Happening Now

Hotline #1,137

October 4, 2019

Have You Voted On Our Top 10 Routes Poll?; Advocates For Atlanta Beltline March This Sunday; Impeachment Demanding Congressional Attention – Will Transportation Suffer?; Bexar (TX) County Commissioners Support Daily Sunset; Denver’s RTD Cancels Service Due To Operator Shortages; Montana Coalition Forming To Restore North Coast Hiawatha; Maryland Governor Proposes To Cut Public Transportation Funding ; Miami-Dade County May Build New Brightline Station; BART’s Wish List'; Winter Park Express Tickets Go On Sale

October 4, 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 will 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.


You don’t want to miss out on RailNation:California! REGISTER TODAY! Early Registration Rates End October 10th. Don’t Delay!

Chad Edison - Chief Deputy Secretary for Rail and Transit, California State Transportation Agency - will be the Luncheon Keynote Speaker at Saturday’s Advocacy Symposium. Chad’s presentation will be on ‘Applying The California Experience To The Rest Of The United States’

The Saturday Advocacy Symposium will also feature three thematic tracks:

  • ‘Inclusion & Equity’ with session speakers including Alfred Twu, Jason Lee, George Basile, Seung Lee, and Alicia Trost

  • ‘Making Change Happen’ with session speakers including Robert Munson, Michael Christensen; Karen Christenson, Doug Kerr and Carl Fowler

  • ‘What Passengers Want’ with session speakers including Jim Allison, Tom Martinelli, and Summer By Rail Intern Chef Madi Butler

Tickets for the Friday Evening Welcome Networking Reception and Awards Presentation are now available!


Have you voted in our Top 10 Routes poll? Rail Passengers is spending the 31 days of October comparing 31 of the most exciting potential new train services, and we’re asking passengers to tell us what their favorites are.

With only two days of voting, we’ve already had over a 2,000 people take part. Here are some takeaways from the early voting:

  • Favorite New Long-Distance Route: Daily Cardinal. Passengers are looking for frequent, reliable service to connect the East Coast to the Midwest. And with few transportation alternatives in West Virginia and Ohio, it makes sense that this route has risen above the rest.

  • Favorite New State-Supported Route: Montrealer. Just in time for winter hockey season, passengers are clamoring for restored service between New York and Montreal. (Juste à temps pour la saison de hockey d'hiver, les passagers réclament un service rétabli entre New York et Montréal.)

  • Favorite New High-Speed Route: Las Vegas - Los Angeles High Speed Route. Connecting two of the premiere travel markets in the U.S., this potential high-speed route is a can’t miss bet.

Vote Now!


The Atlanta advocacy group Beltline Rail Now is holding a march this Sunday to voice their support for the Beltline Rail project, culminating in a rally.

Rally Information

Sunday, October 6th

START: 2:00PM AT OLD FOURTH WARD SKATE PARK

END: 3:30PM AT IRWIN STREET

“Twenty years after we witnessed its founding as an idea, we still don’t have a commitment to build the most transformative transportation project in Atlanta in our lifetimes,” BeltLine Rail Now co-chair Matthew Rao said. “We believe that what our leaders decide in the coming few months is still malleable, and we’re fighting to see the priorities include a full build of rail on the BeltLine by 2030. Waiting till 2050 for a partial build is simply unacceptable.”

Supporters argue that BeltLine rail was a central component of the infrastructure package approved by Atlanta voters in 2016, but that MARTA officials have sidetracked the project in the intervening years.

“Atlanta has received a lot of acclaim for the BeltLine as transit project that will transform the city,” says Patty Durand, BeltLine Rail Now’s co-chair. “Now three years later, we see that city leaders are short-changing the transit portion of the BeltLine in favor of other projects that aren’t widely embraced and certainly aren’t transformative or ambitious. Is that the best Atlanta can do? We don’t think so.”

You can find more details about the rally at facebook.com/BeltLineRailNow/.


With the political battle over impeachment demanding more Congressional attention, there is a growing sense among infrastructure advocates that the window for movement on a federal infrastructure package has closed until after the 2020 presidential election.

While the prospects of an infrastructure bill is minor compared to the growing constitutional crisis, it’s also true that America’s crumbling infrastructure will continue to deteriorate. The recognition of this fact is widespread enough that leaders from both parties took time this week to address the issue directly with reporters.

“We’re hoping that we can renew our conversations about infrastructure; building the infrastructure of America,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), saying that the House impeachment inquiry need not stall bipartisan work on addressing underinvestment in U.S. infrastructure.

The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was even more pointed, saying that a surface transportation reauthorization will definitely move forward.

