Happening Now

Hotline #1,117

May 17, 2019

Infrastructure Talks To Resume Next Week; FRA Attempts To Claw-Back $928M From California High Speed Rail; Amtrak & NJ Transit Plan NEC Improvements; New, Better Coordinated, Schedules For The San Joaquins; National Park Service On-Board 'Trails & Rails' Program To Continue In 2019

Tell Us What’s Happening Where You Live’! When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We include them in our social media efforts, along with the weekly Hotline. Send your news items to Joe Aiello at jaiello[at]narprail.org, and we will share it with members. Are you holding a rally, a community meeting, or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. We can put them on the website, here. Please follow Rail Passengers on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things passenger rail.


President Donald Trump is scheduled to reconvene with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on May 22 to advance talks over a $2 trillion infrastructure push.

While the first meeting between the two sides on April 30 resulted in an agreement to target $2 trillion in investment to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, both parties have acknowledged the difficulty of identifying revenue to pay for the proposal.

Conservative groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Trucking Association and other business groups have endorsed a hike in the gas tax as the only realistic path to raising significant revenue in the near term; even so, Congressional GOP leadership has said they’ll fight the proposal.

As for the timing, members of Congress are skeptical of a stated goal to get the bill passed before the end of July, saying work would need to continue into the fall.

“It’s premature for me to think we’re going to get something on the floor until we have something to get on the floor, and we haven’t gotten there yet,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. “It would be unrealistic to expect next week, one meeting everybody agrees.”


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) officially announced on Thursday that it as terminating a 2010 agreement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority and thus was de-obligating $929 million in federal grants already awarded not yet paid out for the Authority’s High-Speed Rail project. In addition, the FRA statement said it “continues to consider all options regarding the return of $2.5 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds awarded to CHSRA.”

In the release on the agreement termination, FRA stated that Rail Authority “repeatedly failed to comply with the terms of the FY10 agreement and has failed to make reasonable progress on the project. Additionally, California has abandoned its original vision of a high-speed passenger rail service connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, which was essential to its applications for FRA grant funding.”

This move follows President Trump’s call in February for California to return the entire $3.5 billion in federal funds awarded for the high-speed rail project.

In response, California Governor Gavin Newsom stated “The Trump administration’s action is illegal and a direct assault on California, our green infrastructure, and the thousands of Central Valley workers who are building this project,…this is California’s money, appropriated by Congress, and we will vigorously defend it in court,”

Construction is well underway on the central artery of the planned San Francisco to Los Angeles system; a 119-mile section in the state’s Central Valley. More than $6 billion has already been spent on the high-speed rail project.


CAHSRA Chair Lenny Mendonca on Building a Better Tomorrow Today


On May 14th Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT announced a joint $31 million investment to improve railroad infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey and to conduct renewal work throughout spring and summer 2019 as part of their ongoing partnership. The work, which will lead to improved conditions for travelers, will be conducted throughout the state from the north end with projects at Newark Penn Station and trouble-prone Portal Bridge to the southern portion of the state with projects in Trenton. This extensive work and significant financial investment serve as the latest example of the cooperative relationship between NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak to enhance the customer experience for both commuter and intercity rail customers.

Specifics of the infrastructure improvement projects, to be undertaken by Amtrak crews, along the NEC in New Jersey include:

  • A tie replacement program on tracks 1 and 4 at Newark Penn Station starting May 20, with concrete ties and anchors to be installed.

  • A total timber deck replacement on tracks 2 and 3 on Portal Bridge over this coming this summer.

  • Beginning August 5th there will be extensive timber and switch replacement work at Fair Interlocking, located in Trenton.

  • Continued work on the NJ High Speed Rail Program, which includes installation of constant tension catenary for all four tracks between County (in New Brunswick) and Midway (in Monmouth Junction/South Brunswick) Interlockings and between Midway and CP Clark (in West Windsor), and between CP Clark and Ham (in Trenton), allowing for improved reliability, capacity and higher speeds for Amtrak & NJ Transit trains, including the upcoming Acela II Generation fleet, which will enter service in 2021.


Public transportation options just expanded for residents of Portland, Freeport, and Brunswick, Maine as the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) and Greater Portland Metro sign a deal to coordinate scheduling and pricing between the Downeaster and METRO BREEZ bus service. The agreement will create a seamless fare structure (a topic our Northeast Field Coordinator, Joe Aiello, has spoken about in his blog) that allows passengers to purchase one-way, ten-ride, and monthly passes and transfer from train to bus and vice versa without extra cost. The Amtrak Downeaster makes five round-trips daily between Brunswick, ME and Boston, MA and the METRO BREEZ provides express bus service between Portland, Yarmouth, Freeport, and Brunswick with 13 round trips Monday through Friday and seven on Saturday.

