National Railway System
The United States rail network has a complex mix of infrastructure ownership and passenger train operation. Most of the infrastructure is owned by private companies - principally BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific - which operate freight services only. Passenger services are provided by various public-sector bodies. The federal operator, Amtrak, runs long-distance and other inter-city trains, and local services are run by various state operators. Amtrak and some other operators also own parts of the infrastructure on which they run.
There is a fairly consistent basic infrastructure standard for all main-line operators (i.e. not metros / light rail):
- gauge: standard
- electrification: none (but see Northeast Corridor below)
- rule of the road: right, but with extensive bi-directional operation
Variations are noted against individual operators.
The Northeast Corridor is the main line linking Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Due to a complex ownership and construction history, the Northeast Corridor electrification has three different systems, all overhead:
- Boston - New Haven (Connecticut): 25kV 60Hz
- New Haven - New York: 12.5KV 60Hz (includes Metro-North branches in Connecticut)
- New York - Washington: 12kV 25Hz (includes Philadelphia - Harrisburg, and SEPTA lines around Philadelphia)
Some NJ Transit branch lines connecting with the Northeast Corridor have 25kV 60Hz electrification.
- Printed: Steam Powered Video publish a series of rail atlases covering the United States.
- The Man in Seat 61 site has a useful guide to train travel in the United States, including summary timetables and ticket details.
- Summary timetables for Amtrak and some other services are available in some editions of the European Rail Timetable.
- A real-time interactive map and other information for many "commuter rail" operators (and other transit services) is available at PantographApp. Note that this does not include Amtrak services.
Tickets are generally not interavailable between operators, even on shared routes. Exceptions may be identified in this Guide when known.
The main source of information is the website.
Amtrak provide an interactive map, and also a PDF map: on the Routes & Destinations page, click the "National Route Map" button
- Journey planner: on the website front page
- Online timetables: Amtrak no longer provides timetable PDFs. The Rail Passengers Association publishes unofficial timetables in a similar format, created from Amtrak data.
- Printed timetable: it is not known whether Amtrak still publishes a paper timetable. The compilers would welcome updates.
There is an archive of old Amtrak timetable PDFs, both official and unofficial, and other resources, at juckins.net.
- On the Amtrak website front page, click the "Train Status" button to check individual trains by origin/destination or by train number
- A real-time interactive map of Amtrak (and VIA Rail) trains is available on the TransitDocs website. Click on individual trains to view their details.
Amtrak offers several rail passes. Note that these do not provide unlimited travel within a particular period and area; there is a limit on the number of times any given route segment may be travelled, and the national "USA Rail Pass" permits only ten journey segments (point-to-point journeys on a single service). A rail pass is also not a travel document in its own right; for each journey on a rail pass, a conventional ticket must be issued, free of charge, with reservations as necessary.
Various state-supported regional routes have their own websites, which may provide more information than is available from the Amtrak website.
- Capitol Corridor: Sacramento - Oakland - San Jose (California). The front page includes a PDF schedule.
- Cascades: Eugene, OR - Portland, OR - Seattle, WA - Vancouver, BC. Train Schedules includes a PDF schedule.
- Downeaster: Boston, MA - Brunswick, ME. Schedule and Fares includes a PDF schedule.
- Pacific Surfliner: San Luis Obispo - Los Angeles - San Diego (California). Schedules includes a PDF schedule.
- San Joaquins: Oakland / Sacramento - Stockton - Bakersfield (California). Schedules includes a PDF schedule.
Information for operators within individual states, including metro and light rail systems, is broken down by state:
|Alabama||only Amtrak service|
|Alaska||see state page|
|Arizona (including Phoenix)||see state page|
|Arkansas||see state page|
|California (including Los Angeles and San Francisco)||see state page|
|Colorado (including Denver)||see state page|
|Connecticut||see state page|
|Delaware||service provided by Amtrak and SEPTA only - see Pennsylvania|
|District of Columbia (DC / Washington city)||see state page|
|Florida (including Miami)||see state page|
|Georgia (including Atlanta)||see state page|
|Hawaii (including Honolulu)||see state page|
|Idaho||only Amtrak service|
|Illinois (including Chicago)||see state page|
|Indiana||see state page|
|Iowa||only Amtrak service|
|Kansas||only Amtrak service|
|Kentucky||only Amtrak service|
|Louisiana (including New Orleans)||see state page|
|Maine||only Amtrak service|
|Maryland (including Baltimore)||see state page|
|Massachusetts (including Boston)||see state page|
|Michigan (including Detroit)||see state page|
|Minnesota (including Minneapolis)||see state page|
|Mississippi||only Amtrak service|
|Missouri||see state page|
|Montana||only Amtrak service|
|Nebraska||only Amtrak service|
|Nevada (including Las Vegas)||see state page|
|New Hampshire||only Amtrak service|
|New Jersey||see state page|
|New Mexico (including Albuquerque)||see state page|
|New York||see state page|
|North Carolina||see state page|
|North Dakota||only Amtrak service|
|Ohio||see state page|
|Oklahoma||see state page|
|Oregon||see state page|
|Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh)||see state page|
|Rhode Island||service provided by Amtrak and MBTA only - see Massachusetts|
|South Carolina||only Amtrak service|
|South Dakota||no rail passenger service|
|Tennessee (including Memphis and Nashville)||see state page|
|Texas (including Dallas and Houston)||see state page|
|Utah||see state page|
|Vermont||only Amtrak service|
|Virginia||see state page|
|Washington (state)||see state page|
|West Virginia||service provided by Amtrak and MARC only - see Maryland|
|Wisconsin||see state page|
|Wyoming||no rail passenger service|
Note that some states do not have Amtrak service: Alaska, Hawaii, South Dakota, Wyoming.
There is a separate page for the US territory of Puerto Rico; the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands have no railways.