National Press Club

Amtrak at Twenty

May 1, 1991

About This Video

Run time: 57 minutes

Graham Claytor, president of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation and head of Amtrak, spoke to a National Press Club luncheon on the twentieth anniversary of Amtrak, the national passenger rail system. When Amtrak began, it inherited a number of crumbling, financially strapped railroad companies which were operating with huge deficits. Today, Amtrak boasts a record number of annual passenger miles, operates at only 23 percent of the annual loss of 1970, and aims to break even by the year 2000. Mr. Claytor discussed the beginnings and traced the history of Amtrak from 1970 until today. He said the most important initiative concerning Amtrak's beginnings was the provision that Amtrak was to become a for-profit private corporation, not a subsidiary of the Federal government. He also discussed the improved technology over the last twenty years, and predicted Amtrak's business would continue to improve as passengers turn away from air and automobile travel.