“We’re going to do a transportation bill, maybe later this year,” said Senator McConnell. “It probably won’t be as bold as the president was talking about because it would inevitably, if it were that bold, involve a whopping gasoline tax increase, which is very regressive, hits medium and low income people very hard. But we will do a transportation bill. It will be more along the size of a traditional every four or five year transportation bill.”

McConnell’s guarantee is not surprising, given the fact that when the current surface transportation expires on September 30, 2020, the federal government will no longer be able to collect the gasoline tax, cutting off the flow of funding for highways and mass transit. However, the political caution he expressed about raising the gasoline tax to address the Highway Trust Fund deficit may turn out to be the biggest obstacle to any meaningful, long-term action.

“It would be very difficult to get the House bill done but not because of impeachment--just because it’s hard,” said Marcia Hale, president of the bipartisan Building America’s Future. “The more plausible thing to expect is that there will be a series of extensions like we’ve been through before. But, I don’t think it’s impossible to get this done.”


Commissioners in Bexar County, TX voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to ask Amtrak to seek funding to turn the Sunset Limited from three-times-a-week to daily service. Rail Passengers Association members in Texas have been working with local officials, including the San Antonio City Council, and were influential in the passing of this resolution. Jim Wyatt, a member from San Antonio, stated that ridership would triple if the Sunset became a daily scheduled train - “a triple ridership also brings about economic benefits with all places it stops.”

Association member Mike Robinson cited the environmental benefits of increased service which would mean more cars off the road since more people would have access to passenger rail. “Rail service is a serious way of addressing climate issues,” Robinson said. “It’s much less polluting than airlines, much less polluting than cars, of course, and it could be part of the City of San Antonio’s grand plan to address climate issues even here within the city and within the state.”


Down 61 light rail operators, Denver’s RTD was forced to cancel routes when 2 people called out. Having been affected by job saturation in the local delivery and driving market, RTD released a statement to local news in regards to the cancelled routes and delayed service passengers experienced the last few weeks. RTD has lost 25 light rail operators since June with 30% of their 216 Light Rail Operator positions unfilled. Though these positions start around $20/hour, operators are leaving for rival positions with more flexible schedules.

"When you have low unemployment, there are a lot of options for people. We’re competing with a lot of companies for the same people," said RTD’s Tina Jaquez in a recent interview with 9News "We try and do what we can with the resources we have, but it is a lot."

While passengers are struggling with delays and cancellations, RTD is offering increases in benefits, hours, wages, and sign-on bonuses to qualified new hires as an attempt to incentivize and retain staffing for these much needed roles. As there are so many open positions, and slowed construction, we may see a delay in the opening of the N Line.


Missoula County Commissioners agreed Thursday to launch talks with leaders from other Montana counties aimed at creating a coalition to restore the North Coast Hiawatha train route from Seattle to at least as far as Helena. The effort would be designed to build support from among all the counties served and potentially to create an entity within the state that can accept federal grants and other help to get the train launched.

“This is something I’ve been interested in and involved with for more than a decade,” said Commission Chairman David Strohmaier, who recently visited the Rail Passengers DC offices and with Capitol Hill lawmakers to float the idea. “There’s been several efforts to get this going through legislation on the state and federal level, but those efforts never made it too far. It became a dead issue. Rather than repeat what’s been tried in the past, I want to examine what the county can do to push this idea forward.”

One of the things that consistently crops up to make it a “dead issue” is a 2010 cost/benefit study that concluded it would cost $28 million in capital and $159 million to operate any new service. Considering that twice-daily Gulf Coast service between Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans will cost at most $6 million a year to operate, the costs in that study seem exorbitant to us at Rail Passengers.

Rail Passengers’ DC team recently prepared testimony for the Montana state legislature recommending that the state look hard at restoring the North Coast because of the economic benefits it would bring to the state.

We recommended specifically that Montana seek to update Amtrak’s 2009 North Coast Hiawatha study with a more realistic assessment of costs and benefits, and with an eye toward giving appropriate credit for economic-development effects. We also told the legislature that we think the study should be conducted at arm’s-length from Amtrak.

In addition, Rail Passengers said in its testimony package that the state or counties should conduct additional studies to quantify the scope of economic benefits, such as induced tourism, new employment, reduced wear-and-tear on highways, improved health and economic outcomes for isolated rural populations, new opportunities created by connections to other population centers. Rail Passengers believes it’s time for policymakers to move beyond the costs of the service itself and the false premise of profits to the operator from an individual route.