The Amtrak Downeaster makes five round-trips daily between Brunswick, ME and Boston, MA and METRO BREEZ provides express bus service between Portland, Yarmouth, Freeport, and Brunswick with 13 round trips Monday through Friday and seven on Saturday.

You can read the NNEPRA press release here.


Rail Passengers Track Update: Where are we and what’re we working on? This section will give you updates on what Rail Passengers HQ is up to.

  • Jim Mathews, President & CEO, is speaking on Saturday at the Rail Passengers’ Northwest Division Meeting, and he took advantage this week of his trip to Cut Bank, MT, on the Capitol Limited and Empire Builder to meet with Amtrak managers along with donors and partners in Chicago. He was accompanied on part of the journey by our new Resource Development Director Jonsie Stone. Jonsie commutes daily on the Virginia Railway Express and has been a frequent Northeast Corridor rider, but had never taken an overnight, long-distance train trip.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, coordinated Rail Passengers’ response to the misguided nomination of former-Congressman Todd Rokita, and traveled to Richmond to take part in Rail Users Network’s Commonwealth Rail Summit where he delivered an update on Fiscal Year 2020 transportation appropriations.

  • Abe Zumwalt, Rail Passengers Director of Policy Research, would again like to take this opportunity to remind hotline readers that 70% of American passenger trains run on freight railroads, and the majority of new service expansions for American passenger trains will run on America’s freight rail network. Despite this, relatively few people in the passenger rail industry have direct experience on the freight side, crucial to finding essential common ground.

    This is partly why, after six years with the Rail Passengers Association, Abe Zumwalt is moving on to consulting work that will give him direct experience in both passenger and freight rail industries. He will continue to be involved with the association with ongoing economic impact analysis of the national network, and through volunteer advocacy.

    He is intensely grateful for the opportunity to be of service to so many colleagues that have become close friends, and will carry the mission of the association with him throughout his professional career. His last day full day with the Association will be Tuesday, May 21st.

  • Discussions with Amtrak managers have continued for Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs. Carolyn continues vetting and scheduling ACAC Customer Service Award presentations for June, July, August and September 2019. Carolyn has also been busy tackling questions relating to the onlineTravelReview.

  • Joseph Aiello, Rail Passengers Northeast Field Coordinator, testified this week before the MA Joint Committee on Transportation in support of Bill S.2054, “An Act to examine the feasibility of rail service between North Adams, Greenfield and Boston.” You can read Joe’s statement here.

  • Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Vice-President of Operations, continued working on Rail Nation California being held in Sacramento, Friday, October 18 through Monday, October 21, 2019. Discounted group-rate room reservations at the host hotel, the historic Sheraton Grand Downtown, are now available. Complete information on the event registration and the optional tours to be offered will posted on the event webpage in the coming days!

  • Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, took my first overnight train trip on the Capitol Limited to Chicago. It was a wonderful experience and I look forward to more. I’ve got to figure out how to sleep on a train so please share what has worked for you. I joined Jim in the meetings he mentioned above and schedules allowed me to meet with a long time member after Jim departed.


The Rail Passengers Association would like to welcome Talgo, Inc as our new Annual Partner.


The Illinois DOT has bowed to local opposition to the building of sidings in Glenview and Lake Forest that are necessary for the expansion of Chicago to Milwaukee Hiawatha Service frequencies from the current seven rounds trips per day to ten daily round trips.

Patch.com reported on May 10 that acting IDOT Secretary Omer Osman said in a letter, released by officials in both communities, that “IDOT will not agree to the freight holding tracks in either Glenview or Lake Forest, and you have my commitment that IDOT will not be moving forward seeking federal support for this project.”

But yesterday, the Milwaukee Business News reported that Wisconsin and Illinois are now in talks to come up with alternatives to the planned expansion of Amtrak’s Hiawatha service.

In the reporting, IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell confirmed the department is still interested at looking at other options that would allow the Hiawatha service to be expanded. These options, however, would need to omit the controversial holding tracks. “The department is a strong supporter of passenger rail service on this line and will be working with the lead agency on the project, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, on other possible solutions to improve service,” IDOT said in a statement sent by Tridgell via email.

Tridgell said IDOT’s position does not mean it would actively oppose any federal grant applications that Wisconsin submits related to the expansion project.

