funding from the federal government at the time and losing patience with infrequent and unreliable service, California began helping the national carrier through monetary assistance to improve operations. In doing so the state created the Caltrans Division of Rail, at the same time forming the brand name Amtrak California.
There are three primary routes which make up Amtrak California; Pacific Surfliner in the southern regions of the state, the Capitol Corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, and finally the San Joaquin with service to the Bay Area and points south. As funding increased the trains began receiving their own paint scheme, which is now based on a version of Amtrak's Phase V livery; a combination of silver and blue along with a few other colors. Today, California owns several locomotives, which totals 17 units (15 EMD F59PHIs and two GE P32-8WHs), along with a fleet of passenger cars (which primarily consist of retrofitted and updated Superliners) and other equipment all of which are painted in either state colors or the Pacific Surfliner scheme. It should also be noted that Amtrak California provides many connecting services via a fleet of buses it operates.
As the only service in the Golden State with its own, separate livery (of silver, bright blue, and white trim) the Pacific Surfliner has been running since its opening day on June 1, 2000. Its corridor links California's southern oceanside cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo on trackage once owned by both the Southern Pacific and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (Santa Fe). The route is 350 miles in length and someone traveling the entire distance can expect to do so in about 5 hours and 45 minutes. As only a regional train the Pacific Surfliner's amenities include standard coach class as well as business class (a consist usually includes a business class car, coach-cafe, two standard coaches, and a baggage-coach). Typically, track speeds on the route are between the standard 60 and 79 mph with twelve round trips completed on a daily basis.
Amtrak's second-busiest service (the Pacific Surfliner is the most traveled) is the Capitol Corridor, which runs between San Jose, Oakland/San Francisco, Sacramento, and Auburn on trackage once owned by the SP (overall, it serves sixteen different stations). It is the most northern regional route available to residents of the state and sees nearly 1.6 million riders annually. The service first began in December of 1991 and the length of the corridor is 168 miles with the entire route covered in about 3 hours and 15 minutes (these short jaunts allow for numerous round trips on a daily basis). The on board amenities are fairly basic with only coach service and a cafe car available. Additionally, the Capitol Corridor offers connecting service to area commuter agencies such as the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and Caltrain.
Finally, there is the San Joaquin, which serves much of central California. This train operates over primarily former SP lines as well and serves San Francisco, Oakland, Stockton, Fresno, and Bakersfield (overall, it serves eighteen different stations) covering a distance of 315 miles in 6 hours and 15 minutes one way. The San Joaquin is also the oldest Amtrak California operation dating back to 1974 when it was inaugurated that March. On most trips the train carries three or four cars including coaches, a cafe, and a baggage compartment. All three trains that are part of Amtrak California operate in a push-pull fashion with a lead F59PHI and a cab car on one end. While the San Joaquin sees the fewest riders of the trio it still hosts numbers approaching one million annually.
|An Amtrak Cascade trainset #507 led by F59PHI #470 rolls through Seattle on October 5, 2010.|
The Amtrak Cascades is a
service the carrier provides to the Pacific Northwest, which while
dating back to pre-1970s when private lines like Union Pacific, Northern
Pacific, and Great Northern hosted trains has only been named such
since the late 1990s. While the routing between Vancouver, Seattle,
Tacoma, Portland and Eugene (Oregon) has been popular since Amtrak began
providing services on its first day of operations (May 1, 1971)
commuter and passenger traffic has exploded since the 1990s when the
carrier began offering new trains and other perks. Today, the Cascades
trains with their European equipment built by the French is the
carrier's most popular in the west and now nearly tops one million
riders annually and more than two thousand daily. As demand grows
Amtrak continues to add new trains and services. Despite a funding
situation that is always fuzzy and unpredictable Cascades will likely
remain a very bright spot for the company throughout the foreseeable
When Amtrak first began it attempted to organize a chaotic network into something both manageable
and sustainable in regards to the rather small operating budget it was
given. Additionally, it attempted to make sense of seriously worn down and tired
fleet of both locomotives, passenger cars, and other equipment handed
over by the private railroads. One region which Amtrak retained was the
Pacific Northwest and the corridor between California, Oregon, western
Washington, and Vancouver. Historically, this service had been provided
through a combination of several roads; Union Pacific, Southern
Pacific, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and Canadian Pacific. There
was no Amtrak Cascades in 1971. However, you could reach all of those areas via trains such as the Coast Starlight (which continued to California), Mount Rainier, Pacific International (to Vancouver after 1972) and Puget Sound.
In 1980 northwest service received its first major "endorsement", if you
will, when the state of Oregon subsidized a train to reach Eugene, the Willamette Valley.
While it appeared the stage was set for the region to receive even
further improved services. However, in the early 1980s Oregon cancelled
its sponsorship and around the same time the Pacific International was dropped to Vancouver. This left only local/regional service between Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland (aside from the Coast Starlight to Los Angeles). Things stayed virtually the same for the next decade. On April 1, 1994 with more funding
available from both the federal government and the states of Washington
and Oregon, Amtrak again looked to expand its reach in the Pacific
Northwest with new equipment that was built by the French company Talgo
(short for Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol).
These cars, the only of their kind to be used in the United States,
featured free tilting technology which meant that they could not only
easily glide through curves but could also do so at high speeds.
Despite the fact that they were meant to operate at speeds over 100 mph
they are limited to the mandated track speed of no greater than 79 mph.
In any event, the cars offer passengers an incredible degree
of comfort even though they are only used in regional service. For
power the trains used EMD's then-new F59PHIs (which remain the primary
power today), capable of operating at 110 mph with 3,200 horsepower.
When launched in 1994 the service was only available between Seattle and
Portland on new trains the Northwest Talgo, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams later that year.
Then, in May 1995 the Mount Baker International returned service to Vancouver and a month later the Mount Rainier
was extended to Eugene after Oregon again agreed to subsidize the
service through its borders. This setup continued until the fall of
1998. It was then that the passenger carrier began publicizing Amtrak Cascades
service between Eugene and Vancouver, a distance of 467 miles if one
were to travel the entire route, which offered eighteen stops. An
attractive new paint scheme adorned the five trainsets of green, white,
and burnt umber. Typically, the trains operate with twelve cars plus
the F59PHI and a retrofitted F40PH used as a control car (thus, the
F59PHI is used in push-pull service). The consist includes a baggage, a
business coach, lounge-diner, Bistro cafe, five coaches, and finally a service car.
