Amtrak: By the Numbers

20 fast facts about America’s rail transportation leader.

By John Barry

1. Amtrak was created by Congress in 1970 to take over most of the intercity passenger rail services previously operated by private railroad companies. Those companies had operated rail service at a net loss for many years. Amtrak’s national operations began on May 1, 1971.

2. Amtrak trains travel 21,000 route miles nationwide.

3. Amtrak operates in 46 states—including New York—as well as the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces.

4. Amtrak operates more than 300 trains daily—capable of exceeding 150 mph—to more than 500 destinations.

5. In Amtrak’s Fiscal Year 2023, national ridership was 28.5 million. Amtrak ridership surged in New York in FY ‘23, exceeding pre-pandemic totals. Amtrak’s New York stations had FY ’23 ridership of 2.1 million on all routes that commenced and ended within New York State.

6. Before the Ethan Allen Express service was extended to Burlington, the last time a passenger train traveled from New York City to Burlington was 1953.

7. Toronto Union Station was opened in 1927 with a fantastic ribbon cutting ceremony by Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, who was also the first person to step off a train into Union Station.

8. Ridership on the Empire service had an increase of 22% ridership in 2023 from the previous year.

9. At the end of 2022, Amtrak employed 18,689 people, including 1,605 New York residents. Total wages for that year were $1.92 billion, of which New York residents earned $153,239,995.

10. In 2022, Amtrak train passengers took nearly 22.9 million trips, including seven million first trips. On an average day, customers made more than 62,800 trips on Amtrak trains.

11. In 2022, the Albany-Rensselaer/Joseph L. Bruno Rail Station, an Amtrak stop on the Empire service that covers New York’s Capital Region, ranked eighth in the nation for ridership with 640,353 passengers, a figure that beat out Boston and New Haven.

12. Amtrak is the only railroad in North America to maintain a right-of-way for service at speeds more than 125mph.

13. Beginning in 1971, Amtrak operated rail service from Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. In 1988, roughly 100 Amtrak trains, carrying 5.5 million passengers a year, used Penn Station daily. That same year, Grand Central bid farewell to 18 daily Amtrak trains, and their one million annual riders. Amtrak’s final day at Grand Central was April 7, 1991.

14. The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, for whom Moynihan Train Hall in Manhattan is named, served as US ambassador to India and the United Nations; and served as assistant to President Richard Nixon for Urban Affairs. Moynihan was elected to the US Senate, representing New York, in 1976; and served as chair of the Finance Committee. He retired from the Senate in 2001.

15. The Poughkeepsie Train Station, an Amtrak stop, was designed by the same team that crafted Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. President-elect Abraham Lincoln on February 19, 1861, made a brief train stop in Poughkeepsie on his way to his inauguration in Washington, DC. On April 25, 1865, Lincoln’s funeral train arrived at the station carrying the assassinated president’s coffin on board.

16. Served by Amtrak, the Boehlert Transportation Center at Union Station in Utica is one of the few train stations to include a barber shop. The transportation hub also has a 15,000-square-foot waiting room and a 47-foot vaulted ceiling supported by 34 marble columns. Construction took place from 1912-14, replaced an older structure that had opened in 1869 and required the rerouting of the Mohawk River.

17. Amtrak’s Adirondack service, which runs from New York City to Montréal, was named one of the Top 10 Most Scenic Train Rides in the World by National Geographic.

18. On the Adirondack service, both the Plattsburgh and Westport stations offer access to the Village of Lake Placid, in the Adirondack Mountains. Lake Placid hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics and is where Team USA’s Men’s Ice Hockey Team defeated the Soviet Union for the historic (“Miracle On Ice”) 1980 win. Shuttle service to Lake Placid is available from Westport Station and the Amtrak stop in Plattsburgh.

19. The Saratoga Springs Amtrak Station offers access to the Upstate New York State city where the potato chip was invented.

20. The station that serves Amtrak and the Capital Region, known as the Albany-Rensselaer stop, is officially the Joseph L. Bruno Rail Station. The transportation center honors Bruno, the late New York State senator who served as majority leader for nearly a decade-and-a-half.