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Project: Amtrak Subway Map


See the improved 2016 revision of this map!

Presenting the latest in my series of transit-styled diagrams (see also the Interstate System in the style of the London Underground and a Washington, DC Metro map redesign), the entire Amtrak passenger rail system in the style of a subway map.

Surprisingly, I haven’t seen another take on this anywhere else on the internet, but I guess it is a fairly monumental undertaking (Good thing I’m the patient type!). Every last station is shown, the result of a lot of research on both Amtrak’s official site and Wikipedia. Shown here are the two final versions of the map – one with all stations and routes listed, and one as more of an abstraction: simply the coloured route lines without any extraneous markings or text. The third image shows a detail of the map: the extremely congested and complex Northeast Corridor.

The other images attempt to show some of my working for a project of this scale. Once I compiled a list of all the routes and stations, I roughly plotted them on a map of the United States to see the geographical “lie of the land”. This also helped me work out where routes would sit in relation to each other to minimise line overlap on the final diagram. Once the routes were all plotted, I removed the underlying map to view only the routes: from here, it was just a matter of straightening and simplifying the routes to the 45-degree angles seen on most subway maps.

Zoomable On-line Preview of Amtrak Map Large JPG Preview of Amtrak Map

UPDATE – November 26, 2012: I’ve updated this map with the latest route and station information. Only minor changes: extended the Downeaster to Brunswick, Maine, added a second Santa Clara station (University) to the Capital Corridor route, a couple of stations dropped off the Keystone service, fixed a few timetabling errors and typos.

UPDATE – December 11, 2012: Another update to include the new Northeast Regional service to Norfolk, Virginia.

UPDATE – October 9, 2013: Update to the Pacific Surfliner route: deleted the Orange and Laguna Niguel stations; added Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad Poinsettia, Encinitas and Sorrento Valley stations. Removed Richmond from the Coast Starlight. Added Ardmore back to the Pennsylvanian route – Amtrak’s site lists it as serving that line (it seems that it stops there only on Sundays).

UPDATE – January 7, 2015: Updated the Vermonter route: added the new Greenfield and Northampton stations; and removed Amherst station.


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      • Mark P

        You got it…make that update and I’ll buy one of those for my office wall!

      • Mark P

        Has the Norfolk addition been made? It’s hard to tell from the small image on the society6 store.

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  6. Although it’s been quite a few months since you produced this, only now have I been made aware of it. The poster print is long since sold out, the flicker images of it are deliberately hobbled to prevent theft, and there does not appear to be any way that i can view the image full-size. How then am i to appreciate all the work you’ve put into it, if you’re so insistent on protecting your ownership of it? I would happily slap down cash to have one of these hung on my wall, but that option is denied me. If you’re the kind of guy who would design this out of personal interest, i challenge you to either continue selling poster prints, or release the image full-size so that those of us whom share your interest can truly enjoy it.

    • Drew,

      darn right I’m protecting my ownership of this! Having put hundreds of hours of my own time into it, I’d be mad not to. I make no apologies for protecting my hard work and intellectual property against theft or unauthorized use in any way that I see fit. If that means there’s a huge watermark across my map to stop people right-clicking it to their desktop and printing it out for themselves, then that’s just the way it is.

      If you’re a Flickr member, then you can easily view the image at the largest size I’m willing to put on the web (4000px wide, which is not small!). If you’re not a Flickr member, then I guess you can follow this sneaky link to look at the big image.

      If you’d been to the Flickr page, then you also should have seen that while I am not selling prints personally, you can get them at the Silver Rails Gallery shop. I have licensed the posters to them and they are almost identical to the ones I sold myself.

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  10. Hey, this is amazing. I blog about traveling all of these routes, and they can get very confusing, so this is beautiful and functional both. Well done.
    Provincial Supertramp

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  17. Hi Cameron,

    I was wondering if I could talk to you about some of the maps you’ve designed for our blog, If you could send me an email, I would like to cover your work in a post this week.