The success of Amtrak Cascades
has been quite impressive as today it stands as the carrier's busiest
corridor outside of the Northeast and California. This has also been
helped by the fact that Washington, in
particular, has been aggressively pursuing the addition of new commuter
and passenger rail services similar to other states such as California
and North Carolina. Since Amtrak implemented the new Talgo trainsets
back in 1994 the demand has grown from less than 100,000 riders annually
to over 800,000 as of 2010!
This number is very likely to continue rising as the state continues to fund such services. To date Washington
is still eying upgraded services, such as returning unused tracks in the
Puget Sound region back into service for commuter purposes. They also
hope to one day operate high speed trains (i.e., 125 mph or higher)
between Oregon and Vancouver although a target date for such a plan is
unknown given the extremely high cost involved.
|Brand new Amtrak California F59PHI #2001 is on its inaugural revenue run with assistance from a B32-8WH as the train boards passengers at Emeryville, California on September 26, 1994.|
After Amtrak began operations in May of 1971 it was not given a particularly large source of funding
from the federal government. As such, service could be unpredictable
and unreliable at best, a fact not lost on California. Looking for
better reliability the state began subsidizing service in its own state
after 1976, which eventually transformed into a number of commuter and
regional trains implemented, one of which was the Capitol Corridor.
This service was also one of three that provided passengers the
ability to ride a train from the Bay Area to the southern tip of the
state via a branded service known as Amtrak California. Today, the
equipment used for these trains are entirely state-owned and even
feature their own livery (with Amtrak providing logistics and
operations). Since it began in the early 1990s the Corridor currently is one of the busiest train routes along Amtrak's entire network and continues to grow on an annual basis.
The history of the Capitol Corridor dates to December of 1991 when funding from California allowed for a second sponsored passenger train to operate in the state (the first being the San Joaquin established in 1974). With this new service (at first it was known only as the Capitols but later changed to its current name to avoid confusion with similar Amtrak services, notably the Capitol Limited)
available the Golden State now offered regional rail connections from
Auburn and Sacramento to Oakland/San Francisco and San Jose on a
corridor that was 168 miles in length. Travelers also had the ability
to continue southward to Stockton, Fresno, and Bakersfield via the San Joaquin. In 2000, things were further expanded with the addition of the Pacific Surfliner serving the state's southern coastal cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Luis Obispo.
As with all Amtrak California trains the Corridor
was funded by Caltrans Division of Rail and is currently managed
between the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority Bay Area Rapid
Transit. The tracks used for the Capitol Corridor were
originally owned by the vast Southern Pacific system (California's best
remember railroad since it reached virtually every important area of the
state) and today these are part of the Union Pacific with small
sections around the Bay Area being state owned. Since much of the
trackage the corridor uses remains an important freight artery for UP
keeping a good working balance between both operations is paramount (an
issue that keeps passenger trains from operating south of Bakersfield to
offer a through system to LA/San Diego, the freight trains are simply
When the Corridor service began in 1991 it featured
little in the way of noteworthy services and was not particularly
attractive. Trains used secondhand equipment that had been purchased
from Amtrak such as EMD F40PH diesel locomotives and dated Amfleet cars,
which date to the 1970s and have a tubular appearance (the cars
actually look quite similar to the old Pennsylvania Railroad
Silverliners). The only thing new at the time were two General Electric
P32-8WHs, a four-axle diesel designed for use in passenger service and
capable of producing 3,200 horsepower (the locomotive, externally,
looked virtually identical to its freight counterpart). During the
mid-1990s the state finally purchased a fleet of new locomotives, EMD
F59PHIs, and refurbished several more Superliner, double-decked
passenger cars. These retrofitted cars, along with another roster of cafe cars, were
reclassified as California Cars and are named after geographic locations
around the state.
Today, a typical consist for a Corridor train includes a cafe car, coaches,
and a baggage car that has the ability to haul bicycles (which,
interestingly enough, is a growing trend). Someone looking to ride the full length
of the route can expect to do so in about 3 hours and 15 minutes if
there are no delays or other extraordinary activity, such as maintenance
work. Currently, there are sixteen trains dispatched over the line
daily with train numbers including 518, 520-549, 551, 553, 720, 723-724,
727-729, 732-734, 736-738, 741-749, and 751.
Not surprisingly, as funding and services have improved, so has demand,
which has more than tripled since just 1998. As of 2010 ridership was
reaching nearly 1.6 million annually, a number that will likely continue
to grow in the coming years (the demand has also forced the state to
add more trains to the line). If you are interested in riding the Corridor
station stops along the route include Auburn, Rocklin, Roseville,
Sacramento, Davis, Suisun City, Martinez, Richmond, Berkeley,
Emeryville, Oakland (two stations), Hayward, Fremont, Santa Clara, and
San Jose. Additionally, as with all Amtrak California trains (which now
offer free Wi-Fi on board) there are connecting bus services available.
|From across the South Bay of Lake Champlain we see Amtrak's "Adirondack" rolling along near Whitehall, New York not far from the Vermont border on August 29, 2012.|
Today, Amtrak's Empire Service continues to grow in popularity
and now carries more than one millions passengers annually along its
corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls, with intermediate
connections to Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany. If you are a history buff
those names probably sound familiar as the train uses the former New
York Central's main line on its 700+ mile trip that features multiple
trips daily. The national carrier continued this route's passenger
services, which was one of the few services that Penn Central had
retained until the end. Currently, the Service also offers connecting trains via other regional Amtrak trains like the Maple Leaf and Lake Shore Limited. Additionally, the state of New York hopes to have this route upgraded to speeds topping 100 mph soon.
Because Amtrak's Empire Service operates along the ex-NYC's main
line the railroad once hosted numerous named trains serving the same
corridor, the most famous of which between New York and Buffalo was the Empire State Express. However, some of the other trains to serve this route included the iconic 20th Century Limited, Lake Shore Limited (still operated today by Amtrak), numerous Mercuries (which served numerous cities), Pacemaker, Commodore Vanderbilt, and many more. The Empire State Express
was one of the railroad's oldest names trains, having been first
inaugurated by predecessor New York Central & Hudson River Railroad
in 1891. Back then, of course, equipment consisted of early 4-4-0
American Type steam locomotives and wooden Pullman cars.
