WASHINGTON — To raise awareness of the vital role rail plays in our nation’s transportation system, Amtrak is celebrating its first annual National Train Day, Saturday, May 10, 2008.
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 Summit, the east coast and west coast were connected for the first time by rail.
Amtrak is hosting events at four of its largest stations — Washington, DC, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Events will include train equipment displays, live entertainment, model train displays, book signings and sweepstakes drawings for Amtrak Vacations® packages for two which include rail travel, hotel accommodations and sightseeing tours. Amtrak’s mascot, ARTE – Amtrak Recognizes the Environment — will be on hand at all four stations to entertain children and share information on traveling “green” on Amtrak.
In Chicago, six former Pullman Porters will be honored during a special ceremony for their contributions to the nation’s railroad. The former porters, who served as far back as the mid-1940s, will share their memories of their time on the railroad.
In addition, more than 83 additional events are planned at railroad stations and museums across the country with photo galleries, equipment displays and children’s activities.
Serving as spokesperson for National Train Day is television personality Al Roker. Roker will host the festivities at Washington Union Station.
“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.
“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.”
For more information on National Train Day and planned events, visit NationalTrainDay.com.