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  19. One more minor typo:

    Hermann, MO (not Herman) — it’s an old German river town. And you even got the new name of that route correct — Missouri River Runner! (I just rode it last week, and it was actually on time, which restored my faith in Amtrak just a teeny bit).

    But all in all, a great job! I like your Washington DC Metro map too, mostly better than the original, as much as I like the original.

  20. Jim

    One more typo… It’s Meriden, CT not Meridien. A terrific job by the way and I hope Amtrak decides to license this from you for its own schedules and maps.

  21. Justin

    Outstanding work! This is my first time on your site and I hope the Amtrak Subway Map, as well as the Geographically accurate Amtrak maps, will be for sale soon. These are both very unique. Job well done. Please let us know as soon as they can be purchased.

    1 quick correction for you as well:
    -The Cardinal does not stop at Burke Centre, VA

    • Justin,

      thanks for your visit and your comment. I’ve already had the Cardinal/Burke Centre error pointed out to me, so rest assured it will be fixed on the final poster. Still: one typo and one scheduling error so far – not too shabby!

      • Justin

        Given the complexity of the map and the number of the destinations I would say its nothing short of amazing!

  22. Ryan

    Looking forward to the poster!

    I think the angled station names are a good compromise. Doing all-horizontal for the Michigan Services would require some serious spatial exaggeration, and I think it’s important to maintain a semblance of geographic accuracy, as you have.

  23. I did mean it when i wrote that type not horizontal is a fail. I’m sure you can fit all horizontal type into the Amtrak diagram as well. There seems to be plenty of space, even in the Northeast. Alternate one name above and one below the lines, as London does or Berlin.

    • Ouch! Well, I guess I can’t win ’em all.

      In principle, I think you’re right, Erik: the only problematic area would be the Michigan Services out of Chicago towards Detroit… everything is pretty tight around there. Also, I wonder whether alternating names above and below route lines would force me into using “ticks” for stations to make things clear which is which… I’m pretty happy with the simple elegance of dots for stations where trains stop. Still, food for thought: a good designer should never assume that his first solution is the best one – thanks for reminding me of that!

  24. Mike Edelson

    The stations are unreadable even with enlargment before the station names pixelate.
    How do I get to see the station names?
    I am using Microsoft Photo Editor…

  25. Cascadia

    Very cool to see! Thanks for your hard work. When you have posters for sale, I’d be interested to know. Saw the link to this at Amtrak Unlimited Forum.

  26. MrFSS

    Thanks for letting us link to your Amtrak map. As you mentioned on our forum, a lot of interest in it.

    Consider joining our forum, we’d love to have you be a member.

    MrFSS (Tom) AU Forum Manager

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    • I’ll definitely send interested parties an email announcing when posters are available. Shouldn’t be long: I just have to do some test prints to make sure everything’s okay first.

  28. Andrew

    Looks very nice, one comment so far: You misspelled Ottumwa. 🙂 Also, I’m curious, it looks simplish on the map, what was the problem with linking Capital Corridor and San Joaquin? And I agree, the southern end of the Northeast Corridor looks like hell to plot out.

    • Andrew, if that’s the only spelling error, I’ll be well pleased! Well spotted!

      The San Joaquin/Capitol Corridor problems were mainly to do with which trains stopped where and how the split in the San Joaquin route at Stockton worked. Quite a few hastily scribbled diagrams to make sure I had it all worked out properly!

  29. Very nice! 🙂

    I`m from Rio de Janeiro and here we have a poor subway sistem, so i`ve decide to dream a little and create a utpic subway sistem in a map.
    Here ( I talk about all the problens in my city`s transoport, but it`s in portuguese so I don`t know if you`ll e able to read it. But I`ve done similar map sutdies to first, think were the lines should be and then to draw a clearer map of them, based mostly on the london underground witch I think, uses the most suitable features and simbols. Those 45º do the charm indeed.

    Map 1:
    Map 2:
    Final map:

    You will notice that most o the stations don`t have names becouse they don`t actualy exist, but I`ve left a space for those names. I even name some, and of course included the existing stations names.

    If you like it just post a comment or send me an e-mail.

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