Strohmaier said as much this week, telling a Missoula journalist “A lot of people look at the costs without looking at the economic and public benefits. We invest billions in roads and air travel, and don’t blink an eye. We should be willing to look at rail service in a similar manner and look at the value rather than just looking at the costs.”

Rail Passengers calculates, for example, that in Cut Bank, Montana, all 3,000 or so local residents together pay $12,500 each year for their share of Amtrak’s costs to operate the Empire Builder twice daily through the town. But the return on that investment tops $327,000 annually to the community. All of this, of course, scales up. Where a 2010 Montana DOT study put the total benefit of the Builder to the state at perhaps $13 million to $14 million, Rail Passengers’ most recent modeling assessment puts the true benefit closer to $37 million.

Our final recommendation to the Montana lawmakers was that the state should consider creating a State Rail Authority to serve as a vehicle for receiving grants and to continue study and planning efforts.


Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has proposed a $345-million cut to the state agency overseeing public transportation, including for Baltimore’s subway & light rail lines and MARC commuter trains, reported StreetsBlog USA. The proposal drew a quick, negative response from those who believe public transit investment must be made now.

“That’s a direct hit to Baltimore City,” state legislator Brooke Lierman told Hogan’s Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, who presented the 10-percent cut to officials “This delegation is not going to sit idly by while you try to dismantle our transit system.”

In the next decade, the agency is facing a $2-billion shortfall in funds needed just to keep the system operating safely, and critics say the most recent cuts — 10 percent less than current spending levels — are compounding the problem. But representatives for Hogan said his administration is spending more on transit than any previous governor, investing more than $14 billion in operating and capital funds for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and transit.


The Miami Herald reported this week that Miami-Dade County, FL may be looking to spend $76 million to build a train station near the Aventura Mall to serve the Virgin Trains USA rail service (i.e. Brightline), using money for Metrorail and buses to create a new transit hub in one of the most congested areas along the coast.

Miami-Dade would use the county's half-percent transportation tax to purchase land for the station, and then Virgin would build the station using public dollars, according to a draft memo by Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The Gimenez administration last week was pushing for the agreement to receive its first and final vote before the County Commission on Thursday, but a source familiar with the planning said Monday night that a special meeting next week is more likely.

Virgin, which used to be called Brightline, agreed to give Aventura-bound passengers a 35 percent discount off its normal fare for trips between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. A trip from Miami to Fort Lauderdale costs $15 today, so a ticket to Aventura would cost no more than $9.75 one-way under the formula in the agreement. Virgin would pay to operate the station and service, using its existing trains and staff.


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

  • Jim Mathews, President & CEO, had a slew of meetings this week, sitting down with leaders from Transportation 4 America, Texas Central Railway and Amtrak. He also spent more time preparing materials for the upcoming RailNation: California meeting in Sacramento. Hope to see you there!

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, oversaw the creation and launch of Rail Passengers newest campaign, where passengers get to vote on what are the top 10 most exciting new rail services in America. We identified 31 rail corridors for the 31 days of October -- drawn from Rail Passengers’ Grid & Gateway and several regional rail studies that our staff has taken part in -- and turned the voting over to you. Sean also met with House appropriators to discuss next steps for the FY2020 transportation budget.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, has continued to fine tune details with the volunteer station manager in East Lansing. Plans are being discussed with MDOT to expand volunteers into other Michigan cities. Continued discussions with Lawrence KS residents and city officials for open house in early December.

  • Joseph Aiello, Northeast Field Coordinator, met with Massachusetts State Representative Tami Gouveia (Acton) this week to discuss transportation advocacy and what steps can be taken on both the federal and local level to fund regional rail projects. Joe has also been hard at work with both Sean and Madi on our month long “Top 10 Routes” campaign, as well as continuing to prepare for RailNation: California.

  • Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, met this week with the Texas Rail Association as well as employees at CapMetro, their work with these groups is in support of the continued coalition building across the sunbelt. These are pivotal conversations to have before the upcoming election year and highlights of these meetings will be featured in next week’s hotline. Madi has also taken our Top 10 routes survey to Social Media to raise awareness around the many routes and corridors for which our members advocate.

  • Bruce Becker, Vice-President of Operations, has been busy on coordinating the final details for RailNation:California coming up in just two weeks!

  • Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development: I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the survey. Your responses will help the Rail Passengers Association in our efforts to represent the concerns of our members and ensure future generations of rail passengers have a voice. If the survey was not in your inbox this week, keep an eye out next week as we broke up distribution over two weeks. If you do not have an email address in your membership record and you'd like to participate in the survey please reach out to me via email at jsto[email protected] or by phone at 202-408-8362 x3207 to make alternate arrangements.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, spent the week talking with members, making projections for 2020, and wrangling upcoming direct mailings.