The train was upgraded twice prior to the streamliner era, first in 1905
with more modern equipment although it still utilized 4-4-0s (albeit
more powerful); then in 1920 it was updated again with all-steel,
"heavyweight" Pullman cars and non-streamlined J Class 4-6-4 Hudsons. A
typical run for the train to cover the 436 miles between New York and
Buffalo, even during its early years, was just over seven hours. In 1941
the Empire truly came of age when the NYC decided to completely
streamline the train with new equipment from the Budd Company. Using its
patented fluted stainless steel the equipment included mostly coaches
but also offered new amenities like air-conditioning. The Empire State Express
was officially christened as a streamliner on Sunday, December 7, 1941
and unfortunately, as the NYC would soon learn the company could not
have chosen a worse date to inaugurate the train.
While the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii completely overshadowed the Empire's
inauguration it went on to remain a successful dayliner for the New
York Central. The train lost its name in 1967 and many of the high
class amenities that made it popular during its heyday. After this time
it was simply known as the Empire Service by successor Penn
Central, which continued to operate it until the start of Amtrak on May
1, 1971. While Amtrak retained this corridor it briefly no longer
offered any service west of Buffalo to other key cities like Detroit,
Cleveland, and Chicago. In 1975, this was restored via the Lake Shore Limited.
Additionally, Amtrak reestablished connections to cities that had lost
rail service in the 1960s such as Niagara Falls and Schenectady. Today, the Service runs a corridor that is 460
miles in length and offers station stops (from east to west) at Penn
Station (New York), Yonkers, Croton-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, Rhinecliff,
Hudson, Rensselaer/Albany, Schenectady, Amsterdam, Utica, Rome,
Syracuse, Rochester, Depew, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls.
Even though it
is a very long route for what is technically a regional train (requiring
more than seven hours of travel time) it runs numerous trains daily
including numbers 230, 232, 233-239, 241-245, 250, 252-256, 258, 261,
263, 280-281, 283-284, and 288. The accommodations the Empire Service currently offers includes coach and business classes,
a snack/cafe car, and even free Wi-Fi (Internet) on board (a feature
that is becoming more common with Amtrak's trains every passing year). The train is normally equipped with a General Electric Genesis series
diesel locomotive for power and Amfleet cars. Due to the intermediate
to large markets the Service
connects, ridership is naturally quite high with more than one million
passengers hosted in 2011. The state of New York is working feverishly
to upgrade this corridor to speeds at or above 110 mph. The funding
has been secured by construction has yet to begin. The purpose of this
is not only to increase speeds and lure more folks to travel by train
but also to improve the economic conditions of western New York,
especially the region around Buffalo which has been downtrodden for
|An individual speaks with the engineer of P42DC #11, which will be powering today's "Palmetto." The train is seen here making a station stop at Savannah, Georgia on May 13, 2007.|
While a bit confusing there are currently two trains by the same name of Hiawatha which Amtrak operates; the Hiawatha itself is a regional run that connects the Twin Cities with Chicago while the Service is a commuter-like between Chicago and Milwaukee. The heritage of these trains
dates back to the railroad which first inaugurated them in the 1930s,
the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific better known as the
Milwaukee Road. The Milwaukee kicked off its new streamliner as the regional Twin Cities Hiawatha
serving the same corridor as Amtrak does today. The train became so
popular that it forced the railroad to split it into two different
versions operating daily. Today, both of Amtrak's Hiawathas are one of its most popular services and it still sees several departures daily. There is hope for the trains to cruise at speeds, just as their predecessors once did but thus far this remains only a dream.
What today operates as Amtrak's Hiawathas began in 1935 with the aforementioned Twin Cities Hiawatha from the Milwaukee
Road. A year earlier the streamliner craze had hit the railroad
industry and the CMStP&P was hoping to cash in on the new fad
itself. However, instead of purchasing new equipment the railroad built
its own and named the train after the great leader of the Iroquois.
For power the train featured a 4-4-2 Atlantic type steam locomotive that
was streamlined and could operate at speeds well above 100 mph. This
high speed of travel, alone, made the Hiawathas legendary, as
were the railroad's "Reduce to 90" signs along the right-of-way. The
trains could carry an average speed of 60 mph and make the run from
Chicago to the Twin Cities in just seven hours covering an astounding
421 miles during the journey!
The train's livery was a beautiful two-tone orange, created by
noted industrial designer Otto Kuhler. It was also Kuhler who designed
the interior layout and colors of the train. Perhaps its most striking
feature was the one-of-kind Beaver Tail parlor-observation car,
quite radical for the time as nothing like it had ever been seen before
(at the time the now-common round-ended observations were still quite
new in appearance). In later years the Hiawathas were powered by
4-6-4 Hudsons and during the diesel era EMD E8s and E9s were typically
used. As the regional service became more popular the Milwaukee Road broke up the operation as Morning Hiawathas and Afternoon Hiawathas
to properly meet demand. During its heyday the trains incredibly
featured Super Domes for maximum viewing as well as the vaunted Skytop
observations where the back of the cars were a glass solarium.
Interestingly, when Amtrak began on May 1, 1971 it retained the Hiawatha name for use as the Milwaukee's old transcontinental train although it was renamed as the North Coast Hiawatha
and rerouted over the Burlington Northern out west to Seattle. A year
later it revived the original regional train, although truncated to only
Chicago and Milwaukee, and known as the Hiawatha Service. Additionally, it inaugurated the Hiawatha
at the same time for through service to the Twin Cities just like the
original. This setup remained until 1979 when the long distance North Coast Hiawatha was dropped in favor of the Empire Builder,
which left the two regional trains. It still remains this way today
although the carrier has been able to improve the trains since their
early years. The Service did have a brief respite between 1976 and
1989 when Amtrak dropped the name in favor of its new French-built
Turboliner trainsets that were used instead. However, these were
transferred to a different region allowing the original name to return
on the October 29, 1989 timetable.