Also included in the reporting, Arun Rao, passenger rail manager for WisDOT, said the department was likewise aware of IDOT’s concerns with the expansion project. “We are continuing to proceed with plans to increase frequencies with the Hiawatha service and are working with IDOT and the railroads to continue to do that,” he said. Rao added there weren’t any details yet on what exactly the alternative plans might look like.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers made clear his administration’s support for expanding the Hiawatha line by including in his 2019-21 budget plan $45 million in bonding to go toward the project. The money would be used as matching funds for federal grants that would cover the remaining project costs.


Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), the parent company of the recently branded Virgin Trains USA, have changed some of their long-term real estate goals after striking a deal with California-based Shorenstein to sell off a portion of their MiamiCentral station complex. The near $160M deal is for two office towers with over 150,000 sq ft of open commercial space, ground-floor retail, and parking. FECI will still continue to operate the train station and rail service and the deal is thought to be another way for them to recoup losses due to not meeting ridership goals.


We Are In This Together

Advocating for a better rail system across state lines

May 16, 2019

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator

On May 4th (May The Fourth Be With You), I had the pleasure of joining nearly 50 other passenger rail advocates for the Northeast Division membership meeting. The meeting, co-sponsored by the Association and our good friends at TrainRiders/Northeast, was held in at Maria’s Family Restaurant in Haverhill, MA - a stop along the MBTA Haverhill Line as well as “America’s Favorite Train”, the Downeaster.

This was the third such meeting that I have been apart of in my time as Rail Passengers Councilor/Staff (all three have been in Massachusetts, so it’s time to move around - right?).

To read more about the meeting, click here.


A 18-mile light rail project planned since the 1990s is now dead thanks to Duke University officials refusing to sign a required cooperative agreement between the 11 project partners of Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit (DOLRT). The University has also declined to participate in a negotiation with GoTriangle, the region’s transportation authority. Since its original design process, over $130M in taxpayer money has already been spent, which includes voters passing two separate ballot measures to fund transportation projects and improvements. Construction on the DOLRT, estimated at a cost of $2.7 billion - including a $1.25 billion federal payment, was to start early next year.

While GoTriangle has been scrambling to find alternative next steps, elected officials have been very critical of the University’s decision to withdraw project support. Durham Mayor Steve Schewel called the light rail project a “quality of life” issue and feared needing to go back to the drawing board if a new way forward isn’t found. School President Vincent Price sent a letter to GoTrangle with concerns of a track alignment that ran directly adjacent to Duke’s medical center and said that construction issues may too much of a disruption to some of the equipment being used in the complex. The Chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners, Wendy Jacobs, questioned the timing of the University’s concerns because they have been involved in planning for many years and signed a non-binding agreement with the authority in 2016.

All is not lost in NC

While the DOLRT project has seemingly come to an end, there are a number of bus projects that hope to fill in some of the gaps for urban and rural communities. Durham County is spending $8.6 million on projects, such as: upgrades and expansion of their current bus routes, a subsidized rural vanpool service, and improvements to various transit centers in Durham. Orange County, which includes Chapel Hill, drafted a similar transit plan of $5.8 million for expanded bus service, new vehicles, and upgrades to the Hillsborough Amtrak station.

The NC Department of Transportation recently released a video promoting its statewide vision for public transportation. You can view that video below.


It’s an evergreen flaw in policy, or perhaps the oldest trick in the book if you’re inclined to conspiracy. Legislators will provide upfront capital expenditures, but little for ongoing operations in almost any given social program.

One of our largest such programs, the ongoing process of expanding our interstate highway system, happens to fall victim to this as well. The machine that made the interstate highway system in this country possible has continued to replicate its feverish expansion nationwide.

Our friends over at Transportation 4 America have produced an impressive report showing that, reminiscent of the ‘sorcerer’s apprentice’ children’s fable, we haven’t succeeded in directing the highway machine to fix what we’ve already created. It should be used to (figuratively) hit every elected over the head who claims adherence to a responsible “fix it first” policy.

According to the report, we need over $230 Billion to simply keep our existing massive road system in a state of good repair, while less than half of that is appropriated to the system, and only part of ultimate appropriation is dedicated to maintenance. The system is bankrupt, as with each expansion comes more bills down the line for which there is no financing authorized.

In some years, Congress has easily spent more time debating Amtrak’s 1% fraction of the sums discussed above than addressing this growing crisis. These are all important things to keep in mind for your next conversation with a congressional staffer in your district.