The Rail Passengers Association would like to thank Talgo, Inc., our Annual Partner, for their support.


A Message from Rail Passengers President/CEO Jim Mathews

Dear Rail Passengers Members,

We have raised all membership dues this summer and updated our renewal letters to you reflecting those changes. You can see the full update of membership dues here on our website.

While we understand that you aren’t made of money, our not-for-profit work is mostly supported by your membership. Increasing dues is not ideal, but it is currently the most effective way for us to continue our work to build A Connected America and keep rail systems like Amtrak up to speed on all things you find important. This growth in revenue will help us keep our seat at the table with Congress and local governments, which is vital if we want to continue offering the voice of the passenger to those who need to hear it. You will still receive all Rail Passengers benefits with this change, including 10% off of most Amtrak rides and vacation packages, exclusive pricing on entertainment through MemberDeals, and a new perk coming soon: exclusive Amtrak Lounge Access for our Gold Advocate and Silver Rail Society members.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rail Passengers Membership Manager, Kim Williams, at (202) 408-8362, ext. 3123 or [email protected].

Thank you for your understanding, for your continued support, and for your membership.

Jim


BART’s wish list for $100 billion ‘mega measure’: Second bay crossing, new fare gates

Faster Bay Area, a funding initiative voters could engage in November 2020, supported by the Bay Area Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and SPUR, seeks to integrate the region’s transit systems and make major infrastructure improvements.

Citing ballot initiatives approved by voters in Seattle and Los Angeles in 2016 that raised tens of billions of dollars, BART General Manager Robert Powers wants to use the funding from this measure to repair or replace the tunnel between Orinda and Rockridge station as well as replace the much contended fare gates.

BART also wants to incentivize low-income riders discounted fares. Along with Caltrain, MUNI, and Golden Gate Transit, the results of the 18-month pilot program currently underway could be enacted with this additional funding. Another major highlight is the second bay crossing this measure could provide. Many supporters of this initiative are vocal in their advocacy for a secondary crossing.


Winter Park Express tickets for the 19/20 season are now on sale!

Tickets for the Amtrak Winter Park Express passenger train service from Denver Union Station to the slopes of Winter Park Resort are on sale now at Amtrak.com/WinterParkExpress. The 2019 season features a continuation of fares starting at $29 each way and three additional Friday round-trips. The 2019 Amtrak Winter Park Express schedule begins on Friday, January 4, 2020 and the train will run each Saturday and Sunday through March 31. Service also includes round-trips on the first two Fridays of each month, January 4th and 11th, February 1st and 8th, and March 1st and 8th. Passengers can choose from 32 round-trips, which is an increase from 2018.

Children ages 2-12 ride for half-fare with each ticketed adult. Amtrak and Winter Park Resort have also made it easy to book group travel by calling 800-USA-1GRP for a train/ski package – including lodging – crafted by representatives of the resort and Amtrak.

The Amtrak Winter Park Express trains will again depart Denver Union Station at 7:00 a.m. and arrive at the resort at approximately 9:00 a.m., leaving Winter Park at 4:30 p.m.to return to Denver at 6:40 p.m. All Mountain Standard Time. The station is served by the Denver’s Regional Transportation District’s commuter trains to Denver International Airport, light rail, local or intercity buses, ride-sharing services and taxis. This expanded Winter Park Express service is just one of many improvements at Winter Park Resort for the 2018-19 season, with more than $30 million in capital investments that include a new 10-person gondola, upgraded snowmaking, and much more. The full suite of Winter Park passes is on sale now for the lowest prices of the season. Questions about the resort and its many features can be answered directly by Winter Park Resort by calling 888-923-7275.

The Winter Park Resort is located just 67 miles from Denver and is Colorado’s longest continually-operated ski resort, with more than 3,000 acres of world-class terrain spread out over seven unique territories that is now accessible via train thanks to Winter Park Express train service from Denver. Nestled along the Continental Divide, Winter Park boasts over 325” of annual snowfall, setting up perfect conditions for exploring miles of cruising groomers, six terrain parks, bumps, steeps, trees, and most definitely deeps. Winter Park is also the proud home to the renowned National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD).


Our Best Fall Event Yet! Make Plans To Attend RailNation: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.

Early Meeting Registration Rates Are Available Now Through October 10. Higher rates will apply starting October 11th and at the door! Tour & Trip Tickets Are Also On Sale!

