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, is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States.Founded in 1971 to take over most of the remaining U. passenger rail services, it is partially government funded yet operated and managed as a for-profit corporation.Proponents also hoped that government intervention would be brief, but their view was that Amtrak would soon support itself. Popular support has allowed Amtrak to continue in operation longer than critics imagined, while financial results have made a return to private operation infeasible.A Burlington Northern EMD F3 leads the North Coast Hiawatha into Yakima, Washington in July 1971, an example of early Amtrak "rainbow" consists, made up of equipment still painted in the colors of various freight cars Amtrak received no rail tracks or rights-of-way at its inception.Amtrak would abandon numerous large stations whose upkeep could no longer be justified.On the other hand, the creation of the Los Angeles–Seattle Coast Starlight from three formerly separate trains was an immediate success.Railroads also faced antiquated work rules and inflexible relationships with trade unions.
Several major corridors became freight-only, including the ex-New York Central Railroad's Water Level Route across New York and Ohio and Grand Trunk Western Railroad's Chicago to Detroit route.
All Amtrak's routes were continuations of prior service, although Amtrak pruned about half the passenger rail network.
Of the 364 trains operated previously, Amtrak only continued 182.
Matters were brought to a head on March 5, 1970, when the Penn Central, the largest railroad in the Northeast United States and teetering on bankruptcy, filed to discontinue 34 of its passenger trains.
Proponents of the bill, led by the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), sought government funding to ensure the continuation of passenger trains.