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Amtrak: National Train Day is done NEWSWIRE

By Steve Glischinski | March 7, 2016

Railroad representative blames 'financial challenges' for popular promotion cut

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WASHINGTON — After eight years, Amtrak is pulling the plug on one of its more successful promotions: National Train Day.

In an e-mail to Trains Correspondent Bob Johnston, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says: “Since its inception, Amtrak Train Days/National Train Day has been a popular program, allowing us to celebrate the value that Amtrak brings to local communities nationwide. In light of the financial challenges we are currently facing, we have chosen not to continue the Amtrak Train Days program and to prioritize our resources more efficiently. We would like to thank everyone who devoted their time and effort over the years to making these celebrations of Amtrak and passenger train travel a success.”

Magliari says the popular Amtrak Exhibit Train tour would continue and will make its scheduled appearance at Union Depot Train Days in St. Paul, Minn., April 30-May 1.

Amtrak started National Train Day in 2008 as a way to spread information to the public about the advantages of rail travel and the history of railroading in the United States. It was held each year on the Saturday closest to May 10, the anniversary of the Golden Spike which marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869.

Organizers held events at Amtrak stations, tourist railroads, and railroad museums across the country, with major events usually consisting of equipment displays in major stations across the Amtrak system. From 2008 to 2012, each National Train Day featured an official celebrity spokesperson, who appeared at a single event.

Several cities featured rail equipment and displays from freight railroads, transit agencies, non-profit rail organizations and historical societies as part of National Train Day.

In 2015, Amtrak replaced National Train Day with a company-sponsored event called Amtrak Train Days. The format changed from multiple events on a single day in several cities to individual events over the course of the spring, summer and fall, but most communities that held National Train Day previously continued to follow the same format and schedule as before.

19 thoughts on “Amtrak: National Train Day is done NEWSWIRE

  1. I've been to two events, both of which had hundreds if not low thousands of participants. No idea how many of the participants converted to riders, but even if it was only a small percentage, it was very cheap advertising. Especially given how the train day events were staffed primarily by volunteers, so the only real cost was positioning equipment for displays.

    Between declining dining car service, eliminating staffing at stations, and no replacements of long distance equipment, one cannot help but think that Amtrak management is just giving up growing the business and attracting new passengers. Sad to see. One has to hope that we'll see a much stronger replacement for Mr Boardman, and maybe a renewal in service. So many quality Amtrak management personnel seem to have jumped ship through the past few years, though, it'll be a challenge to see if the company still has what it takes to run a successful national network.

  2. Well it was good while it lasted Thank you Amtrak. Without Congressional backing Amtrak has had a hard time. Millions for airports and barges but penny pinching for passenger rail.

  3. Ditto Messrs. Jackson, Gant, Montgomery, and Zweerts. After hard times, the surviving companies EXPANDED their advertising budgets; the companies that "cut their way to profitability", especially those that cut their outreach budgets, don't have very much to tell us, because they have gone away —

  4. Defunding your best publicity making event seems like a good way to shoot Amtrak in the foot to go hobble off in a North East corner.
    The gathering of many volunteer rail groups, transit, rail oriented corporations, rail safety organizations was always a huge crowd pleaser here in Portland.

    J.M. Zweerts retired BN, KJRY, PNWR, BLET 416

  5. I was fortunate enough to tour the Amtrak Exhibit Train last year in Toledo, OH. There were huge crowds all day long, and it was wall-to-wall people touring the Exhibit Train. Amtrak also brought a Superliner coach, Sightseer Lounge, and sleeper to show off the amenities on the trains.

  6. To Mr. Montgomery from TX (below) writes:

    "Between declining dining car service, eliminating staffing at stations, and no replacements of long distance equipment, one cannot help but think that Amtrak management is just giving up growing the business and attracting new passengers."

