Amtrak Turns 48 Today

You might not have heard much about it, but today (May 1, 2019) is Amtrak’s 48th birthday.

The national passenger carrier commenced operations on May 1, 1971, with a skeletal network and skeletal staff.

At the time, virtually all functions associated with operating the trains were performed under contract by Amtrak’s host railroads.

Amtrak President Roger Lewis has a relatively small staff in Washington, but that was about it.

One locomotive and one passenger cars were given an Amtrak identify, but the trains otherwise looked the same as they had the day before when the freight railroads ran them.

The slogan “tracks are back” shown on a button didn’t debut until later along with another more widely-used slogan, “We’re making the trains worth traveling again.”

I can see why “tracks are back” didn’t seem to gain much traction. Tracks never went away so it’s not clear what was “back.”

 

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