Bring back some good or bad memories


September 30, 2019

Fascinating Vintage Photos From 1970s Reveal Amtrak's Early Days

As the result of the nation’s reliance on automobiles and increasing popularity of airplane travel that led to the declining use of passenger trains, Congress passed the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970. This legislation established the National Railroad Passenger Corporation to take over the intercity passenger rail service that had been operated by private railroads. Amtrak began service on May 1, 1971 serving 43 states with a total of 21 routes.

In late 1973, Amtrak ordered the first of 492 single-level cars, known as Amfleet I, that were based on the design of the popular Metroliner. With tubular bodies and ridged stainless steel fluting, they could reach speeds of up to 125 mph.

The Amfleet cars came in five configurations, including the Amcoach that was intended for use on short-distance routes. Weighing in at 106,000 pounds, it had 84 seats in a 2x2 configuration versus coaches with 60 seats used on long-distance trains. The coach interiors incorporated bold color choices such as red striped upholstery for the seats.

(Images scanned by Retro Hound)


  1. The only advantage that flying has over train travel is speed. In retrospect, it is regrettable that the US has not supported its passenger train industry as it has the airline industry. The ROI would have been much, MUCH greater. It still could be, of course. The immediate job creation alone would be an astronomical boost to the economy. But they won't. Long term benefits are not in the interests of politicians, so long term investments are ignored.

  2. I think Amtrak is still using the cars.

  3. These pictures were taken from Amtrak magazine ads created at the time and don't reflect how much of a nightmare Amtrak was in it's early days. It got better for a while but it's really gone into the crapper in the last fifteen years.




Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10