Friday Evening will feature the optional Welcome Networking Reception & Awards Presentation, offering an opportunity for attendees to greet old colleagues and make new friends in an informal, relaxed atmosphere from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

In addition, the Association will present the following awards during the Reception:

  • The Ross Capon Citizens Advocacy Award To Chris Koos, Mayor of Normal, IL

  • The Tracks To The Future Award To Rick Klein, City Manager of La Junta, CO

  • The Community Action Award To Carey Maynard-Moody of Lawrence, KS

The Reception is $20.00 per person and includes soft drinks & lite snacks. A cash bar will be available for other beverages. A separate ticket is required for this Reception, but overall event registration is not required.

Chad Edison - Chief Deputy Secretary for Rail and Transit - California State Transportation Agency - will be Saturday's Luncheon Keynote Speaker. His presentation will be ‘Applying The California Experience To The Rest Of The United States’

The Saturday Advocacy Symposium will feature three thematic tracks:

Track Theme

Morning Session

Afternoon Session

‘Inclusion & Equity’

‘Housing and Transit In California: Development Without Displacement’

Presenters - Alfred Twu & Jason Lee

‘Engaging Youth Stakeholders in Transit Advocacy’

Presenters - George Basile, Seung Lee & Alicia Trost

‘Making Change Happen’

‘Plucky Corridors, Regional Rail, & The Green New Deal’

Presenters - Karen Christenson, Michael Chritensen & Robert Munson

‘Changing Rail Passenger Policy’

Presenters - Carl Fowler & Doug Kerr

‘What Passengers Want’

Sponsored By Airworthy

‘California’s Coordinated Multi-Modal Scheduling Plan’

Presenter - Jim Allison

'Advancing The Case For A Daily Sunset'

Presenter - Abe Zumwalt

‘Improving the Rail-Getaway Experience’

Presenters - Tom Martinelli & Chef Madi Butler

FYI...Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations at the host hotel, the Sheraton Grand Downtown, are now SOLD-OUT! A list of alternative nearby hotels and rates is now available! Please note there are NO special arrangements with any of these alternative hotels.

Be sure to check out the RailNation:California event page for more information, the current agenda, speaker bio’s and further details.

And as an optional component of RailNation: California, an intensive, ‘Hands-On’ Advocacy Workshop, led by Rail Passengers’ Vice-President of Policy Sean Jeans-Gail, will be held on Friday, October 18, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

Staff members from Rail Passengers’ federal and state policy team will engage with workshop participants, in a small group setting, on the A to Z of advocacy. We’ll teach you advocacy best practices, help you figure out the best strategy for interacting with elected officials and policymakers, and give you a blueprint for launching a successful campaign to improve service in your town—whether it’s local transit, commuter, or intercity rail and Amtrak.

This workshop will focus on giving advocates the following tools:

  • Define achievable goals: whether it’s launching a new service, a new frequency, or getting an issue on the ballot, you need to determine a workable path to get you where you want to go.

  • Build coalitions: recruit like-minded advocates, national and local advocacy organizations, business partners, and elected officials. We’ll tackle the hard questions about how to maintain partnerships in the face of adversity and competing interests.

  • Guide the narrative: learn how to engage through social media, connect with traditional media outlets and reporters, and find the right message to cut through the noise.

  • Establish a campaign blueprint: create a calendar for sustainable grassroots action, making intelligent use of limited financial resources and volunteer labor.

Workshop participants will leave not only with the knowledge to execute effective advocacy efforts but with a tool-kit of sorts as well. The interactive nature of the workshop will provide materials needed to hit the ground running in their advocacy work.

The Workshop is $20.00 per person and advance registration is required. Space is limited!

FYI...We are sorry to announce that the planned tour of the Siemens USA Mobility manufacturing plant has been cancelled and that the scheduled Thursday evening Ale Nation Networking Mixed will also not be occurring.


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!


PASSENGER SERVICE NOTICES

Downeaster Service Schedule Change

Effective October 21, 2019

Due to seasonal ridership changes, Downeaster Service will make schedule adjustments as outlined below:

Southbound

  • Train 692 will operate 30 minutes later than the current schedule.

  • Train 696 will operate 45 minutes earlier than the current schedule.

Northbound

  • Train 691 will operate 10 minutes later than the current schedule.

  • Train 693 will operate one hour and 40 minutes later than the current schedule.

  • Train 697 will operate 45 minutes earlier than the current schedule. Old Orchard Beach station stop will be discontinued during the off season.

Silver Meteor Train 98 One Day Schedule Change

Effective Oct. 7, 2019

Due to track work being performed by CSX, Silver Meteor Train 98 will operate on a later schedule between Jacksonville and New York, on Monday, Oct. 7. Train 98 will leave Jacksonville at 6:07 pm, 1 hour later than current schedule and will operate on the later schedule through to New York.

