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Hotline #1,152

January 31, 2020

Rail news for the week ending January 31st

The February Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.
Click here to read the digital version.

UPDATE: The Mobile City Council passed a motion this week to delay their vote on the resolution to commit financial support to the operating cost of Gulf Coast passenger rail until next Tuesday, February 4th. If you live in Mobile or in the greater Gulf Coast region, there is still time to contact the City Council to voice your support. Click here for more information on how you can help.

$170 Million in Economic Benefits to Gulf Coast Hinge on Mobile City Council Vote

Alabama Should Pursue the Infrastructure Investment Model That Has Produced Dividends Across the U.S.

Washington, D.C. — The Rail Passengers Association urges the city of Mobile, Alabama, to move ahead with the creation of passenger train service between Mobile and New Orleans, which the most conservative estimates predict will add $19 million each year to Alabama’s economy. From a regional perspective, Amtrak service to the corridor would be worth more than $170 million to Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. This is a proven model that has produced hundreds of millions of dollars in return on investment in other states, and our Gulf Coast members are urging the city council to vote “yes” on this critical project.

The states of Mississippi and Louisiana—in partnership with Amtrak—have collectively committed $31 million toward capital improvements to bring back New Orleans - Mobile train service. However, a $3 million commitment from Mobile toward operations across three years is required.

A decision by the City Council to withhold support for funding could endanger the project—not just for Mobile, but for the entire Gulf Coast, since Mississippi and Louisiana have already committed their funds.

Members on the City Council’s finance committee have voiced concerns over the fact that the ticket fares won’t cover the entire cost of train operations. However—just as airports and highways don’t cover the entirety of their capital and operating costs through user fees, but through the economic activity they generate—the Gulf Coast passenger train will more than pay for itself by increasing business opportunities in the region.

The economic impact study, commissioned Southern Rail Commission and Transportation for America, quantified the benefits from new tourists and tourist dollars; new jobs to operate and maintain the trains, stations, and signal systems; and new construction jobs to upgrade track and signals, renovate stations, and construct maintenance bases. Rail Passengers has successfully made this argument in towns across the U.S., where experience has borne it out.

We’ve highlighted three recent examples of where local investment has produced results.

  • Amtrak Virginia: a decision made by the Commonwealth of Virginia to invest in two new train services and three extensions to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor has paid off handsomely, with $1.4 billion in economic returns to the state, more than 1,400 jobs created or sustained each year​, and $390 million in new tourist spending​. The decision to invest in additional frequencies has elevated the financial performance of the service, and the service has become operationally profitable (“above the rail”).

  • Amtrak Downeaster (Maine): after a 35 year hiatus, Maine resumed operations of the Downeaster (Portland - Boston, MA) in 2001. This Amtrak service now carries more than half a million passengers each year. This train provides $6.2 million in wages to directly employ 100 local workers, and supports 155 Maine businesses through the purchase of $5 million in local goods and services. Amtrak’s Downeaster also transports 100,000 annual visitors to Maine, who bring in $29 million in tourism revenue​.

  • Amtrak Hiawatha (Wisconsin): with ridership up 103 percent since 2001, a coalition of Wisconsin businesses operate a series of private shuttles to connect their workforce to this corridor, and are actively working with state leaders to help support an additional 10 daily frequencies (the state currently support seven). The Hiawatha provides $4.8 million in wages to directly employ 62 Wisconsinites, and injects $12.7 million in local businesses through vendor contracts.

Rail Passengers urges the Mobile City Council to embrace an ambitious vision for their city and their state by voting to commit local funds next week.

Take Action: the Southern Rail Commission and Rail Passengers Association Needs Your Help!

On Tuesday, February 4th, the Mobile City Council will decide whether or not to endorse a resolution committing financial support toward the restoration of Amtrak service along the Gulf Coast.

What can you do? The City Council needs to hear from you! Click here to see how you can help

Mobile & Gulf Coast Coverage Round-Up

Congressional Democrats Unveil Infrastructure Proposal, With $55 billion for Rail Across Five Years

House Democrats unveiled a $760 billion, five-year infrastructure outline that would invest in America’s railways, transit systems, roads and bridges, water and sewer systems, and other elements of U.S. infrastructure. The plan targets $55 billion in rail funding, $105 billion for public transit, along with $319 billion for highways and $30 billion for airports.