The planned replacement of the century-old Hudson River Tunnels has constantly fallen victim to the rules but in place by the Trump administration. The Gateway Project sits near the bottom of a Department of Transportation list of 37 projects, all vying for federal funding though loans and grant programs. Statements from DOT officials make it clear that they feel that Gateway relies too heavily on money from U.S. taxpayers - through those issues have not stopped other projects around the country.

Click here to see the Association's one-pager on the Gateway Project.


Our Best Fall Meeting Yet! Make Plans Now For Rail Nation California in Sacramento, Friday, October 18 - Monday, October 21.

Planning has been in high gear for the past few months, and we think this is truly going to be our best meeting yet! Over the four-day gathering, passenger rail advocates from across the country will take in area tours and trips, in addition to participating in Saturday’s all-day Advocacy Symposium. Great speakers will talk about both history and the future, and real hands-on workshops will give you the tools you need to go back home and fight for passenger rail! The Association’s Council of Representatives will hold its fall business meeting on Sunday morning.

Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations at the host hotel, the historic Sheraton Grand Downtown, are now available.

Watch for more information and details coming soon!


Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:

Please contact Bruce Becker to have a state or regional event or meeting added to the Rail Passengers calendar of upcoming events!


As this story is buried in this edition of the hotline, you can assume correctly that legislators didn’t jump in and decide to holistically bolster the US railcar manufacturing industry in the face of Chinese undercutting competition. However, it does seem as if rail agencies will in fact be barred from ordering what has recently been by far the cheapest equipment, as the House has joined the Senate in its global concern.

Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.)and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)held a hearing on the subject of state owned interests in railcar manufacturing for passenger rail, and potentially on the freight side as well.

So, to get this straight, US transit and passenger rail agencies are supposed to operate as efficiently as possible with uneven funding. This has resulted, as any passenger in the United States knows, with fleets that would be considered rolling museums in other countries. Normally, a bidding war for new equipment would engender the sort of efficiency that would serve to eliminate ‘government waste’… but because a hidden agenda of the Chinese government is seen to behind more affordable transit equipment, it now takes a back seat.

While the hearing worth a watch, what’s better is to directly ask your representatives for more and reliable rail equipment funding so domestic railcar manufacturers are less vulnerable to this kind of sniping.


Amtrak San Joaquins Improves On-Time Performance and Southern California Connectivity with New Schedule

Amtrak San Joaquins will be changing its schedules on May 20 to improve on-time performance, enhance statewide connectivity, and make rail travel convenient for the greatest number of travelers. The new schedule will return the San Joaquins to seven full-corridor round-trips per day which amounts to five trips between Bakersfield and Oakland, and two trips between Bakersfield and Sacramento. The new schedule will offer departures every two-hours from Bakersfield, Oakland, and Sacramento. This new two-hour schedule offers increased time performance consistency and allows for trains to pass at double-track sections. Ensuring that passenger trains can pass on double-track sections improves overall on-time performance.

Returning the San Joaquins to seven full-corridor round-trips and adjusting the timing of select trains will also increase connectivity to Southern California, a key market for the San Joaquins service. With an extensive Thruway Bus network operating throughout the state and the highest concentration of service in the Southern California region, there are increased opportunities to offer a more convenient option for travelers.

“With increased population growth in both the bay area and throughout all of California, we recognize the need to offer better connectivity,” said David Lipari, marketing manager for the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. “Designed to improve on-time performance and connectivity across the Bay Area, Sacramento, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, we are proud to offer a more convenient and timely solution that meets the growing needs of riders.”

Major changes to train times are detailed below. The revised San Joaquins schedule, effective May 20, 2019 can be found here. Other train times will be adjusted accordingly, and all Thruway Buses will be adjusted for better performance and improved travel options. The following trains are affected:

Northbound:

  • Train 701 will depart Bakersfield 4 hours and 3 minutes earlier than Train 1701’s original time

    • Train 1701 is cancelled

  • Train 703 will depart 12 hours and 12 minutes later from Bakersfield

  • Train 711 will depart 8 minutes earlier from Bakersfield

  • Train 713 and 717 will depart 48 minutes earlier from Bakersfield

  • Train 719 will depart 58 minutes earlier from Bakersfield

Southbound:

  • Train 702 will depart 6 hours and 15 minutes earlier from Sacramento

  • Train 704 will depart 1 hour and 4 minutes earlier from Sacramento

  • Train 710, 712 and 714 will depart 2 hours and 1 minute later from Oakland

  • Train 715 will depart 12 minutes later from Bakersfield

  • Train 716 will depart 59 minutes earlier from Oakland

  • Train 718 will depart 19 minutes earlier from Oakland

  • Train 1718 is cancelled


A new five-year agreement between the National Park Service and Amtrak will allow the popular on-board ‘Trails and Rails Program’ to continue, Trains Magazine News Wire reported this week.

