Stations are a key factor in travelers’ perception of Amtrak and the towns we serve. Historically, stations have acted as the gateways to our communities, and many continue to occupy prominent downtown locations.

A station’s condition reflects on the station owner, community and Amtrak; therefore, it is in the best interest of these stakeholders to ensure stations are well-maintained and appropriately branded.

Amtrak holds to the service philosophy of the Seamless Journey, which defines trip quality and modal choice relating to stations. Every passenger journey is defined by ten factors that make up the Seamless Journey. Station design is essential to the successful completion of seven of the steps and takes into account the various needs of passengers.

The Amtrak Seamless Journey


Station Program and Planning Guidelines

Developed and refined over many years, the Amtrak Station Program and Planning Guidelines are meant to assist local governments, transportation agencies and authorities, design professionals, Amtrak staff and other stakeholders in the planning, design, construction, rehabilitation and redevelopment of Amtrak-served passenger stations and related facilities. Intended to be flexible guidelines rather than a set of specifications, they establish design standards and criteria for stations, platforms and the station site.

The Guidelines address design philosophy, program and functional criteria, and specific planning issues related to passenger rail stations. Standards, codes and other requirements may be referenced, but are not included on this website, and should be obtained and taken into consideration during the design and construction phases of project development.

The Station Program and Planning Guidelines cover the following topics:

  • The Process – Discusses the Amtrak station planning and design process, including a description of the typical stakeholders with interests in the station, and financial and funding considerations.
  • Amtrak System – Describes the types of passenger service and related equipment that serve Amtrak stations.
  • Station Categories – Describes the four Amtrak-defined station facility types, ranging from large staffed stations to unstaffed shelters and adjacent platforms, based on annual ridership thresholds and level of staffing.
  • Program – Describes the Amtrak station program components. Includes space and function components, relationships between components and circulation requirements.
  • Site – Discusses multi-modal and transit oriented development, parking, sustainability, and design and security.
  • Station – Includes guidance for all station design issues, including space programming, functional relationships, circulation elements and materials and finishes.
  • Platform – Includes guidance for the platforms and canopies.

Alliance, Ohio, station.The station in Alliance, Ohio, is based on an Amtrak prototype for a shelter-type station.

Amtrak is available to support communities in the station design and development process. In addition to the Guidelines, Amtrak can provide:

  • Prototype station designs
  • Engineering standards
  • Plan review and approval
  • Coordination with host railroads
  • Funding and grant support
  • Joint planning support, and
  • General consultation

If you have any questions about this document, please contact the Amtrak Station Planning group.

A special note to city/town officials, planners, architects and engineers working on a station project: even if your project is only in the visioning phase, please contact the Station Planning group to ensure Amtrak is aware of your proposal.

We Love Feedback

ee255f0e-727a-460a-a5bb-6ee451c410acWe’re always looking for ways Amtrak can help with your station program. If you have feedback, or just find something here at Great American Stations useful, we’d love to hear from you.

Email us at and let us know what you think today.