Jefferson City Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

The Jefferson City station waiting room is temporarily closed until further notice. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time. City volunteers will be on site to help with questions or directions during scheduled train times.

Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Lake Shore Limited Schedule Change

Effective Oct. 4-6 and 11-13, 2019

Due to trackwork being performed between Albany and New York, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express and Lake Shore Limited schedules are affected as outlined below.

Fridays, Oct. 4 and 11

  • Train 49 will operate 15 minutes later than normal at all stations from Rhinecliff to Albany, departing Albany at the normal time of 7:05 pm.

  • Trains 238, 242 and 244 will depart Albany up to 20 minutes later than normal and will operate on a later schedule at all stations between Albany and New York.

  • Train 290 will depart Albany at 11:25 am, 15 minutes later than normal and will operate on a later schedule at all stations between Albany and New York.

Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 5-6 and 12-13

  • Train 49 will operate 15 minutes later than normal at all stations between Rhinecliff and Albany, departing Albany at the normal time of 7:05 pm.

  • Train 68 will operate 5 minutes later than normal at all stations between Rhinecliff and New York.

  • Trains 238, 244, 256 and 260 will depart Albany up to 20 minutes later than normal and will operate on a later schedule at all stations between Albany and New York.

  • Train 292 will depart Albany at 2:30 pm, 20 minutes later than normal and will operate on a later schedule at all stations between Albany and New York.

  • Train 296 will operate 10 minutes later than normal at all stations from Rhinecliff to New York.

All other trains will operate normally but may see delays up to 15 minutes through the work area. For detailed schedule changes, and the most up to date times, please visit Amtrak.com.

Pacific Surfliner One Day Schedule Change

Effective October 12, 2019

Track Work in Southern California will affect service between Los Angeles and Anaheim

Track work being performed from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 will affect Pacific Surfliner service as described below.

Pacific Surfliner Service, Northbound Trains:

  • Trains 591 and 595 which normally operate between San Diego and Los Angeles, will terminate at Anaheim. Buses 4891 and 4895 will be provided between Anaheim and Los Angeles, making the intermediate stop at Fullerton.

  • Some trains may be delayed up to 15 minutes passing through the work location.

Pacific Surfliner Service, Southbound Trains:

  • Train 792, which normally operates between Goleta and San Diego, will operate as Train 1792 from Goleta to Los Angeles, as Bus 4892 from Los Angeles to Anaheim and as Train 792 from Anaheim to San Diego.

  • Train 796, which normally operates between San Luis Obispo and San Diego, will operate as Train 1796 from San Louis Obispo to Los Angeles, as Bus 4896 from Los Angeles to Anaheim and as Train 796 from Anaheim to San Diego.

  • All buses will make the intermediate stop at Fullerton.

San Joaquins Extra Allensworth Stop Annual Rededication

Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019

The Annual Rededication will be held at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Trains 702, 710, 712, 713, 714, 715, 717 and 719 will make special stops at Allensworth to accommodate passengers attending the event.

The special Annual Rededication helps the Department of Parks and Recreation preserve the diverse history of California.

Newark International Airport Station Temporarily Closed

Effective Oct. 5-6, 2019

Due to annual substation maintenance, Newark Liberty International Airport station will be closed, and trains will not be stopping there between 9:30 pm on Oct. 5 through 12:00 pm on Oct. 6.

Passengers traveling to Newark Liberty Airport will need to access shuttle buses at Raymond Plaza West, in the front of Newark Penn Station.

Newark Penn Station waiting room will be open during this time, but no seating will be available.

Bus Service

Buses will “load and go” and will not follow train schedules. New Jersey Transit personnel will check New Jersey Transit and Amtrak tickets as passengers board the bus

Northeast Regional and Acela Trackwork Affects Service

Effective Oct. 4-6, 2019

Due to track work being performed between New York and Boston, some Northeast Regional and Acela schedules will be adjusted as follows:

Friday, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4

  • Train 178 will operate on a later schedule, arriving 10 minutes later to Boston.

Saturday, Sept. 28 and Oct. 5

  • Train 2249, which normally operates between Boston and Washington, D.C., is cancelled between Boston and New York. No alternate transportation will be provided to missed station stops of Boston South, Back Bay, Route 128, Providence, New Haven or Stamford.

  • Train 168 will operate on a later schedule, arriving 10 minutes later to Boston.

  • Trains 65, 66, 168, 178, 195, 2249 and 2252 will be delayed up to 20 minutes between New Haven and Boston.