Democrats called the proposal transformative, saying it will create an estimated 10 million jobs and help address environmental challenges. While the plan was light on details, it did include some specific investment figures broken down by mode.

RAIL TRANSPORTATION: $55 BILLION ($11 billion per year across five years): “Year after year, the needs of our country’s passenger rail network grow. While demand for passenger rail, including commuter and intercity rail service, has increased substantially in recent years, our investment in the network that transports tens of millions of passengers annually has lagged significantly. The mounting need for investment in the country’s busiest rail corridor – the Northeast Corridor – is great, totaling tens of billions of dollars, while rail passengers outside the Northeast Corridor, traveling to destinations near and far, similarly suffer from woeful under-investment. In order to meet future demand, increase capacity, reduce congestion, and meet a state of good repair, this framework makes significant investments to improve and grow the passenger rail network while also ensuring safety is held to the highest standard.”

Other House Democrat principles include bringing the existing passenger rail into a state of good repair; establishing new or improved intercity, commuter, or higher-speed passenger rail corridors; and providing continued support for Amtrak’s complete passenger rail network, including the Northeast Corridor, State-Supported routes and Long-Distance routes.

TRANSIT INVESTMENTS: $105 BILLION ($21 billion per year across five years): Principles include speeding project delivery and prioritizing frequency of service.

We expect specifics on rail and transit proposals to come out later in the year from the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, which is working on its reauthorization proposal. And while the Senate will come up with its own proposal, it is exciting to see this kind of ambition from House lawmakers.

Illinois Members of Congress Call on Amtrak to Make Train Travel Affordable, Accessible for Disabled Passengers

U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL-4) wrote to Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson urging Amtrak to review and improve its disability and accessibility policies following a high profile incident in Illinois earlier this month.

“We are deeply disappointed by Amtrak’s initial quote of $25,000 that was offered to a group of disability advocates – five of whom use wheelchairs – when seeking to purchase tickets and arrange for reasonable accommodations to travel aboard Amtrak’s Lincoln Service from the City of Chicago to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois,” wrote the Members of Congress. “The time has come for Amtrak to hold itself accountable for making intercity passenger rail readily accessible to all Americans.”

While Amtrak had already walked back its actions, recognizing their mistake, the Members of Congress are asking for additional steps, including:

  • Create a new position on Amtrak’s Executive Leadership Team;

  • Work with Congress to establish a new seat on the Amtrak Board of Directors to be filled by a member of the disability community.

With Missouri Behind on its Bills, Amtrak River Runner Service Needs Additional Funds

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna told state lawmakers last week that it’s behind on payments to Amtrak for the state-supported River Runner service. The debt currently stands at $6.5 million, not including the $11.65 million owed for the current year.

Speaking before the Missouri House Budget Committee, McKenna called the situation an "embarrassment" that needs to be addressed immediately to avoid any threat to continuing the popular train service. Amtrak has not threatened to end the service, but McKenna believes it is likely if the debt is left unaddressed.

"You generally don't continue to get services you don't pay for," McKenna told the committee members.

While members from districts not served by Amtrak questioned whether the service was worth it, representative of cities and rural communities along the line emphasized that the River Runner is a vital transportation link that more than pays for itself with the tourists it brings to the area.

There are two complicating factors lawmakers will need to consider. The first is the 12 percent interest Amtrak has started charging on the state’s debt, with the railroad citing Congressional directives to minimize operational deficits. The second is a $50 million Federal Railroad Administration grant the state took to make upgrades to the rail corridor. If Missouri fails to run passenger service along the corridor for the required 20-year period, they will have to repay the FRA; if they ended service this year, the penalty would come to $36 million.

“We have to deal with these folks at the federal level,” concluded McKenna. “We're not paying our bill.”

While Missouri lawmakers deserve criticism for letting this debt grow, Congress must share in the blame. By forcing the cost of operations for Amtrak services under 750 miles onto unprepared states in 2010 as part of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, they guaranteed that problems like this would arise. It also demonstrates why it is so hard to develop new service along multi-state corridors. Until there is a dedicated and predictable source of funding for passenger rail, Americans will spend more time working to preserve what we have than building something better.

