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Twin Star Rocket

Amtrak at its pinnacle

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When did the Amtrak route structure reach its greatest number of route miles?

In the 70s (pre-Carter cuts)?

In the 80s?

In the 90s?

Time to pull out your timetables and check!


Without looking at actual numbers, I'd guess in the 70s just before the Carter cuts or in the 90s just after the SUNSET LIMITED was extended to Florida (and the PIONEER and DESERT WIND were still running).

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The pinnacle is yet to come!

It might require a robust congressional caucus, funding of a departmental caliber, and cleaning house in the board, CEO, and upper management, but this Amtrekker is always hopeful!

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Well I finally sat down with 8 Amtrak timetables I thought reflected key times and then made an Excel spreadsheet of route miles that included all routes but the Northeast Corridor. 

Here are my rankings for Amtrak route miles:

#1-- April 1979   30,883 miles--within the year of the Carter administration cuts

#2--June 1976   28,266

#3--May 1993   26,354

#4--May 1974   25,906

#5--October 1991   25,374

#6--August 1980   25,078

#7--October 1982   24,815

#8--June 1972   23,397

Edited by Twin Star Rocket
Correct April 1979 reference to Carter cuts

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I believe summer 1979 is correct for peak Amtrak route miles. Gaining the Crescent helped more than losing Detroit-Buffalo part of the Niagara Rainbow hurt.

1977 will substantially beat 1976, because of the Pioneer starting. If you are counting total number of route miles whether Amtrak-operated or not, I think summer 1977 is the post-1971 peak. 1978 and early 1979 slip a little vs 1977, because of little things like losing the Norfolk-Petersburg segment of the Mountaineer.

Are there any "tiebreaker" route changes between February and September 1979 that will narrow it down further?


Edited by Siegmund

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If you are referring to the last remnants of the once proud network of Rocket's....the last Rock Island and Peoria trains ran on 31 December 1978, shortly before the end of the railroad itself.

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