Chicago Union Station Self Park Permanently Closed

Effective Oct. 1, 2019

Please be advised the parking structure located at 210 South Canal St. will permanently close on Sept. 30. Overnight parking in the area is limited and customers are encouraged to use public transit, taxis, ride-share and drop-offs for Chicago Union Station.

Below are the underground and above-ground public parking facilities within two blocks of the Amtrak station:

  • 565 Quincy St. (550 W. Jackson Building) – valet service - Weekday Only, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Phone: 312-207-2320

  • 225 S. Desplaines St. (625 W. Adams Building) – self park - Monday-Saturday, no Sunday. Phone: 312-775-9383
  • 113 S. Clinton St. (525 W. Monroe Building) – self park - 24-hours. Phone: 609-330-2707

  • 500 W. Monroe St. – self park - 24-hours. Phone: 312-655-9120

San Joaquins Trains 703 & 704 Track Work Affects Lodi Service

Mondays, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, 2019

Due to track work being performed by Union Pacific Railroad, Trains 703 and 704 schedules will be affected as outlined below: Mondays, Sept. 23, 30 and Oct. 7 Trains 703 and 704 will detour between Stockton and Sacramento missing the station stop at Lodi on the above dates. Alternate transportation will not be provided.

Passengers traveling on these trains may experience delays up to 30 minutes. Passengers planning to travel to Lodi on these dates may consider using other Amtrak San Joaquins trains or Thruway buses.

NEC Schedule Changes

Effective September 23, 2019

As part of a periodic review of schedules we are making changes to better align to customer demand.

  • Train 111 will depart New York 15 minutes earlier and make additional stops for passenger convenience.

  • Train 127 will operate Wednesday through Friday between New York and Washington, D.C.

  • Train 151 will operate Monday and Tuesday, only and operate on a faster schedule with fewer stops.

  • Acela Trains 2401 and 2402 will run nonstop Monday through Friday between New York and Washington, D.C.

Amtrak Station

Train 151

Monday - Tuesday

Train 111

Monday - Friday

Train 127

Wednesday - Friday

New York

4:40 AM

5:15 AM

4:05 PM

Newark

R 4:56 AM

R 5:30 AM

R 4:20 PM

Newark Airport

---

---

4:27 PM

Metropark

5:10 AM

5:43 AM

4:37 PM

New Brunswick

---

5:54 AM

---

Princeton Junction

---

6:07 AM

---

Trenton

5:36 AM

6:16 AM

5:00 PM

Philadelphia 30th St.

6:04 AM

6:51 AM

5:32 PM

Wilmington

6:28 AM

7:13 AM

5:53 PM

Aberdeen

---

7:44 AM

---

Baltimore

7:17 AM

8:08 AM

6:40 PM

B.W.I Airport

7:30 AM

8:25 AM

6:54 PM

New Carrollton

D 7:48 AM

D 8:39 AM

D 7:09 PM

Washington, DC

8:05 AM

8:56 AM

7:30 PM

Amtrak Station

Train 2401

Monday - Friday

Amtrak Station

Train 2402

Monday - Friday

New York

6:35 AM

Washington, DC

4:30 PM

Washington, DC

9:12 AM

New York

7:05 PM

Keystone Service Schedule Changes

Effective through Nov. 3, 2019

Due to track work being performed along the Keystone Service line, some schedules will be affected through Nov. 3 as outlined below.

Eastbound Weekdays

  • Train 600 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Philadelphia

  • Train 648 will operate 5 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Paoli and will arrive on time into Philadelphia.

  • Train 650 will operate 5 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Paoli and 1 minute earlier into Philadelphia

Eastbound Weekends

  • Train 612 will operate 10 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia

  • Train 670 will operate 15 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Philadelphia

Westbound Weekdays

  • Train 641 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Middletown and 3 minutes later into Harrisburg

  • Train 643 will operate 4 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg

  • Train 651 will operate 4 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Middletown and will arrive on time into Harrisburg

Westbound Weekends

  • Train 611 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg

  • Train 661 will operate 3 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg

Elizabethtown Station Boarding

  • Track 2 will be closed for boarding effective July 22, 2019

  • Passengers traveling to Harrisburg will need to board on Track 1

Whirlpool Bridge Work Affects Maple Leaf Service

Effective Sept. 9 through Nov. 1, 2019

Beginning Monday, September 9, a major infrastructure project will begin on the Whirlpool Bridge, connecting the United States to Canada at Niagara Falls. To accommodate this work, Amtrak’s Maple Leaf Service will be adjusted as follows:

Train 63 Sept. 8 through Nov. 1

  • Train 63 which normally operates between New York Penn Station and Toronto, ON, will terminate at Niagara Falls, NY. Alternate transportation will be provided between Niagara Falls and Toronto, stopping at Niagara Falls, ON.

