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Amtrak Reveals Progress on Sustainability Initiatives



Amtrak has released its FY2020 Sustainability Report, outlining its many efforts to reduce its environmental impact more than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company was operating at record ridership at the outset of fiscal year 2020 but saw ridership plummet by as much as 97 percent from fiscal year 2019 levels due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Amtrak’s reduced service meant less fuel and electricity use last year, resulting in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions declining by 14 percent. The company has reduced its GHG emissions by 31 percent since 2010 and is eyeing a GHG reduction target of 40 percent by the end of the decade.


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Highlights include Amtraks’ Moynihan Train Hall project, which focuses on sustainability as the design team is pursuing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Transit certification. The main concourse boasts loads of natural light and spacious rooms with ceilings as high as 92 feet and overhead parabolic skylights. The latter was developed by reusing the building’s steel trusses. LED lights are used on the train information displays while the escalators are equipped with smart features such as heaters and a “sleep mode” designed to save energy and increase the machine’s durability.

Amtrak is also focusing on Climate Resilience Planning. Beginning last year, Amtrak outlined a comprehensive strategy to pull together resiliency work already underway and set out a plan and goals for the future, the company said, with the aim to understand current business vulnerabilities, develop near term adjustments to business practices and longer term adaptations as well as galvanizing its viability as a safe and reliable mode of transportation amid changing climate conditions.

What’s more, Amtrak’s Los Angeles team reached out to a local food rescue partner, Food Finders, to collect perishable items, linens and towels and joined forces 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, to prevent perishable food from becoming waste.

“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,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “Investment decisions made today position us to achieve these goals. These visions and our strong sustainability story continue to evolve and grow every year.”

Earlier this spring, Amtrak proposed new routes and enhanced services under President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan.

Click here to view Amtrak’s complete FY2020 Sustainability Report.

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