Amtrak Starts Work on 147-Year Old Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel

Next month, Amtrak crews will officially begin rehab work on the two-track Baltimore & Potomac (B&P) Tunnel - which first opened in 1873. Nearly 1000 feet of track and block ties are scheduled to be replaced over the next eight weekends which will allow for minimum service disruptions. Amtrak VP and Chief Engineer Gery Williams stated that this maintenance is not a “silver bullet” but will give them time to progress to the next steps. Following an Environmental Impact Statement that was completed in 2017, Amtrak is moving forward with plans to replace the tunnel under the City of Baltimore completely with a new four-track system. Once ground is broken on that project, it is estimated to take 12 to 15-years to complete.

Read the full release from Amtrak here

NJ Transit Gets Scathing Review From State Officials

Behind schedule on federal Positive Train Control (PTC) installation, dozens of crumbling bridges left off priority lists, and nearly 20,000 delayed trains over the last two years were just some of the findings listed in a report from the New Jersey state auditor on the current state of the NJ Transit system. Auditor Stephen Mills said, in the report released yesterday, that it was “debatable” if the state could complete the PTC work before the December 31, 2020 deadline. If the deadline passes without testing and certification of completion, New Jersey risks being forced to shut down their commuter rail system or pay $27,000 in fines per day to keep the trains running without the PTC work finished. The report also cited that officials failed to reveal higher costs of implementation due to the hiring of multiple consultants to oversee the work being done. The initial projected cost of $225 million has now nearly doubled to half a billion dollars.

While the report painted a very grim picture of the state of transit in New Jersey, the findings did not come as a surprise to many involved. NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett, in an eight-page response, said that the auditor’s report was alarming but that they “didn’t need another report to know things are bad.'' Corbett has been chairing a Senate Select Committee to deal with the issues with the aim of finding solutions and strategies to better serve commuters. Governor Phil Murphy, who stated earlier this month that he will “fix NJ Transit even if it kills him”, released a statement that he will be ordering new buses and trains as well as hiring more employees - a shortfall which has contributed heavily to the on-time performance issues.

Utah Governor Calls for More Transit to Improve Environment and Create Jobs

Utah Governor Gary Herbert used his state of the state address this week to call for an additional $34 million for transit, to increase the state’s economic growth and protect the environment for future Utahans.

In addition to calling for more commuter rail and transit, Herbert also highlighted his administration’s $66 million request for new electric vehicle charging stations, saying the state should embrace a multimodal vision for its transportation network.

While the governor recognized the role rail and transit plays in maintaining a healthy economy for metropolitan areas, Herbert stressed that protecting a high quality of life is just as important.

“[It’s] about the environment that we live in,” the Republican governor told the assembled lawmakers. “We need to ensure that our children have safe places to play, clean air to breathe and good water to drink.”

Maryland Lawmakers Want Direct MARC Service to Northern Virginia

Maryland Delegate Jared Solomon (D-Montgomery) has introduced legislation that would allow through-running for MARC commuter trains to travel south of Washington Union Station, allowing one-seat rides for Maryland workers looking to connect to jobs in Northern Virginia.

“It is so critical that people have a way to get to and from Northern Virginia and to and from the Maryland suburbs without having to drive,” Solomon told the Washington Post. “The more options that we can present to people that don’t necessarily revolve around driving, the better.”

The law would direct the Maryland Department of Transportation to begin negotiations with DC, Virginia, Virginia Railway Express, and CSX to allow MARC trains to connect to stations in Arlington and Alexandria, with an initial goal of two southbound trips in the morning, and two return trips in the evening.

With heavily congested roads, sky-high housing prices, and an influx of 25,000 new jobs expected from Amazon HQ2, the DC-Maryland-Virginia metro region is struggling to accommodate growth while maintaining quality of life for residents. Joe McAndrew, director of transportation policy at the Greater Washington Partnership, said Solomon’s proposal will be a test of how committed local leaders are to providing solutions to these challenges.

“The bill is an important step to answering what we can do in the near term and make that a reality,” McAndrew argues.

In our reauthorization blueprint, Rail Passengers criticizes this very model of fragmented, patchwork rail systems that duplicate operating costs and restrict connectivity—providing slower and less frequent service at a higher cost to passengers. We propose a comprehensive restructuring of intercity, commuter, and urban rail systems to introduce a hybrid urban-suburban rail model, which has already been a demonstrated success in Germany (S-Bahn) and France (Paris RER). While it is difficult—and perhaps impossible—to produce a one-size-fits-all policy solution to unify these patchwork systems across the US, the kinds of incremental steps being proposed by Solomon are a good first step, and will allow for faster, more frequent rail service.