“It seems like we now have a steady source of contact folks at Amtrak in Washington, D.C., to serve as liaisons that can help move the program along,” Trails and Rails National Director Jim Miculka told the Trains News Wire. Communication had previously ended last year when Amtrak eliminated marketing department personnel as part of company wide cost cutting.

The overall future of the program had been made unclear after Amtrak decided in 2018 to withdraw what had been complimentary food and overnight lodging expense payments for the program’s volunteers on several western national network trains.


Amtrak announced this week a summer season ‘Buy One; Get One Free’ fare sale aimed at boasting off-peak, Saturday, ridership along the Northeast Corridor. The special ‘two for one’ companion fares are available on both Acela (in business class) and Northeast Regional (in coach class) trains on Saturdays only from May 18 through September 7. Reservations must be made by June 5th and require a three day advance purchase.

And Amtrak, in partnership with New York State’s ‘I Love New York’ tourism campaign and New York By Rail continues to offer a 15% discount off all regular coach fares for travel across New York State on Empire Service trains, on the Maple Leaf (from New York to Niagara Falls, NY), on the Ethan Allen Express (within New York State) and on the Adirondack (including to & from Montreal, QC). A five-day advance purchase is required and black-out dates do apply.


PASSENGER SERVICE NOTICES

Lake Shore Limited Trains 448 and 449

Track Work Affects Service Sunday through Thursday - May 19 through August 1, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers:

Track work being performed by CSX will affect Trains 448 and 449 between Albany and Boston, as follows:

Train 448 Albany – Boston Service: May 19-23, 27-30; June 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30; July 1- 3, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28 - August 1. Bus service will operate from Albany to Boston on the above dates.

Customers who are traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston (South Station) will get off the train at Albany on the dates above. At Albany, bus service will be provided to and from all stations listed above. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stop of Framingham. Passengers traveling to Back Bay will be bussed to Boston and then may take an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train between Boston and Back Bay.

Holiday Exceptions:

  • Memorial Day Train 448 will operate normally to Boston on Sunday, May 26

  • Independence Day Train 448 will operate normally to Boston on July 4

Train 449 Boston – Albany Service: May 20-23, 28-30; June 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27; July 1-3, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29 - August 1

Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany on the dates above. Passengers boarding at Boston (South Station), Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield will be provided bus service to Albany. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops at Back Bay and Framingham. Passengers traveling from Back Bay will have the option of boarding at Boston or traveling on alternate dates.

Boston (South Station) and Worcester

  • Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

  • Passengers at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the Bus Terminal.

Please Note: There will be no Business Class or sleeping car to/from Boston during this period

I-5 Construction Affects Cascades POINT Bus Service

Effective May 20 through September 30, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers:

Highway I-5 construction scheduled to begin on May 20 will affect Amtrak’s Cascades and Oregon’s POINT bus service between Eugene and Portland. Adjustments are being made to schedules to allow time for connections to Amtrak Cascades trains, as outlined below.

Northbound:

  • Bus 5502 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 15 minutes earlier at 5:15am, on Saturday and Sunday, only.

    • Eugene Station will not be open for the departure of Bus 5502

  • There will be no checked baggage available for Bus 5502 at any stop

  • Bus 5504 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 1 hour earlier, at 7:25am Monday through Friday, only.

  • Bus 5506 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 30 minutes earlier at 2:00 pm

  • Bus 5518 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 1 hour earlier at 10:55 am

  • Bus 5528 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 1 hour earlier at 12:15 pm

  • Bus 5544 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 15 minute earlier at 7:15 am

Southbound:

  • Bus 5541 will depart Portland Union Station 1 hour earlier at 6:00 am

  • If you are boarding at Woodburn, Salem or Albany the schedule may have changed. Be sure to check Amtrak.com or Amtrak’s mobile app prior to travel for updated times.

Downeaster Service Weekend Schedule Change - Beginning May 20, 2019

Attention Amtrak Customers:

Downeaster trains listed below will see schedule changes on weekends beginning May 20, including adding a seasonal stop at Old Orchard Beach.

