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Sat May 1, 2021, 07:02 AM

On this day, May 1, 1971, fifty years ago today, Amtrak began operation.

Fri May 1, 2020: Happy 49th birthday, Amtrak.

Fri May 1, 2020: Happy 49th birthday, Amtrak.

Wed May 1, 2019: Happy 48th birthday, Amtrak.

I almost forgot.

Watch the evolution of Amtrak from 1971 to 2011
TRANSIT By David Alpert (Executive Director), Malcolm Kenton (Contributor) May 1, 201913

This article was first published on May 1, 2011 for Amtrak's 40th birthday. We're sharing it again today with a few updates to celebrate its 48th.

Today, Amtrak turns 48. This slideshow shows how passenger rail service has evolved over the decades, using maps from Malcolm Kenton and the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

On May 1, 1971, Amtrak replaced a much more extensive private passenger rail network that was on the decline due to massive government investment in other modes of transportation. It has struggled at times throughout its 48-year history, and some routes have come and gone, but it’s kept valuable rail service alive.



What remains of the national passenger train network, albeit skeletal compared to what it was and what it should be, exists largely thanks to the efforts of grassroots advocates who understand trains’ superior energy efficiency and the importance of having balance and choice in the American transportation system.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) organized in 1967 and built a broad coalition that lobbied successfully for the passage of the 1970 law that created Amtrak. NARP and its allies have successfully fought further contraction of the system ever since, and are now building support for long-term, dedicated federal funding for intercity passenger rail—something highways and aviation enjoy, while Amtrak has had to fight for its small share of general funds in every year’s appropriations cycle.

Great old footage:



Lee Witten
Published on Jul 30, 2015

This video is a compilation of film clips from a collection of super 8 films made by former Union Pacific Engineer, Stephen Harris. They were donated to the Ogden Union Station Archives and we got a grant to digitize them. I made this video to show the evolution of Amtrak through the first part of the 1970s.

There are some errors in place names or area identification. Thanks to viewers for making corrections via comments. A second edition has been made....

If you insist:



Lee Witten
Published on Aug 31, 2016

Thanks to contributions of new information, a second edition of this Amtrak video was made. I recommend viewers read the comments below for more details that don't appear in the video.

This video is a compilation of film clips from a collection of super 8 films made by former Union Pacific Engineer, Stephen Harris. They were donated to the Ogden Union Station Archives and we got a grant to digitize them. I made this video to show the evolution of Amtrak through the first part of the 1970s.

The Southern Railway was a holdout:



cnlGNERnh
Published on Feb 26, 2010

8mm film of arrival at Alexandria, Virginia on August 28, 1977 after passing of northbound Amtrak
Silver Meteor. Train is nearing its terminus at Washington DC after overnight run from New Orleans and Atlanta.



Jackson Bain
Published on Dec 27, 2013

This is the longer version that ran on the Today Show. The shorter version on this channel was cut down to air on NBC Nightly News that same day.

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Reply On this day, May 1, 1971, fifty years ago today, Amtrak began operation. (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves May 1 OP
Vogon_Glory May 1 #1

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Sat May 1, 2021, 12:45 PM

1. Thanks for posting this and the map!

Thanks for posting this and the map! The US would be a far poorer, more wretched place if it lacked even the skeletal intercity rail service we currently possess.

Amtrak made quite a transition from an outfit using private railroads’ hand-me-downs to using its own equipment. Much of what it had built is aging and needs replacing with new stuff.

Thanks for including the map! I don’t think most people know or appreciate the quantity or quality of passenger rail service we once had. Your map not only shows some of the routes that are still there, but also the numerous routes discontinued after the Post Office made a DeJoy-like “reform” and moved the mail off the trains. People should think of the mail on the rails in Britain and France and ponder.

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