Railroad Manufacturers Tout Energy Efficiency of Rail to Global Leaders

Executives from Talgo spoke to international policymakers last month on the need to utilize modern passenger rail technology to preserve our quality of life in the face of climate change. Carlos Palacio Oriol, Chairman of Talgo, spoke last month at COP25, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where he said modern railroad equipment must play a key role in reducing our overdependence on carbon-intensive modes like air travel and automobiles.

“The direct way to maximize its efficiency and minimize the emission of greenhouse gases is to have light trains with advanced technical characteristics in terms of energy efficiency, such as the Talgos," said Palacio Oriol.

Panelists at the event discussed the need for industrial processes to reorganize around sustainability, so that economic development is not in opposition to meeting carbon reduction goals, and communities can thrive while improving natural resource management and conservation.

The Chairman of Talgo argued rail, with its distinct efficiency advantages compared to planes and cars, is well positioned to play a greater role in future transportation networks. Palacio Oriol said Talgo trainsets, which are 25% compared to its direct competitors in the sector, are particularly environmentally friendly, requiring roughly 30% less energy to run compared to other high-speed trains.

You can read Talgo's full comments here, https://bit.ly/2GJPHvY

You can read more about COP25 at https://unfccc.int/cop25

New Year, New Fights, New Energy!

Now that 2020 has begun, Congress will soon kick into high gear to decide what kind of passenger rail network our country will have in the next five years and beyond. It’s called “Reauthorization,” and it’s a mouthful. But it’s what we’ve all been working for since 2017, and now that 2020 is here, your Rail Passengers Association professional staff is taking the fight for More Trains, Better Trains and Better Infrastructure directly to people who make the decisions. We can’t do that without your voice and without your financial support. As a charitable organization, we rely on the generosity of others so that we can continue being the voice of the passenger. As the only national organization that consistently advances the cause of commuter rail, regional rail, and inter-city rail as well as Amtrak’s national network trains, our concerted efforts have saved national routes from what once seemed to be certain demise and have prevented many of the worst cuts that had been planned to sought-after services such as food offerings and sleeping car accommodations.

We need your help so that we can continue to fight for the country’s 40+ million rail passengers...including YOU! To donate with a credit card, click on the image below. You can also mail in a donation, written out to the Rail Passengers Association at 1200 G Street NW, Suite 240, Washington, DC 20005, ATTN: Jonsie Stone/Hotline. Please include “Hotline Donation” in the check’s memo field. If you live in the DC area, please feel free to drop a donation off at the same address.

Click the image below to donate!


#ICYMI - In Case You Missed It: This Week’s Social Media Highlights

This week we covered the framework of the House infrastructure bill, the possible delay of the new Acela trains, and spent a lot of time focusing on the upcoming vote in Mobile for Gulf Coast Rail.

Do you want to weigh in on the digital conversation? Join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay in touch and up to date on all things RPA everyday.

Top Comments from our Facebook Page:

A majority of the comments we received this week were weighing in on the return of Gulf Coast Rail. Dennis R. Fakes commented “Mobile has a chance to shine. TAKE IT MOBILE” and Kendra Anspaugh said “As a New Orleanian who loves taking the train, this would be awesome!” - while Jacqueline Cloud Hernandez reminded us that the clock is ticking “Let’s get this signed! Grant money is at stake!”

Membership News and Notices

  • If you need assistance to change your membership level and the auto-renewal payment associated with it, PLEASE contact our office at 202-408-8362 ext. 3123 instead of contacting your financial institution for a chargeback.

    If during your renewal/join process the “Submit” was clicked multiple times, more than one payment could be have been processed. PLEASE contact our office at 202-408-8362 ext. 3123 instead of contacting your financial institution for a chargeback. By contacting the Rail Passengers Association directly, we can verify IF multiple payments were processed and we’d be happy to initiate a refund in that circumstance. By working through your bank instead of contacting the Rail Passengers Association for assistance, the Association could be assessed fees. We are happy to quickly assist you with your membership needs but we need to be made aware that assistance is needed.

Effectively immediately, any unjustified chargebacks will be met with a $250.00 fee.

  • Thousands of members call and email us each week and that has skyrocketed the wait times for a response from our tiny seven person staff. Please create an account on our website and try to manage your membership there using the Frequently Asked Questions section. We understand how frustrating not receiving an immediate response can be, but all of us on staff truly appreciate your persistent efforts to support our work!