Today, because the corridor is only
86 miles in length travel time is only about 1.5 hours with seven round
trips made everyday except Sunday (with just six trips). Train numbers
dispatched over the line include 329 through 342. In addition,
passengers can take through bus connections to several nearby cities
such as Green Bay, Oshkosh, Marquette, and Wausau. Being such a short
route, trains operate with about a half-dozen Horizon Fleet and Amfleet
coaches (combined), which include either standard coach or business class accommodations. However, upgrades to the line are very close to being completed. In
2009 the state of Wisconsin purchased two Spanish-built Talgo trainsets,
which now has a plant located in Milwaukee. This 14-car consists will
operate in push-pull service, have Wi-Fi ability, a bistro/cafe car,
and carry tilting technology which will allow the trains to operate at
speeds over 100 mph once the high speed upgrades are applied to the
route. As of February, 2012 the trainsets were nearing completion and
should be in operation before the end of the year.
|Amtrak's train #311, the "Missouri River Runner," hustles through La Monte, Missouri with just three cars on June 2, 2012 led by a common P42DC, #116.|
Amtrak's Illinois Service is not actually a train itself but a
brand name covering five regional runs that connect Chicago to a number
of the state's smaller cities (it is also partially subsidized by the
Illinois Department of Transportation). These services include the Illinois Zephyr (Chicago-Quincy), Carl Sandburg (Chicago-Quincy), Lincoln Service (Chicago-St. Louis), Illini (Chicago to Carbondale), and finally the Saluki
(Chicago to Carbondale). Many of these trains can trace their roots
back to a number of different Midwestern railroads like the Illinois
Central, Gulf Mobile & Ohio (GM&O), and the Chicago Burlington
& Quincy (CB&Q), albeit under different names. As you might
expect the services for these trains are quite generic considering no
trip usually takes longer than five hours. It is hoped that these
routes will someday soon become high speed corridors although funding
for such projects continues to remain elusive.
There are currently two trains that Amtrak operates between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois; the Illinois Zephyr and the Carl Sandburg. The former harkens back to the Burlington's well known fleet of regional and long-distance streamlined Zephyrs. The route's actual predecessors were the Kansas City Zephyr and American Royal Zephyr,
which both served Chicago and Kansas City and were canceled between the
late 1960s and startup of Amtrak. On November 14, 1971 the national
carrier added the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg to its
timetable but interestingly never extended them to either Kansas City
or any other nearby major city. It was also at this time that IDOT
began to subsidize rail service creating the brand Illinois Service.
It is interesting to note that despite having no major connecting cities both trains are quite popular. The Illinois Zephyr is listed as trains #380 and #383 while the Carl Sandburg
carries #381 and #382. Their corridor is 258 miles in length with a
typical trip requiring about 4.5 hours. Standard power on the trains
are General Electric P42s and about four cars (three Horizon Fleet coaches as well as a Amfleet lounge). Amtrak's Lincoln Service is another historically significant train as the Abraham Lincoln,
which served the same cities (Chicago-St. Louis) and inaugurated by the
Baltimore & Ohio in 1935. At that time the B&O owned the Alton
Railroad and was hoping to strategically market itself in the Midwest
as a way to gain leverage on competitors Pennsylvania and New York
Interestingly, despite its regional status the Abe Lincoln was one of the B&O's first streamliners and it spent a lot of money purchasing its equipment from car builder American Car
& Foundry along with marketing the train. On May 31, 1947 the
B&O elected to sell its interest in the Midwest, with the Gulf,
Mobile & Ohio purchasing the Alton but retaining the Abe Lincoln, which remained a rather popular train and it survived through the startup of Amtrak. It retained its name until 2006 when Lincoln Service
was adopted instead. Today, it continues to operate over a 284-mile
corridor with trips usually requiring a little over 5 hours. The
train's consist is just as the above two trains; a GE P42DC, Horizon
Fleet coaches as well as a cafe car.
The Illini (train #392-393) is a train with a history
associated with the Illinois Central Railroad. The IC actually had a
train by this very name that served the same corridor
(Chicago-Carbondale) along with another by the name of the Shawnee.
Upon Amtrak's startup it retained the latter but at first scrapped the
former. This changed with the carrier's December 19, 1973 timetable
when it brought back the Illini permanently to serve Champaign.
After a roller coaster during the following decade where the train saw
its routing switched several times with the January 12, 1986 timetable
it was extended to Carbondale and has seen this routing ever since. It
runs alongside its counterpart, the Saluki (train #390-391) providing daily service on trips that usually require 5.5 hours to complete over the 310 miles covered.
The Saluki is very recent addition to the corridor,
established the the October 30, 2006 to better meet demand. Both trains
continue to see ridership climb, which lately has been by 10% or more
each year. Both of the trains carry roughly the same consist as the
aforementioned Illinois Service with a GE P42 for power, a
handful of Horizon Fleet coaches, a cafe service via an Amfleet
club-dinette car. The future of these trains appears to be quite good
considering that nearly all have seen growing ridership in recent years.
Additionally, if Illinois is able to upgrade these routes, and others,
with high speed service that could see trains eclipsing 100 mph demand
will likely grow even more.
|In this scene a single F40PH, #217, heads the "Palmetto" through Ashland, Virginia on January 8, 1994.|
In recent years Amtrak's Keystone Service has exploded in
popularity as the carrier has upgraded the route with full electrified
capability which not only as increased train speed but also required
less transit times as trains do not have to switch motive power. In a
typical year, Amtrak now sees its ridership over this nearly 200-mile
stretch of track top out well over one million easily putting it within
the company's top-ten corridors around the country. The history of the
route dates back to the carrier's earliest years with the Keystone, a train that operated across Pennsylvania, as well as the Silverliner Service. Today, a version of the former is known as the Pennsylvanian and operates alongside the current Keystone Service.
It is quite likely that the success of the New York to Harrisburg route
will continue well into the future consider the electrified service and
large metropolitan region the trains serve. The history of the current
New York-Harrisburg corridor can actually be traced long before there
ever was an Amtrak. With the Pennsylvania Railroad's main line to both
Chicago and St. Louis slicing directly through the heart of the Keystone
State (which split at Pittsburgh) the company ran numerous named trains
between the Steel City, Philadelphia, and New York such as the flagship
Broadway Limited and others like the St. Louisan (New York/Washington - St. Louis), Duquesne (New York - Pittsburgh), and Pittsburgher
just to name a few. The latter two trains, of course, served the Steel
City and by the time Penn Central was created in 1968 only regional
Keystone Corridor trains remaining included the Duquesne (originally named after Fort Duquesne in Pittsburgh) and Silverliner Service (Philadelphia - Harrisburg).