    Mr. Montgomery, you seem to believe that Amtrak's management is trying to commit corporate suicide when funding is the issue. Are you aware of the enormous budgetary crisis the NRPC has been in since its inception, and how it has been fighting for its life since it was born in 1971? Ideologs in Congress, especially the House of Representatives, have been waging a 45 year long war against the company which was created by Congress. They don't believe the US government should support rail passenger services, but they have no problem spending billions on the national air traffic control system, building (and endlessly re-building) the Interstate highway system, maintaining barge canals and river access for barge traffic, and subsidizing pipeline owners- all to benefit private companies at taxpayer expense. Amtrak recevies a fraction of what the US government spends on supporting every other form of transportation at taxpayer expense each year. The fact that it exists at all on the starvation budget it is given each year is a miracle in itself.

    "Well it was good while it lasted Thank you Amtrak. Without Congressional backing Amtrak has had a hard time. Millions for airports and barges but penny pinching for passenger rail."

    Kudos to you, Mr. Kania, for understanding what the issues are concerning the current state of funding for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation vis-a-vis other transporatation modalities subsidized by the Federal government.

  8. How ironic. The very mechanism Amtrak has used to advertise its services has become a victim of the same budget cuts that threaten the company itself- cuts unfairly and unevenly forced upon it in the name of "deficit reduction" when the railroad's ridership totals have never been higher. No other form of transportation currently subsidized by the Federal government is held to the same standard or starvation budget as Amtrak, and that includes trucks, aircraft, barges, and pipelines. Gregory Gant (below) writes: "Amtrak is quickly failing massively…I've never been so disappointed in the company.".

    Suggestion, Mr. Gant: write to your Congressman and tell him/her to fund the national Railroad Passenger Corp. at the same level and according to the same operational standards that apply to trucking companies, airlines, barge operators, and pipeline companies and Amtrak won't fail "massively".

  9. Glad "Bunker" Boardman is on his way out. He never had a clue. Amtrak seems to have plenty of equipment to do promotional rail trips for excursions and private business, but cries 'poor mouth' to add a car to an over-booked train. Is it true that they converted a scarce 'Viewliner' sleeper to an inspection 'theater car', in addition to the "Beech Grove" Buddmobile, for the bureaucrats to travel on. We, locally, could do the "Train Day", just with a little promotional help from DC.
    BTW, I was doing a GoogleMap search for a restaurant in Convent, LA. I was amazed at the number of barges on the Mississippi River there. Thanks, "Army" Corps of Engineers (no soldiers, just civilian bureaucrats) for giving freebies to the barge lines and siphoning off privately-owned rail traffic. I hope Trump 'sees the light'!

  10. this was a very smart public relations program; how about relying on local support with Amtrak consulting to keep interest going. Otherwise, I fear Amtrak will become a hidden utility that no one has a connection to. Sad.

  11. Almost any business person will tell you that ONE of the important keys to a successful business model, is to advertise, advertise, advertise !! I'm still waiting for those ads and commercials on TV again !
    Maybe if a business-man is at the ' helm ' in D.C. , it will happen.

  12. Won't be noticed here in New York's Capital Region. I don't remember having any Railroad Day
    celebrations here where Boardman was State Transportation Commissioner. Station at Rensselaer just across the Hudson River from the Capital city of Albany is reported to be ninth busiest on AMTK system. Station is owned by a bus authority which may explain it all. Really too bad, at least one group I am affiliated with would gladly have exhibited for Railroad Day.

  13. So long. Farewell to a great publicity idea. The republicans must be rubbing their hands with glee about another way of hurting Amtrak. You couldn't do this at the airports. Could you imagine going through the TSA LINES? Or doing this at a bus terminal? A lot of them are in the middle of nowhere. Alas, poor National Train Day. I knew it well

  14. STOP playing the ' blame game ' Mr. Kerner, as it will not accomplish anything !!

    HOW MANY PEOPLE (prospective passengers) have YOU or any of US, for that matter, encouraged to travel to their destination on AMTRAK, if at all possible or practical ?

    We're ALL in this together , and must remember that proportionate to the number of passengers traveling on airlines or by our extensive interstate highway system, the funding for AMTRAK, could be construed as being quite substantial

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