WASHINGTON – To raise awareness of the vital role rail plays in our nation’s transportation system, Amtrak announced that it will celebrate its first annual National Train Day during six weeks of celebrations culminating on May 10.
“With ridership growing to record levels, we continue to see a strong demand for rail travel as a link between growing communities,” said Alex Kummant, President and CEO of Amtrak. “Passenger and freight service is on the rise, and there’s never been a better time to celebrate the railroad industry and passenger rail service in the U.S.”
Amtrak’s celebration of National Train Day will begin six weeks prior to May 10 with special promotions, events, partnerships and an advertising campaign. On May 10 Amtrak will host events at four of its largest stations, Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where visitors may take part in a variety of activities including live musical performances, exhibits, trip planning, VIP appearances and trip giveaways.
Serving as spokesperson for National Train Day is television personality Al Roker. Mr. Roker will experience, first-hand, the benefits of rail travel when he travels from New York to Washington, by train, for the day’s festivities.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of Amtrak’s National Train Day because as a native New Yorker, I can attest to the vital role trains play in our everyday lives,” Roker said. “Whether it’s a quick business trip or a leisurely vacation, the train is a great way to get there.”
Al Roker is not alone.
Amtrak’s ridership and revenue have never been stronger. During fiscal year 2007, more than 25.8 million passengers traveled on Amtrak, setting a record for the most passengers ever since Amtrak began operation in 1971. Total ticket revenue for fiscal year 2007 was more than $1.5 billion, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. It was the fifth straight year of increases for Amtrak, and the trend continues. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2008, more than 7 million passengers traveled on Amtrak, an increase of 11 percent, and revenue was up 14.6 percent to more than $434 million.
“Increasingly Americans are turning to rail to complement other modes of transportation,” said Kummant. “With more than 500 stations in 46 states, Amtrak is a relevant transportation option for many Americans whether they live in small towns or in large metropolitan areas.”
More than just a convenient way to travel, Amtrak is also energy efficient. Traveling by rail contributes less per passenger mile to greenhouse gas emissions than either cars or airplanes. According to U.S. Department of Energy data, Amtrak is 17 percent more efficient than domestic airline travel and 21 percent more efficient than auto travel on a per-passenger-mile basis. When combined with all modes of transportation, passenger railroads emit only 0.2 percent of the travel industry’s total greenhouse gases.
In addition, Amtrak is a charter member of the growing Chicago Climate Exchange, the world’s first legally-binding integrated greenhouse gas reduction and trading system. When Amtrak joined the Exchange in 2003, it committed to cutting diesel emissions by 6 percent by 2010. This represents the largest percentage of reduction committed to in the United States on a voluntary basis and is the first commitment made by a transportation company.
By choosing to travel by rail, Amtrak passengers are already a step ahead because the carbon footprint generated by their trip is smaller than that of most other modes of transportation.
Heritage and Future
The date of National Train Day, May 10, holds special meaning as it is the anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah in 1869. At Promontory, the east coast and west coast were connected for the first time by rail. From Promontory in 1869 to the creation of Amtrak in 1970 to the launch of Acela Express in 2000, Amtrak employees across the country will celebrate the history of train travel while looking towards the future on National Train Day.
For more information on National Train Day and planned events, visit NationalTrainDay.com. Event details will be announced as they become available.