Both of these survived until Amtrak began on May 1, 1971. The Duquesne
was retained by the carrier until Amtrak's first official timetable was
released on November 14, 1971 when it was renamed as the Keystone, trains #42 and #43. This lasted until 1979 when the Keystone was dropped in favor of today's Pennsylvanian in 1980. Interestingly, due to its regional nature the Silverliner Service
was always a relatively popular train even under Penn Central. It
first entered service on the PRR around 1963 when the railroad took
delivery of new Silverliner cars (thus the name) from the Budd Company.
They carried the classic Budd stainless steel appearance and also
sported a look similar to the company's popular Rail Diesel Car (RDC) save for the fact that they could operate electrically. The PRR came to own 38 Silverliner cars for service on the Keystone Corridor with funding provided through the new Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (at the time the railroad was in far too much financial
trouble to pay for the equipment itself). When Amtrak began it also
kept this operation and it remained relatively unchanged over the next
However, in 1981 it was renamed as today's Keystone Service
and extended to New York City. In an effort to avoid confusion between
the New York - Harrisburg and Philadelphia - Harrisburg along the
Keystone Corridor individual named trains were used including Big Apple, Harrisburg Express, Susquehanna, and Valley Forge.
For more streamlined operations and better efficiency, however, Amtrak
ended this practice in 1995 when all trains were listed as simply the Keystone Service (that year also spelled the end for the iconic Broadway Limited). Today, the train remains a rather simple, regional train with few on
board amenities and consist that usually includes just five Amfleet
standard coaches with both no business class
or cafe service. The train's 195-mile corridor typically requires a
3.5-hour trip one way. Overall, there are forty-six train numbers that
accompany the service including 600, 601, 605, 607, 609-612, 615,
618-620, 622, 637, 639-656, 658, and 660-672. This, along with the
large metropolitan cities the train serves is the significant reason why
it sees so many travelers/commuters on an annual basis, which now tops
out at nearly 1.5 million.
Throughout the mid-1990s, when Amtrak began
receiving General Electric's new Genesis diesel locomotives for use in standard service to replace aging EMD F40PHs, they could almost always be found powering the Keystone Service west of Philadelphia. For many years the Harrisburg to Philly main line was electrified by the
PRR although it was shutdown some years ago. Finally, in the mid-2000s
Amtrak received funding, $145 million between the state of Pennsylvania
and federal government, to restore the electricity, reopening it to
through electrified traffic in October of 2006. This allowed track
speeds across the entire corridor to be increased to 110-mph, which
further grew demand. Today, trains are usually powered by Amtrak's
trusty AEM-7 motors, a Swedish locomotive that has been in service since
the late 1970s and early 1980s.
|A pair of Amtrak's ubiquitous F40PHs, main line power for the carrier for more than 20 years, hit the grade crossing at Randolph Road in Rockville, Maryland on August 23, 1994 along CSX trackage.
Amtrak's Silver Service is actually a marketing name used to describe its two premier east coast trains, the Silver Star and Silver Meteor
that connect New York City with various tourist attractions in Florida
such as Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville. Both trains have quite
a history as part of the Seaboard Air Line
Railroad's popular fleet of southern streamliners during the classic
era of rail travel when no expense was spared to make sure passengers
thoroughly enjoyed their trip. Due to the fact that these trains served
the sub-tropical regions of the U.S. from South Carolina
to Florida they actually remained fairly popular with the public all of
the way through the 1960s, which is a significant reason why several of
then-Seaboard Coast Line's fleet was retained after Amtrak began. While
the carrier's versions of the trains today are not quite as opulent,
combined they still attract nearly one millions riders annually.
The most prominent train to make up Amtrak's Silver Service today would certainly be the SAL's Silver Meteor.
This train was the railroad's flagship, first inaugurated on February
2, 1939 just when the streamliner craze was really catching on around
the country. The Meteor evoked the South in every way possible
with "tropical" colors adorning both the exterior and interior. While
the original train was meant to be an all-coach run on the SAL it also
offered through Pullman, sleeper service between Richmond-New
York/Boston via the Pennsylvania and New Haven railroads. In the 1950s
the Meteor sported its most prominent feature, the “Sun Lounge”,
which featured glass ceilings since height restrictions forced the
railroad from using domes.
In any event, the inauguration of the Silver Meteor forced rival Atlantic Coast Line to scramble and showcase its own streamliner to Florida, the Champion.
Despite the fact that the ACL was a month or so late to the party its
flagship became just as popular and both trains enjoyed many years of
success. The SAL's counterpart to the Meteor was the Silver Star,
which was inaugurated on December 12, 1947. The creation of this train
was thanks to newer streamlined equipment purchased for the flagship,
essentially making it a reborn version of the original Meteor with coaches,
diners, lounges, and an observation. By the late 1960s both trains
were still in service on the Seaboard Coast Line and because of their
success survived through the start of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.
While the Silver Meteor has been retained by Amtrak it has
undergone numerous routing changes, and even a name change since 1971.
The train began bypassing Jacksonville just a year later in 1972, one of
the major stops under SAL ownership. However, this was returned in
1973. Later that decade and into the 1980s it switched over to former
ACL lines in Florida although part of these changes were due to the
abandonment of SAL corridors as then CSX Transportation. Typically, the
Meteor today uses Amfleet coaches
for dining, lounge, snack, and diner services while Viewliners sleepers
as used for nightly accommodations. Power north of Washington, D.C. is
provided by AEM-7 electrics and General Electric "Genesis" diesels south of that point.
Overall, the entire corridor from Boston to Miami is 1,389
miles in length and requires more than 28 hours per trip. Ironically,
this is now more than two hours slower than during the Seaboard era when
the train required just under 26 hours along the same route. Annual
ridership on the Meteor now sits at nearly 400,000 annually, or just over 1,000 passengers per trip. As for the Silver Star the sister train to the Meteor
offers quite a similar routing. However, the one change with the train
is that it connects directly to Tampa before reaching Miami as its
sibling bypasses this city (but does offer bus service). As such, the
entire route is 1,522 miles in length, nearly 150 miles longer. The
accommodations, however, are roughly the same with Amfleet and Viewliner
cars used on every train. A typical consist for the Star includes a baggage, two Viewliners, a Heritage Fleet diner, a cafe car, and at least three coaches.
