Revitalizing a brand to help restructure customer service.

To help Amtrak improve service across its entire national network, O+CO investigated opportunities for the future of passenger rail in the USA. Insight gained from business, commuter, and long-distance travel segments provided the basis to define types of service with a shared brand proposition. This established the basis for several customer-focused initiatives including: revised service standards, the Amtrak Guest Rewards loyalty program, training, newly designed uniforms, and more. We helped to integrate these operational upgrades with the development of a revised Amtrak brand, enabling the railroad to bring service enhancements to all parts of the customer experience.

Program Deliverables


“Amtrak carried a record 31.6 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2013, delivering nationwide benefits, providing vital transportation services, advancing America’s economy and demonstrating the value and convenience of the national passenger rail network. It is the tenth ridership record in 11 years.”

“During FY 2013, Amtrak’s state-supported corridor services grew to a new record of 15.4 million passengers. In addition, all long distance routes combined had the best ridership in 20 years with 4.8 million passengers. Ridership for all Northeast Corridor services reached 11.4 million passengers, the second best year ever. Also, FY 2013 produced eight individual monthly ridership records, the single best month in Amtrak history and new records on 20 routes. In addition, ticket revenue increased to a record $2.1 billion.”

“American passenger rail is in the midst of a renaissance. Ridership on Amtrak—the primary U.S. carrier—is now at record levels and growing fast… Amtrak ridership grew by 55 percent since 1997, faster than other major travel modes, and now carries over 31 million riders annually, an all-time high.”

Amtrak ridership graph

Percent change in Amtrak ridership, Real GDP, Domestic aviation, and Population growth since 1997

Source: Brookings analysis of BEA, Census, Amtrak, and DOT data

“Although faced with an uncertain future ever since its creation in 1971, Amtrak is reinventing itself. A new partnership between states and the federal government focused on improving operations and financial sustainability is taking hold. As a result, it has opened up a valuable and important debate about the very future of American passenger rail.”


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