Northbound:

  • Train 691 will operate 35 minutes earlier

  • Train 693 will now provide service to Brunswick and will operate 50 minutes earlier from Portland to Boston

  • Train 695 will operate 5 minutes later

  • Train 697 will operate 10 minutes later

Southbound:

  • Trains 690 and 692 will operate 30 minutes earlier

  • Train 694 will operate 60 minutes later

  • Train 696 will now provide service to Brunswick and will operate 35 minutes later from Boston to Portland

  • Train 698 will operate 5 minutes earlier

Please note: Beginning June 24, Downeaster trains will add stops at Woburn.

City of New Orleans Trains 58 and 59

Busing between Jackson and New Orleans

Until Further Notice

Please be advised that CN railway closed the route used by Amtrak City of New Orleans due to planned emergency flood control. Amtrak-chartered buses are being provided between Jackson and New Orleans as substitute transportation for Trains 58 and 59. Normal train service will resume as soon as possible.

Passengers will be provided bus service in both directions between Jackson, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven, McComb, Hammond and New Orleans. Passengers traveling north from New Orleans are asked to arrive at Union Passenger Terminal by 12:15 to board the buses.

Station

Bus

3158

Bus

3258

Station

Bus

3159

Bus

3259

New Orleans

1:30 P

1:00 P

Jackson

11:20 A

11:20 A

Hammond

---

2:00 P

Hazlehurst

---

11:55 A

McComb

---

2:47 P

Brookhaven

---

12:16 P

Brookhaven

---

3:09 P

McComb

---

12:40 P

Hazlehurst

---

3:29 P

Hammond

---

1:28 P

Jackson

4:43 P

4:43 P

New Orleans

3:47 P

3:47 P

Piedmont Trains 74, 75, 76 and 77

Track Work Affects Service Select Dates June 10 through July 9, 2019

Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern will affect Piedmont service on select dates beginning June 10 through July 9.

Monday and Tuesday June 10 and 11; June 24 and 25; July 1 and 2; Tuesday, July 9

Piedmont Service

  • Trains 74, 75, 76 and 77 which operate between Charlotte and Raleigh, are cancelled. Alternate transportation is not provided.

  • All other Carolinian and Piedmont service trains will operate normally on these dates.

Vallejo Amtrak Thruway Stop Moves to a New Location - Effective May 20, 2019

We are pleased to announce that the Amtrak Thruway Bus stop in Vallejo, CA, will move from Denny’s to the below address:

Curtola Park-N-Ride. 801 Curtola Parkway Vallejo, CA 94589

This new location will have better ADA accommodations, improve interconnectivity with local services and improve parking options for passengers.

New York Penn Station Infrastructure Renewal Work - June 28 through September. 2, 2019

Continued Infrastructure Renewal at New York Penn Station

Amtrak will continue its Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station during Summer 2019, affecting service of Northeast Regional, Keystone, Cardinal, Adirondack and Maple Leaf trains.

Amtrak Schedule Changes

  • Northeast Regional Trains 110 and 127 will be cancelled

  • Keystone Train 640 will terminate in Newark, Train 643 will originate in Newark and Train 653 will depart New York a few minutes earlier than scheduled

  • Cardinal Train 51 will depart New York early on weekdays only

  • Maple Leaf Train 63 and Adirondack Train 69 will run as a combination train on Train 63’s schedule. The trains will split in Albany.

Any passenger already booked on a train will be contacted and accommodated on other scheduled services.

Customer Information:

The following resources are available for all Amtrak customers:

  • Amtrak.com/NYPrenewal: Find the latest train schedule information, project overview and updates.

  • Amtrak Social Media: Customers can follow @AmtrakNECAlerts and @Amtrak on Twitter for timely information.

  • Email or text alerts: Amtrak now offers a new feature that will allow customers to sign up to receive customized texts or emails for train and service information.

  • Amtrak.com and the mobile app: Get train status information or modify existing reservations.

Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian Trains 42 and 43

Reservations Required Memorial Day Weekend

Friday through Tuesday, May 24 through 28, 2019

To better accommodate the increased number of passengers traveling during Memorial Day Weekend, reservations will be required on all Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service trains from Friday, May 24 through Tuesday, May 28.

Note: Monthly and ten-ride tickets will be accepted on these dates.

Holiday Travel Reminders

  • To avoid ticket counter lines, passengers are encouraged to utilize eTicketing.

  • Allow ample time to arrive at the station and board the train.

  • Make sure your baggage is tagged with your name and address.