Ridership on the Star is also quite a bit higher than the Meteor
with more than 425,000 passengers taking the train in 2011. This can
likely be partially explained by the addition of Tampa on the timetable.
In any event, the train has also had a much greater increase in demand
in recent years with a close to 10% jump in ridership. While Amtrak
took a hard look at its Silver Service trains in just 2011 they
are likely both to be on the timetable for many years to come given that
they have retained a high level of ridership for being an intercity
corridor. If you would like to learn more about riding the Silver Service please visit Amtrak's official website,
which provides information on how to book a trip as well as all of the
accommodations each train offers (a downloadable timetable is also
provided which includes virtually everything there is to know about the
|A nearly-new Amtrak Turboliner trainset, #60, speeds through Kalamazoo, Michigan as it is about to hit a grade-crossing during July of 1977.|
As in Illinois, California, and a few other regions Amtrak uses the brand name Michigan Services to describe a series of regional trains which connect Chicago with several cities in Michigan. These trains include the Wolverine, Pere Marquette, and Blue Water
and have were put into service after Amtrak began between the mid-1970s
and 1980s. All three are historically significant and either were
actually operated by a fallen flag railroad or its regional route is
still in use (such as in the case of the Grand Trunk Western). Many
years ago Michigan was home to
several regional passenger trains thanks to its heavy industrial base
and the once vitally important city of Detroit. Today, Amtrak's three
trains are all that remains of this network. However, along with
continuing growth in ridership there is hope that these trains will be
upgraded to high speed, 110 mph service in the near future.
Before there was today's Michigan Services operated by Amtrak the
state boasted several regional and long-distance trains. Railroads
like New York Central (in particular, it alone operated numerous named
trains through Michigan), Baltimore & Ohio, Grand Trunk Western,
Pennsylvania, Wabash, Pere Marquette, and others connected many of the
Wolverine State's cities with names such as the Red Arrow, Ambassador, Cincinnatian, Michigan, Wolverine, Twilight Limited, Pere Marquette, Wabash Cannon Ball, Detroit Limited, Maple Leaf,
and several others. During the "Golden Age" of the railroad industry
Detroit was extremely important due to its heavy industrial base alone
and automobile manufacturing in particular (a lucrative traffic source).
Additionally, there were other important cities such as Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Durant, and the car
ferry docks at Muskegon, Grand Haven, and Ludington. When Amtrak began
on May 1, 1971 there were only five railroads still serving the state;
the B&O, C&O, Grand Trunk, Penn Central, and Norfolk &
Western which still operated some twelve various trains. However, all
of these were abolished by Amtrak save for two former PC runs, which did
not carry a name until the carrier issued its first timetable on
November 14, 1971 naming them the Wolverine and the St. Clair (the latter train lost its name in the early 1980s but survived as part of the Lake Cities
until 2004). The former has been the one train that has stood the test
of time and has not been extended but is also now partially funded by
the state of Michigan (as are all Amtrak services in the state).
Interestingly, Amtrak at first had high hopes in the state. In 1975 it
began operating French-built Turboliner trainsets via the Wolverine. Unfortunately, with Penn Central in bankruptcy
and deferring maintenance they could never operate at the intended
speeds of 100+ mph and were relocated to other corridors in the early
1980s. Today, as with most regional Amtrak trains the current Wolverine, which has been expanded from Detroit northward to Pontiac, provides fairly light accommodations
on its 304-mile trip between Detroit and Chicago; typically you will
find two General Electric P42s for power (one on each end to avoid
turning), three Horizon Fleet coaches, and an Amfleet cafe-club car.
Despite these rather mundane services the train's ridership has
steadily grown and now see more than a half-million passengers annually.
The Pere Marquette has a history that dates back to its
predecessor railroad, the Pere Marquette Railway. Under the PM the
train operated between Detroit and Grand Rapids as a regional run with
service Monday through Saturday. In 1947 the railroad was purchased by
the Chesapeake & Ohio, which retained the train but would expand it
to serve three different corridors; Detroit-Grand Rapids, Chicago-Grand
Rapids/Muskegon, and Detroit-Saginaw. Interestingly, the Pere Marquettes
as they were known survived serving these routes through end although
when Amtrak began on May 1 it initially did not retain the name.
However, thanks to state support the name was revived on August 5, 1984
as a Chicago-Grand Rapids service, which continues through today. As a
regional run the train offers a bit more than you might expect as three
Superliner coaches typically make up a consist.
Finally, there is the Blue Water which serves Chicago and Port Huron, for some years known by Amtrak as the Blue Water Limited
from 1975 to 1982. The route the carrier uses was originally part of
the Grand Trunk Western, a Canadian National subsidiary, who once field
such trains on the line as the Maple Leaf, International Limited, the Inter-City Limited and LaSalle
all of which connected to Toronto. From 1976 through 1981 Amtrak
equipped its new Turboliner high-speed trainsets over the line although
because they were never able to operate at true high speeds were pulled
in 1981. A year later the Blue Water name was dropped in favor of the old International Limited when the train was extended to Toronto.
However, lagging demand forced Amtrak to truncate this back to Port
Huron in 2004, returning the train to its original name as the Blue Water.
Today, the corridor is approximately 319 miles in length and requires
nearly six hours to complete a trip. The train's standard power today
is a GE P42DC with up to eight cars consisting of a Horizon Fleet/Amfleet coaches and the same used as a cafe-business car.
|Amtrak AEM-7 #952 has a commuter train at Middle River, Maryland on February 10, 2004.|
Of all of the areas Amtrak serves its Northeast Corridor (or NEC) that
stretches roughly from Richmond, Virginia northward to Boston,
Massachusetts and connecting all of the major cities in the region along
the way has always been the carrier's most popular. Because of this
then, it probably comes as little surprise that its Northeast Regional
service that connects the NEC is Amtrak's busiest seeing millions of
riders annually, which either take the train all of the way through or
stop at one of the major cities along the way. The history of passenger
trains here can be traced well back into the classic Pennsylvania
Railroad era when the once-largest such company to be found in the
country dispatched dozens of various named trains along the NEC, which
were also quite popular with the traveling public. The future of this
route under Amtrak hopes to be expanded further with high speed rail
service to Richmond and perhaps even into North Carolina.
