The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (better known as Amtrak) is a for-profit corporation that operates intercity passenger rail services in 46 states and the District of Columbia, in addition to serving as a contractor in various capacities for several commuter rail agencies. [Rail service in Alaska is operated by the Alaska Railroad Corporation.] Amtrak was created by Congress in the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970 and incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1971, assuming the common carrier obligations of the private railroads (which found passenger service to be generally unprofitable) in exchange for the right to priority access of their tracks for incremental cost.
Amtrak's Board of Directors sets corporate policy and oversees the management of the company. The board is made up of seven voting members appointed for five-year terms by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The President has appointed the Secretary of Transportation as one of the board members.
The Federal Railroad Administration provides analytical support to the Secretary or designee, as a member of the Amtrak Board of Directors. FRA is also responsible for administering federal grants to Amtrak , which has led to increased FRA oversight of Amtrak spending since Fiscal Year 2003.