Travelers’ Tip For The Week

Whether you are new to rail travel or a seasoned rider here is some information that may come in handy in your travels.

Amtrak Station Lounges

If you are looking for a place to relax before, after or during stops on your journey, Amtrak offers several types of private lounges in limited stations across the country.

Club Acela

Club Acela provides comfortable, lounge seating for Acela First Class or Long-Distance Sleeping Car passengers, Single-Day Pass holders, Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus and Select Executive members. Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, Internet access, fax and copy services, conference room access, newspapers, periodicals and television are available for passenger convenience. Station Attendants are also available to assist with reservations and ticketing and local information, if needed.

All Business Class passengers can purchase daily access passes for the ClubAcela locations at Philadelphia - 30th Street Station and Boston - South Station for $25 per day. Speak with a uniformed employee at the station for more information.

Perhaps you are between trains and you need a place to hold a quick meeting or make a confidential call, complimentary conference rooms at all ClubAcela locations are available. Conference rooms can be reserved, in advance by, calling the Club locations directly. All conference rooms are booked on a first-come, first-served basis and usage is limited to two-hours. The meeting organizer must arrive before other participants are allowed access to the Club.

Club Acela lounges are in select stations. Features and amenities may vary by location.

Club Acela Location

Hours

Phone

Boston, MA - South Station

5:30 am - 9:30 pm; daily

(617) 757-1520

New York, NY - Penn Station

5:15 am - 9:30 pm; Monday – Friday

7:00 am - 9:00 pm; Saturday - Sunday

(212) 630-7108

Philadelphia - 30th Street Station

6:00 am - 9:00 pm; daily

(215) 349-3090

Washington, DC - Union Station

4:30 am - 9:30 pm; Monday - Friday

5:00 am - 9:30 pm; Saturday - Sunday

(202) 906-3012

Metropolitan Lounges

Metropolitan Lounges are available in Chicago, Los Angeles and Portland, OR Union Stations to sleeping car passengers, business class passengers with a same-day travel ticket (departure or arrival) and Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus or Select Executive members. Each location offers comfortable, quiet lounge seating, complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and internet access. Attendants are available to assist with reservations, ticketing and local information.

Chicago Metropolitan Lounge

The Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago is a two-floor lounge that includes many amenities if traveling to and from Chicago Union Station. You can check your baggage and pre-board from the lounge to your Amtrak train. Upon arrival and presenting your ticket, you can stow your carry-on bags, relax, enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages, and even take a shower. You can connect via WiFi, power your electronic devices and remain productive while traveling. The lounge also provides a space for kids.

If you are traveling via coach and would like to use the Chicago Metropolitan Lounge, you can buy a day pass to get full access to all the lounge amenities for $25. Just see a uniformed station agent at Chicago Union Station to purchase one.

Portland, OR Metropolitan Lounge

The Portland, OR Metropolitan Lounge offers complimentary coffee and water, WiFi and a television and is a quiet private waiting room while waiting. The lounge is air conditioned which is a treat in the summer as the station itself is not. Sleeping car passengers, Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus or Select Executive members are allowed access and can board the train platform directly through the lounge. Attendants are available to assist with reservations, ticketing and local information.

Los Angeles Metropolitan Lounge

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Lounge is located on the second floor of the station, near where the trains depart. It is a small lounge, but includes seating for 40-50 and offers complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks and other beverages, light snacks, and newspapers. Wi-Fi is also available.

The lounge is open daily and is available to same-day passengers traveling in a Long-Distance Sleeping Car or in Business Class on the Pacific Surfliner. Access is also available to Select Plus and Select Executive Amtrak Guest Rewards members. Attendants are available to assist with reservations, ticketing and local information.

Unstaffed Lounges

Unattended, separate waiting rooms are available in St. Paul/Minneapolis, St. Louis and New Orleans. Sleeping car passengers and Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus and Select Executive Amtrak Guest Reward members are welcome at all unstaffed lounges. Business Class passengers may also use the lounge in St. Louis.

Who is Eligible for Lounge Access?

  • Amtrak Guest Rewards members with a valid Select Plus or Select Executive member card.

  • Amtrak passengers with a same-day ticket (departing) or ticket receipt (arriving) in First Class or sleeping car accommodations. Business Class passengers may also use the lounges in Chicago and St. Louis.

  • Complimentary ClubAcela Single-Day Pass holders. Same-day travel ticket not needed.

  • Private car owners/lessee and party between time of arrival and departure specified in the reservation. Provide reservation number to Club representative upon entry.

