(CNN) — Created in 1971 from the creaking remains of the classic US railroads that helped build modern America, Amtrak has often lived a precarious existence.
Subject to the whims of politicians in Washington D.C. and constantly under pressure from the well-funded and hugely influential oil, automotive and airline industry lobbies, the national passenger rail operator has been threatened with oblivion on several occasions.
But as it celebrates a 50th anniversary that few would have been brave enough to predict, there are signs that Amtrak’s moment may finally have arrived. The United States remains firmly wedded to the automobile and the sheer size of the nation means that air travel is often the only option for long-distance journeys.
To mark the train service’s 50th anniversary, travelers can score up to $50 off each segment.
By Rachel Chang, April 28, 2021
Just after midnight on May 1, 1971, a Clocker train left New York City bound for Philadelphia as the inaugural departure for Amtrak.
Now, 50 years later, the rail service has grown into a network with more than 300 trains a day traveling along its 21,000 route miles to more than 500 destinations in 46 states.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary this week, Amtrak is honoring its passengers by offering 50% off fares, with a maximum of $50 off each segment.
In the sale that launched today, the savings can be applied on one-way coach and Acela business class fares on routes across the country. The offer must be booked between now and May 5, 2021, for travel dates between June 2 and Nov. 13, 2021.
By Betsy Klein, CNN, Updated 12:34 PM ET, Tue April 27, 2021
(CNN) — “Amtrak Joe” is returning to his roots.
President Joe Biden will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Amtrak’s founding when he travels to Philadelphia on Friday to make a push for his massive infrastructure proposal, a White House official confirmed to CNN.
He will be visiting the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in downtown Philadelphia, the official said.
The train station trip is part of a travel blitz, aptly named the “Getting America Back on Track” tour, which is aimed at highlighting the President’s first 100 days in office and his legislative push for infrastructure, something Biden expected to advocate for as he addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
Biden is also set to travel to Atlanta on Thursday.
Rumblings of a railway renaissance have been swirling recently, thanks to a growing interest in sustainable transportation.
And with new tracks being laid and upgraded trains to look forward to, post-pandemic travel could involve taking the scenic route more often.
More travelers are eyeing ways to not only make their future trips stress-free, but also more eco-conscious. Countries like Scotland and Spain have announced plans to roll out zero-emission hydrogen-powered trains.
The European Commission has dubbed 2021 the European Year of Rail, which aligns with their goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Even President Joe Biden, who earned the nickname Amtrak Joe for having famously commuted by train for decades as a senator, promised a “second rail revolution” on his campaign trail.