Amtrak releases FY20 Sustainability Report

Amtrak has released its FY20 Sustainability Report.

Throughout the report are details of Amtrak’s measured progress against annual and long-term sustainability goals.

“By investing in innovative equipment and new technologies, protecting vital rail infrastructure from climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding access to new communities, we can work together to create a future where intercity rail is operated on clean energy,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. “Investment decisions made today position us to achieve these goals. These visions and our strong sustainability story continue to evolve and grow every year.”

At the outset of fiscal year 2020, Amtrak was operating at record ridership. As the pandemic spread across the nation, ridership decreased significantly. Amtrak continued providing an essential service to customers who relied on Amtrak as a vital transportation solution. Although travel slowed, Amtrak used 2020 to continue planning the future of U.S. passenger rail. Amtrak advanced climate resilience research and response including developing Amtrak’s first solar power purchase agreement contract, developing tools to incorporate climate risks into capital planning and initiating internal climate roundtables across various departments.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Moynihan Train Hall: Sustainability was a focal point of the project, and the design team is currently pursuing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Transit certification for its sustainable design and construction. When customers come up to the main concourse, they’re welcomed by natural light and spacious rooms with 92-foot ceilings and overhead parabolic skylights, created by reusing the building’s steel trusses. LED lights are used on the train information displays lining the wall and the escalators are equipped with smart features, including heaters, to ensure reliability during cold weather and a sleep mode that will save energy and increase durability. The entire project was based on restoring and upgrading a historic building to be reused as a durable, modernized transit center.
  • Climate resilience planning: Recognizing that changing climate is adversely affecting operations, Amtrak says it has been investigating climate risks. Starting in FY20, Amtrak outlined a vision for a comprehensive strategic plan to pull together resiliency work already underway and set out a plan and goals for the future. The main objectives of the Climate Resilience Strategic Plan are to better understand current business vulnerabilities, develop near term adjustments to business practices and longer-term adaptations, with the goal of galvanizing viability as a safe and reliable mode of transportation in the face of changing conditions.
  • Food finders: Amtrak prepared for the uptick in spring break travelers by stocking packaged goods and perishable items. Once impacts from COVID-19 directly affected Amtrak operations and reduced train schedules, perishable food was at risk of becoming waste. Amtrak’s Los Angeles team called a local food rescue partner, Food Finders, to collect perishable items, linens and towels. Amtrak also teamed up with centers in several major metropolitan areas, including Central Union Mission in Washington, D.C., Northwest Harvest in Seattle, King Majesty Ministries in Chicago, Operation Dignity Inc. in Oakland, St. Jude’s Community Center in New Orleans, Brookline Food Co-Op in Boston, City Harvest in New York and Curley’s House Food Bank in Miami.

More information about Amtrak’s sustainability efforts can be found on its website.