    • Due to space restrictions, private car owners and their groups are not permitted in the Los Angeles - Union Station Metropolitan Lounge.

  • United Club Members with a valid United Club Card are entitled to access ClubAcela locations and may bring in two guests or their spouses and children under the age of 21. United Global First or United BusinessFirst passengers with a flight coupon or boarding pass with a same-day, international segment in United Global First or United BusinessFirst are also entitled to ClubAcela access.

Safe travels!

Have a ‘Travelers Tip’ you would like to share or have a question/topic you would like us to address, please drop us a message at [email protected] - Attention ‘Travelers Tips.


Your Feedback is Important to Improving American Passenger Trains

As you travel, please help us promote the Travel Review with other rail passengers. As you encounter passengers who want to make their positive and negative opinions known, please direct them to www.railpassengers.org/Travel Review. All participants will remain anonymous. If you encounter any problems with the Travel Review, or have any questions, please send an email to Trave[email protected]

Do You Need More TravelReview Feedback Cards?

Please help us to spread the word. We need your help in engaging other passengers when you travel and let them know that their feedback is welcomed by RailPax. To facilitate this sharing of information the TravelReview Feedback Card is now available for you to download and print for regular usage. The card can be given to fellow passengers to introduce the work that RailPax is doing as well as our desire to have their feedback. The cards can also be left behind in stations as you pass through.

The template is in a .pdf format and will open in Adobe document cloud. First download the file and save it to your desktop for easy access. Then print as needed. The original template is formatted for Avery 5871 or 5371 cardstock which are both 2” x 3½” business card formats. Any brand cardstock should function as long as the dimensions match.

If you experience any problem in accessing the file, please send an email to [email protected]


Planning a summer vacation including trains (and who wouldn’t be?), then you need a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Amazing Train Journeys’ guidebook! And with every purchase Lonely Planet will donate 15% of the proceeds to your Association, to help us keep working for More Trains, Better Trains and a commitment to better infrastructure.

Through this beautiful book, you’ll experience 60 of the world’s greatest and most unforgettable train journeys, from classic long-distance trips like Western Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and Darwin to Adelaide’s The Ghan, to little-known gems on regular commuting lines. It’s the culmination of asking more than 200 travel writers for their absolute favorites.

Some are epic international adventures, others are short suburban routes along stunning coastline. There are incredible feats of engineering, trains that snake their way through mountain peaks, and even those which have achieved Unesco World Heritage status.

More than just a collection, each profile will give you the practical information you need to experience one or more of these epic journeys yourself -- including ticket options, timetables and stops, plus inspiring photos and illustrated maps. It’s all here!

Amazing Train Journeys is available as a book, e-Book or in both formats at a low combination price. And your purchase helps supports your Association’s mission too! Remember, Lonely Planet is contributing 15% of all Amazing Train Journeys sales to Rail Passengers! You can order copies by clicking here!

DON’T SLEEP ON THIS! USE YOUR MEMBER DISCOUNTS FOR EXCLUSIVE SAVINGS!

Rail Passengers’ partnership with MemberDeals will give members access to exclusive savings on movie tickets, theme parks, hotels, rental cars, tours, Broadway and Vegas shows and more through the members only area of the Rail Passengers website. Be sure to check back often as new products and discounts are constantly being added!

Whether you are from Bakersfield, Bismarck or Boston, Rail Passengers and MemberDeals have you covered! Our MemberDeals partnership covers venues, services and attractions throughout the country...take a look to see where there might be savings on fun outings near you!

Remember, if you want to use these great internet-only discounts, you must be a member in good standing AND be logged in to the Rail Passengers website. If you need help accessing these discounts email us at [email protected], or call the office at 202-408-8362.


Openings Available For Rail Passengers State Council Representatives

The following vacancies now exist for state representatives on the Rail Passengers Council of Representatives: Alabama (1 opening); California (6 openings); Idaho (1 opening); Illinois (1 opening); Louisiana (1 opening); Minnesota (1 opening); North Dakota (1 opening); Ohio (2 openings); Pennsylvania (1 opening); Texas (1 opening); Utah (1 opening); Washington State (1 opening); Wyoming (1 opening)

If you are interested in becoming more involved in passenger rail advocacy and serving in a Rail Passengers leadership role, this is your opportunity to be considered for an appointment by the Board of Directors to an open state representative seat. There is no deadline to apply and submissions will be considered on a rolling basis as they are received.

Please review the position responsibilities & required qualifications and complete & submit a Candidate Information Statement if you would like to seek a position.

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