Amtrak’s Staffing Jumps 22 Percent Since Pandemic, Salaries by More than $500 Million

Amtrak Train
by Shirleen Guerra


Amtrak has seen a 22% increase in its employee count while salaries and benefits have increased by more than $500 million in the past four years – to $2.69 billion in 2023.

Amtrak, known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, serves more than 500 destinations in 46 separate states covering more than 21,400 miles nationwide.

The cost of salaries, wages, and benefits in 2019 were a reported $2.17 billion before the pandemic. Salaries, wages and benefits increased to $2.69 billion in the fiscal year 2023 report. Total compensation of the average Amtrak employee – which includes salaries and benefits – was $118, 678 in 2023.

During Amtrak’s rebound from the pandemic, the transport agency reported 18,600 employees in 2019. That number has increased by 22% since the pandemic, reaching 22,658 employees as of 2023.

Amtrak directed comments made by Stephen Gardner, chief executive officer, made June 12 at congressional hearing.

“The biggest factor in our increased costs is the higher wages we are paying to our agreement-covered employees, which are mostly due to the cost-of-living adjustments included in the new labor agreements we have entered into the with the unions that represent the majority of our non-management employees,” Gardner said at that hearing.

Gardner also addressed the increasing costs Amtrak has faced.

“Since 2019, the consumer price index has increased by 23%. The increases in costs for many of the goods and services that drive Amtrak’s operating expenses, such as the diesel fuel and electricity that power our trains and insurance and self-insurance, have been 5 even higher than that,” he said. “Amtrak is also incurring significant costs in areas for which its expenditures were relatively small just a few years ago. For example, projected cybersecurity costs in 2024 are nearly seven times what they were in 2019.”

Amtrak has highlighted accomplishments throughout their workforce emphasizing on inclusion and culture and the increase in overall diverse representation including women and people of color, reporting 56.53% diverse representation in 2023.

The transport agency hired more than 4,800 employees in 2023 through recruitment programs and saw an employee turnover rate of 9.3% according to the same report.

Amtrak is looking to double its ridership to 66 million by 2040.

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Shirleen Guerra is a staff reporter for The Center Square. Shirleen attended Odessa College where she completed an apprenticeship through The Odessa American where she previously freelanced.





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