Behind the Scenes at Amtrak: How the Rail Giant Turns Trains Around

PHOTO: An Amtrak train is pictured in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.PlayMark Makela/Getty Images
WATCH Turning Trains for Thanksgiving: Behind the Scenes at Amtrak

With an estimated 750,000-plus passengers set to travel on its rails this week, Amtrak is preparing for a busy holiday season.

Interested in Amtrak?

Add Amtrak as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Amtrak news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

"Thanksgiving is our busiest time of the year," Amtrak Assistant Superintendent of Road Operations T.C. Williamson told ABC News.

Moving that many people means a lot of work behind the scenes. After passengers disembark, the train begins what rail workers call the "scrub and shove."

"You'll take a train out to wash it, that's the scrub process. And you'll turn it the opposite direction and shove back," Williamson explained.

First, the train chugs through a super-sized "car wash," then proceeds on to execute a three-point-turn through a triangular junction called a "wye," while crews clean and restock the train for the return trip. When it returns to the terminal, the engineer checks the breaks, and waits for new passengers to board. At a minimum, this process takes 30 to 45 minutes.

"They're back to back to back," Williamson said. "This time of year, this is not easy. It's a lot of coordination. ... But it's just what we do every day, so we get through it!"