The history of this route was predominantly owned by two different
companies; the aforementioned PRR as well as the New York, New Haven
& Hartford (New Haven). The former could boast a through line
between New York and Washington, D.C. by around 1907 (mostly by
purchasing smaller systems along the way) while the latter, the New
Haven, operated a main line between New York and Boston by as early as
1888 (also by buying up smaller railroads). In general these two
companies worked together (since they were not true competitors) in
providing passengers and commuters with through connections from Boston
to Washington. Due to the volume of traffic they carried then, just
like now, both also listed dozens of trains, particularly the New Haven.
Far too many to mention here the NYNH&H's more well known runs
then included names like the Bostonian, Colonial, Merchants Limited, New Yorker, and Yankee Clipper.
For the PRR, it did not offer quite as many named trains but made up for
this in the fabulous level of services, which were second to known for
simply being a commuter/regional corridor! The Senator was one
of the most popular, operating all of the way from Boston to Washington
in conjunction with the New Haven. Aside from its lavish accommodations
the train could complete the trip in just eight hours, more than two
hours faster than today's trains offered by Amtrak! There was also the Congressional
service, a very fast commuter train running from Washington, D.C. and
New York. It also offered a vast array of amenities to passengers and
was powered by the iconic GG-1 electric,
which could complete a trip in less than four hours; again, much faster
than Amtrak. Another sometimes forgotten regional commuter train
serving this region was the Crusader operated by the Reading Railroad.
This commuter-like streamliner connected Philadelphia with Jersey City
on a 90-mile corridor that was also popular with commuters and
businessmen for its services that were right up there with the PRR.
Sadly, as they say, all good things must come to an end and as the
public abandoned trains for cars and planes the Northeast Corridor lost
many of these trains while those that remained were mere shells of their
former selves. Upon the start of Amtrak on May 1, 1971 some of these
runs were retained (although the once-popular Congressionals were retired later that decade) and surprisingly survived for many years. Names like the Yankee Clipper and Federal
survived under the Amtrak banner for decades before finally being
retired in the mid-1990s. With the release of the carrier's October 28,
1995 timetable all of these services became known as NortheastDirect.
These new trains, which all operated under that banner served
the entirety of the Northeast Corridor connecting Boston, Springfield
(Massachusetts), New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington,
Richmond, Newport News, and Lynchburg. With Amtrak's April 7, 2008 timetable the name was again changed to today's Northeast Regional.
Overall, the service now serves a total of 50 stations with
electrified operations ending south of Washington. Train numbers used
include 66, 67, 82-88, 93-95, 99, 110-111, 121, 123, 125-127, 129-141,
143, 145-148, 150-190, 192-199, 401, 405, 432, 450, 460, 463-465, 467,
470, 475-476, 479, 488, 490, 493-495, and 497. The entire corridor is
630 miles in length and if one were to ride it the entire length would
require 12.5 hours. Because the Northeast Regional is just that, a regional service, services aboard train are fairly light consist of Amfleet cars offering standard coach and business classes as well as a cafe/snack car.
Power above Washington for the trains consists of either the reliable
AEM-7 Swedish electrics (in service for nearly 30 years now) or the much
newer HHP-8 motors used for the Acela Regional. South of the nation's capital Amtrak employs its standard General Electric Genesis series diesels. The future of the Northeast Regional service looks interesting as the carrier is attempting to work
with the Virginia and Congress in obtaining funding to electrify the
line to Richmond and provide through service to Norfolk via Class I
Norfolk Southern's trackage. If this happens and the state is able to
complete its project with North Carolina to offer high speed rail
service to Charlotte, the Piedmont, and Wilmington one can ride a fast
train from Boston into the heart of the South.
|Pacific Surfliner F59PHI #462 during its first year of service boards passengers in San Diego on July 9, 2000.|
Amtrak California's Pacific Surfliner is the newest member in the
state's family of intercity passenger rail services. Begun only
relatively recently in 2000 the train has quickly become California's
most popular, seeing more than two million riders annually on its route
that runs the southern Pacific coast between San Diego and San Louis
Opisbo. The service is also the only one featuring its own, unique,
paint scheme different from even the standard Amtrak California livery
of dark blue and silver. Much of the line the Surfliner uses was once owned by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (Santa Fe)
and the railroad's heritage can still be found in many places, such as a
number of the depots that remain in use and built in the classic
Spanish Mission style. If you are hoping to rider the Surfliner service expansions over the years have increased its station stops to more than two dozen with multiple trips ran daily!
As the busiest route that is subsidized by California it took the state many years to see the Pacific Surfliner a reality. After the Santa Fe
discontinued passenger trains along its "Surf Line" between Los Angeles
and San Diego on April 30, 1971, Amtrak continued to use the San Diegan
when it began operations the next day. In general, the carrier
received although worn out equipment from mots railroads (both
locomotives and passenger cars) which made reliable scheduling
very difficult. However, things were a bit different in the case of
the AT&SF which handed Amtrak a tired, but quite usable roster of
equipment as the railroad did a much better job
of maintaining its fleet right through the end. The state of
California, which was hoping to see improved and more reliable
intrastate passenger rail service began subsidizing Amtrak's operations
This led the Amtrak California brand name and Caltrans Division of Rail,
which both managed and funneled monies to the national carrier. At
that time, two trains still provided intercity rail services in the
state the aforementioned San Diegan and the San Joaquin,
an upstart of 1974 between Oakland and Bakersfield. Both of these
operations began to see significant improvement with increased funding as well as new equipment, such as the far more reliable EMD F40PHs of the late 1970s. In December, 1991 the Capitol Corridor
debuted between Oakland, San Jose and Auburn giving the state three
regional trains serving its largest cities. Then, on June 1, 2000
Amtrak and California re-inaugurated the San Diegan as a through train from San Diego to San Luis Opisbo via Santa Barbara.
