Is Amtrak Safe?

While Amtrak is generally safe, stay alert, secure your belongings and report any suspicious activity.
Ramsey Qubein
By Ramsey Qubein 

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Amtrak operates much of the rail network across the United States, providing an alternative form of transportation to driving or flying. But is Amtrak safe? Let’s take a look at a few common questions people may have when they consider the safety of train travel with this company.

What is the Amtrak safety record?

Like other forms of public transportation, train companies, including Amtrak, have to conform to a series of standards to maintain safety and reliability.

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration oversees train travel in the United States and aims to assure a high level of train safety. It is also responsible for systemwide innovations and upgrades that can improve the experience and efficiency of train travel around the country. Amtrak must adhere to this body's regulations in order to operate.

Amtrak also has its own board of directors that oversees day-to-day operations and sets policy for the network. The U.S. Department of Transportation secretary (or an appointee) is also on the board.

Train crashes are unlikely, but they do happen. A 2013 study in the Research in Transportation Economics journal found that a person was 17 times more likely to die while traveling in a car compared with on a train. (That same study found that air travel is about 100 times safer than traveling by car). In short, derailments are scary, but are thankfully uncommon.

Does Amtrak have onboard and station security?

Amtrak offers onboard and station security, but you may not always see its staff in action. That’s because Amtrak has more than 400 employees both on the front lines and behind the scenes conducting safety measures. This includes Amtrak’s own police department, which is responsible for keeping passengers and train crew safe.

These employees work to deter crime on board trains as well as in and around Amtrak stations, for everyday safety and for events that may require additional support, like political conventions, large-scale community events or severe weather situations.

Is the Amtrak safe when traveling alone?

Yes, because of security patrols, it is generally safe to travel Amtrak alone. But, like in any situation, it is wise to remain vigilant and keep your eyes on personal belongings, regardless of the mode of transportation.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Luggage racks on trains can sometimes be out of sight, so it’s best to pack light so that you can keep your belongings as close as possible. If you can store them in an overhead rack, that’s even better.

Be extra aware when trains are approaching a station since someone could take your items and disembark. You can always contact an Amtrak employee if you notice something out of the ordinary or feel unsafe.

It’s wise to arrive at the station 20-30 minutes before departure so you can locate your departure platform and be fully aware of your surroundings. When you’re rushed, it’s easier to let your guard down.

A wise option for solo travelers is to choose a seat in the quiet car (if available), which limits conversation and cell phone use to provide a more comfortable travel experience. There’s no additional charge on most trains to sit here, and unless you are on Acela (the company's passenger train service along the Northeast Corridor), seats in the quiet cars are first-come, first-serve.

Another option is to purchase a business class seat for more exclusivity.

Is Amtrak safe at night?

It’s always wise to be aware of your surroundings, but like during the daytime, Amtrak employs its own security and police staff at night. The onboard staff can also address security concerns.

If you plan to sleep while on the train, be sure to protect your belongings and keep them near you as an added precaution.

On some trains, sleeper bunks or private cabins are an option and can provide more privacy and security.

Is there security at train stations?

Unlike at airports, there is usually no security check before boarding the train. This can be disconcerting for some, since it means there is no one reviewing what travelers bring aboard.

While Amtrak does prohibit certain items in carry-on bags aboard its trains, there’s generally no way to verify that passengers aren’t bringing them on the train. This means that your best chance of safety is being aware of your surroundings and reaching out to train staff if you notice something that feels off or worrying.

Amtrak safety, recapped

Generally speaking, Amtrak is a safe travel option. But, it’s wise to use good judgment and remain fully aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on personal belongings, and don’t hesitate to reach out to staff if you notice something out of the ordinary.

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