WASHINGTON, March 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Empress of Soul, singer, actress and philanthropist, Gladys Knight will share her love of trains and join thousands of rail fans to celebrate the fourth annual National Train Day on May 7, 2011. Knight serves as the national spokesperson and will host the signature event at Washington, D.C.'s acclaimed Union Station where she will open the festivities.
Ever since recording her GRAMMY®-winning single, "Midnight Train to Georgia," which Gladys Knight and the Pips requested the name be changed from the original title "Midnight Plane to Houston," Knight has felt a deep connection to trains and wanted to partner with Amtrak.
"Trains are tightly woven into the history of our country and have definitely played a leading role in my life and career. I'm thrilled to be a part of the National Train Day celebrations, especially this year as Amtrak commemorates its 40th anniversary," says Knight.
"I'm a big fan of train travel," adds Knight. "I not only love the comfort and convenience of trains, but also like knowing that I'm doing my part to help the environment every time I choose to travel by rail."
"Gladys Knight is a natural fit for Amtrak and National Train Day. Just as her music bridges generations by connecting with young and old alike, Amtrak and trains connect people to one another – both onboard and from coast-to-coast," says David Lim, Chief Marketing Officer, Amtrak.
National Train Day commemorates the 142nd anniversary of the transcontinental railroad's inception by bringing to life the rich history of how trains have transformed America.
In addition to the Washington, D.C. event, Amtrak is hosting National Train Day festivities at other stations across the country – including Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Each free event in the four major markets takes place from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and will feature live entertainment, interactive and educational exhibits, kids' activities, model trains and tours of Amtrak equipment, freight and commuter trains, and notable private railroad cars.
"This year's event will kick-off the 40th anniversary of Amtrak and is an opportunity to celebrate the company's contributions to the history and future of passenger rail in this country," said Emmett Fremaux, Vice President – Marketing and Product Development, Amtrak. "National Train Day promises to delight the kid in all of us with a day dedicated to celebrating all things rail."
National Train Day Exclusive Exhibits
Events in the four major markets will feature an exclusive element to further excite and educate train enthusiasts, including:
- 40th Anniversary "Exhibit Train" (Washington, D.C.): Washington, D.C.'s National Train Day event will serve to launch the nationwide tour of the 40th anniversary "Exhibit Train." The exhibit will consist of two locomotives, three renovated baggage cars displaying historic advertising, uniforms, photos, and other memorabilia, and an Amtrak Bistro car to be used as a retail center and for various exhibits.
- B&O Railroad and the Civil War (Washington, D.C.): The B&O Railroad owned the only line into Washington, D.C. during the Civil War playing a critical role during the conflict. Abraham Lincoln made only five historic railroad journeys during his presidency – all across the B&O's line. This interactive exhibit is presented in partnership with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum.
- The Great Migration (Philadelphia): African-Americans migrated from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and West via passenger (and sometimes freight) trains during the early 20th century. This exhibit will chronicle The Great Migration, which lasted until 1930 and was a step in the full nationalization of the African-American population.
- East Meets West – The Chinese American in Railroad (Los Angeles): Archived photos, facts and stories of the 19th century Chinese contribution to the development of the railroad will be displayed at this exhibit in partnership with local Asian community and cultural organizations.
- California Missions (Los Angeles): The 21 California Missions along the El Camino Real (also known as The Royal Highway located between San Diego and San Francisco) will be showcased at this exhibit. A California Mission docent will be on hand to speak about the history of the Missions and their connection to the railroad and an Amtrak representative will speak about current travel routes and trips.
- Hands On The Past: Mexican Contributions To The Railroad (Chicago): During World War II, thousands of Mexicans came to the U.S. under a guest worker program called the "Railroad Braceros" to build and maintain our nation's passenger railroad system. This exhibit will honor their contributions to the nation's railroad.
National Train Day Exhibits
In addition to the exclusive exhibits, each signature event will include the following exhibits:
- State Partnership Display: Learn about how Amtrak partners with each state to provide specialized service. A locally-focused exhibit will be on display at each major National Train Day celebration.
- Amtrak High Speed Rail Display: Take a look at an exhibit that showcases Amtrak's leadership, expertise and experience with high speed rail.
- K-9 Unit Demonstrations: Witness Amtrak Security K-9 Units, one of the largest programs in the country, perform demonstrations with the dogs and their handlers.
- Amtrak: Dining the Rail Way: Catch a glimpse of the history of dining on trains, view live cooking demonstrations from Amtrak chefs and sample meals offered in Amtrak's dining cars.
- Train Equipment Displays: Get up close and personal with Amtrak equipment to experience first-hand the modern amenities and accommodations offered by passenger rail. Then take a peek at how passengers traveled in generations past by touring a variety of historic train cars and privately-owned luxury coaches. Commuter and freight equipment displays (featured in select markets) will highlight today's modern rail passenger services and how "green" locomotives are transforming the nation's freight fleet. For this exhibit, participants will be able to order tickets prior to the event at www.nationaltrainday.com.
- Model Train Displays: Delight in the craft of model train displays and take a closer look at these miniature masterpieces.
- Amtrak 40th Anniversary Display: On May 1, 2011, Amtrak will celebrate 40 years as America's Railroad(SM). Explore the history of Amtrak and find out more about the future of passenger rail, as well as current routes, amenities and onboard offerings.
- AmtraKids Depot: Attend Amtrak's 40th birthday party at the AmtraKids Depot and discover the kid in you by creating party decorations, engaging in fun arts and crafts and playing interactive games with surprise giveaways throughout the day.
Local communities nationwide are encouraged to develop and host their own National Train Day celebrations. More than 185 local celebrations took place in 2010. For more information, visit www.nationaltrainday.com.
Amtrak is America's Railroad, the nation's intercity passenger rail provider and its only high-speed rail operator. A record 28.7 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2010 on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates trains in partnership with 15 states and four commuter rail agencies. Amtrak also is a strong financial performer achieving an 85 percent cost-recovery ratio in FY 2010. Enjoy the journey at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Join us on Facebook at facebook.com/Amtrak and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/Amtrak.