    • Bus 4498 will operate between Niagara Falls and Toronto with no intermediate stops at St. Catharines, ON, Grimsby, ON, Aldershot, ON and Oakville, ON.

Train 64 Sept. 9 through Nov. 2

  • Train 64 which normally operates between Toronto and New York Penn Station, will originate at Niagara Falls, NY. Alternate transportation will be provided between Toronto and Niagara Falls, stopping at Niagara Falls, ON.

    • Bus 4497 will operate between Toronto and Niagara Falls with no intermediate stops at Oakville, ON, Aldershot, ON, Grimsby, ON or St. Catharines, ON.

Proper documentation is required to cross the U.S./Canadian border.


Travelers’ Tip For The Week

TRAVEL REVIEWS SUBMITTED TO DATE: 882 (increase of 118 over last month)

Follow-up to Virginia Is For Lovers Travel Tip

Over 10,000 tickets purchased for Amtrak's $10 one-way tickets.

Since mid-September, passengers have bought over $10,000 tickets after Amtrak announced $10 one-way tickets.

For the first 10 days of October, one-way trips to anywhere Amtrak Northeast Regional travels throughout Virginia and Washington, D.C., will only cost $10. Tuesday also marks the 10-year anniversary of the inaugural daily round-trip service from Lynchburg to Washington D.C. on the Amtrak Northeast Regional.

Make sure you use the code V110 at checkout when purchasing the one-way tickets.

The $10 fare is one of several discounts available for travel in Virginia and to Washington, D.C., and other cities in the Northeast. Discount codes include:

  • $10 Fare - V110

  • 15% off Virginia Anytime Fare - V552

  • Virginia Student Fare - V449

  • Share Fares - V291 discounts for up to six customers

  • Saturday BOGO Sale - C222

Visit www.amtrak.com/virginia.


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 [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 fall vacation including trains (and who wouldn’t want to enjoy the fall colors?), then you need a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Amazing Train Journeysguidebook! 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!

Fall MemberDeals Announced

MemberDeals is already looking ahead to October as tickets for Halloween Horror Nights are already available for purchase. Summer Concerts Series sale continues with savings over 50% exclusive for Rail Passengers members. Celebrate concert season with the hottest concerts nationwide, from Luke Bryan, Third Eye Blind, Heart and The Who to name a few. Don’t miss out!

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.


Nominations Are Now Open For 2020 Election Of Council Of Representative Members

Rail Passengers’ is inviting all members in good standing to consider running for seats on the Council of Representatives, the Association’s volunteer governing body. The next election for seats on Council will occur in January 2020 for a two-year term starting March 1, 2020. Any Rail Passengers member, who has paid dues for at least one year, is at least 18-years of age and is a U.S. resident is eligible to run.

The Council consists of 112 elected state representatives. The number of representatives per state is determined by an equally weighted ratio of the Rail Passenger members in a given state and the state’s number of U.S. Representatives. Every state has at least one Council Representative. The certified number of Council seats to be elected, per state, in January 2020 can be found on the Rail Passenger website under ‘Join the Council’.

The Council of Representatives represents the overall Rail Passenger membership in setting and approving the overall policy and direction for the Association. The Council elects the Officers and Board of Directors of the Association, in addition to up to 10 ‘At-Large’ members of the Council. Serving on the Council is a great opportunity to collaborate with others who have a common interest in actively improving passenger rail service across the country. Council members are expected to encourage activities at the grass roots level to advance the Association’s goals and represent local needs, issues and activities at the national level.

The Council meets in person twice per year; in the spring in Washington, D.C., and in the fall at varied locations across the country. Council members are responsible for their own travel and meeting expenses to attend these gatherings and they may be able to apply these expenses on their federal tax returns. Incumbent Council Representatives who seek re-election must have attended at least two of the four meetings held during each Council term.

Members interested in running for a seat on the Council must complete and submit a Candidate Information Statement for review and qualification by 11:59 p.m. local time on December 1, 2019. The Candidate Information Statement is available on the Rail Passengers website or by requesting a printed copy from the Rail Passengers’ DC office. Complete information on serving on the Council of Representatives; detailed specifications on the election procedures and the Candidate Information Statement can be found on the Rail Passengers website under ‘Join the Council’

The Rail Passengers Association is only as strong as the leaders who step up and share their time and talents in working towards our collective goals. Please consider becoming one of these leaders and help make a difference in the future.

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