This routing, north of Los Angeles used former Southern Pacific trackage and to better market the new corridor the name Pacific Surfliner
was chosen (quite appropriate, considering trains skirt the coast much
of the way, making for a breathtaking backdrop as swimmers can literally
watch trains pass from the beach). With its increased range the entire
route covers some 350 miles and takes about 5 hours and 45 minutes to
ride the entire line (not including a return trip). Current train
numbers dispatched now include 562, 564-67, 571-573, 577-580, 582-583,
587, 589-592, 595, 597, 763, 768, 769, 774-775, 784-785, 792, 796, and
798-799. In the early 1990s Amtrak California began purchasing new
equipment such as upgraded Superliners (now known as California Cars) and EMD F59PHIs.
For use on the Pacific Surfliner are what are known as Surfliner Cars.
These look quite similar to Amtrak's double-decked Superliners
although they were specially built by Alstom (with the primary
differences being on board amenities such as Wi Fi, power outlets, and general deign as well as sporting the special Surfliner
livery). Of course, as demands ebb and flow considering the train
one of Amtrak's busiest with more than 2.6 million riders annually,
traditional cars from the fleet will be used (sometimes to the chagrin
of passengers). However, typically a consist will include an F59PHI,
business car, coach-cafe, two or more standard coaches (as needed), and a
coach-baggage-cab car (for push-pull operations since there is never a
location to turn the entire train making things much more efficient).
Additionally, as with all Amtrak California services there are available connecting buses to other cities; in the case of the Surfliner
these include Solvang, Buellton, Atascadero and Paso Robles. Finally,
California's busiest passenger route offers treasures that many who ride
it probably pay little attention, the restored depots of the Santa Fe
and Southern Pacific that still serve in their original capacity.
Today, the Pacific Surfliner
features 30 station stops and of those San Luis Obispo (SP), Santa
Barbara (SP), Glendale (AT&SF), Los Angeles (Union Station), San
Juan Capistrano (AT&SF), and San Diego (AT&SF) all still use
their original depots to serve passengers.
|Amtrak's "Silver Star" arrives in West Palm Beach, Florida on the evening of May 11, 2007. The author notes that the train is nearly two hours behind schedule.|
Along with California, North Carolina is one of the only states which
sports its own Amtrak-inspired livery. The Tarheel State has been at
least partially subsidizing passenger rail service within its borders
since the 1980s when it partnered with Amtrak to inaugurate the Carolinian.
However, it was during the 1990s that things truly began to take off
when an additional train was launched, today known as the Piedmont Service between Charlotte and Raleigh (it began as the Piedmont). As the state became more involved in supporting rail service demand grew and it now sponsors two daily Piedmont,
which spurred the name change. Its current hopes include pushing
passenger trains across the state to its largest cities such as
Asheville in the west and the port of Wilmington along the Atlantic
coast. Additionally, it hopes to operate them at high speeds (over 100
mph), which is a very real possibility as demand continues to grow for
The route now used by Piedmont Service was once part of the
Southern Railway's route across North Carolina, which stretched as far
as Morehead City to Raleigh, Greensboro, Salisbury, and westward to
Asheville (stretching as far as Murphy). While the Southern did provide
local services across the Tarheel State (including to Raleigh) and many
of its well known runs connected to Charlotte which lay along its main
line, it never hosted a named or expedited regional train between the
two cities; the closest the railroad came was with trains like the Asheville Special (Washington - Greensboro - Asheville), Aiken-Augusta Speciall (Washington - Salisbury - Augusta), and Carolina Special
(Cincinnati - Greensboro/Charleston). By the time Amtrak began on May
1, 1971 the Southern had long since ended all local and regional
Its sole remaining train, which was not initially included in Amtrak was the fabled Southern Crescent
that survived until early 1979 when the railroad finally relinquished
it to Amtrak. North Carolina's first venture into partially subsidized
rail service began in the early 1980s when it partnered with Amtrak to
provide a train, known as the Carolinian, that would connect
Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh with Richmond, Virginia. From that
point Amtrak would offer through service to passengers wishing to reach
Washington, D.C., New York City, and all major points in between. The
train debuted on October 28, 1984 but survived only a year due to poor
revenues (despite high ridership).
Six years later the two tried the train again, which kicked off on May
12, 1990, but this time chose to operate it as a through train all of
the way to the Northeast. As ridership and demand grew North Carolina
began exploring the possibility of adding an additional corridor. Five
years later on May 26, 1995 it debuted the Piedmont which served
the cities of (east to west) Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Burlington,
Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, Kannapolis, and Charlotte (which is
173 miles in length). The major difference between this train and its
counterpart is that the state fully owns all of the rolling stock
used for the service, just like California. Its fleet of locomotives
includes two EMD F59PHIs and four F59PHs, all of which are named for
cities served along the route.
The cars used are dated
Pullman-Standard and St. Louis Car Company equipment, which has been
heavily refurbished. Additionally, the state continues to overhaul more
cars. Everything sports a
livery that is Amtrak inspired but uniquely North Carolina; silver and
blue with red trim topped off by a large star on the nose of locomotives
and "North Carolina" adorning their flanks. As demand grew the state
elected to enter a second train into service over the corridor which
renamed the route as the Piedmont Service. Today, the trains
complete trips in about 3 hours and 10 minutes with train numbers listed
as 73-76. As services have grown so has ridership and 2011 saw a jump
in ridership by more than 40% over 2010 to more than 140,000 passengers!
The route between Charlotte and Raleigh is also now owned by the
state, known as the North Carolina Railroad (which in total owns 317
miles of track) with rights leased to Norfolk Southern to provide freight service.
|Amtrak's "Piedmont," led by P42DC #15 with help from a North Carolina Railroad locomotive, hits a grade-crossing in China Grove on April 30, 2011.|
The Tarheel State has big plans for its future rail service as it hopes
to establish high speed operations throughout its borders from Asheville
to Wilmington. While the North Carolina Railroad has its owns website to truly
learn about the state’s incredible plans of passenger and commuter rail
services you need to visit the North Carolina Department of
Transportation’s dedicated website to such called Bytrain.org.
This website not only give you the latest scoop concerning ongoing
initiatives and plans relating to North Carolina’s railroading
operations it also informs about the state’s steps to preserve
right-of-ways for future rail use and keeping industries planted in its
borders by providing rail access. All in all, the entire site is the
best resource on the Internet to learn about North Carolina’s rail industry, from passenger to freight usage.
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