  • We are discontinuing monthly memberships for new members. Current members with a monthly membership will be unaffected by this change, unless their membership lapses. If you are a monthly member and your membership lapses for more than 30 days, you will have to renew as an annually paying member.

  • As of Tuesday, January 28, 2020, our “retail descriptor” on credit card and bank statements will appear as NARP/RPA. Previously, this had been a telephone number.


When? Monday, February 3 through Friday, February 7, 2020

Where? Washington, DC

Our Goal? Make more and better passenger train service an important priority for Congress when it reauthorizes the Surface Transportation Authorization in 2020.

Why? Make our “ask” early and often as Congress develops the legislative language. Make more and better passenger train service a “top of mind” issue.

Our Campaign? Visit as many Members of Congress as we can, starting with the members of key committees then expanding our effort to as many other members as we have advocates to make those visits. The more volunteers we have, the more visits we can make, and the greater impact we will have. Sean and Jim are preparing materials for us to use. We already have commitments from several Rail Passengers members. Click here to find out more!

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.

2020 Rail Passengers Council of Representatives Elections Are Underway

Voting is officially underway for the Rail Passengers Council of Representatives! There are contested elections in four states -- Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland and Pennsylvania -- and members living in those states have until FEBRUARY 22, 2020 to choose their representatives.

If You Do Not Have An Email Address

We have mailed a small number of printed ballots and candidate statements to those members who do not have email addresses on file with the Association. Those are the ONLY printed ballots that will be supplied. Watch your mailbox and cast your vote! We will accept returned ballots that are postmarked as late as February 22, 2020. Postmarks after that date will not be counted.

If You Have A Working Email Address

If you have a current, working email address on file with us here at the Association, you should have received an email with all the information you need to cast your electronic ballot. This includes a link to the state election page for your state, which has links to the candidate statements filed by those running for the open seats, as well as a link to an electronic ballot. Check your email for your voting message, and if you don’t see it, be sure to check your spam filter or spam folder to be sure you’re permitting us to send you messages. If you still have not received your email, please visit the official Council election page to vote or email [email protected] with the subject line “Council Ballot Needed.”

Who Can Vote?

You must have a current, valid Rail Passengers Association member number to vote, and your membership must be up to date so that you are a member in good standing. If you are not current or your member ID is not valid, your vote will not count. If you vote for more candidates than there are slots, your vote also will not count.

Voting Ends On February 22, 2020!

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, traveled to meet with transportation leaders in Virginia to discuss the newly announced passenger rail program which will dramatically expand service in the Commonwealth, and see what lessons can be applied to state rail plans in other states. Mathews also coordinated with leadership at the Southern Rail Commission and Transportation for America to communicate the economic benefits of rail investment to stakeholders in Alabama, toured the hotel facilities for the Spring Council meeting, and reviewed organizational and finance structures with the Rail Passengers’ Board of Directors.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, spent most of the week on sick leave. When he returned, he analyzed infrastructure proposals coming from House Democrats, and prepared for meetings on the Hill next week, and a rail safety hearing being held by the House T&I Committee on February 5th.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, thanks J.R. Price and Jerry Nunn for running a very successful training for the 9 new volunteers at the Fort Worth Central Station last Saturday. In addition to the formal training, all volunteers will shadow J.R and Jerry for at least two shifts before their solo shifts. Carolyn will also be traveling to Lawrence, KS on Tuesday to participate in the station volunteer open house scheduled for Thursday, February 6 and Saturday, February 8, 10:30-noon each day at the Satna Fe Station, 413 East 7th Street, Lawrence, KS.

  • Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, returned from his two-week advocacy trip of the Southeast this week and continued supporting those on the ground in Mobile for the upcoming City Council vote.

  • Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, returned to Texas after traveling through the Southeast over the last two-weeks for the field team’s advocacy trip. Madi has been monitoring the Association's social media channels as well as creating infographics and content to help with the upcoming vote in Mobile. They will be traveling next week through to the Southwest to California to visit family.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week working on 2020 outreach plans/efforts, working with our banking partners in the transition of our lockbox services, processing donation and membership payments sent directly to the office as well as talking with members/partners who called the office directly.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, worked on streamlining internal processes, sent out membership cards, answered member queries, and resent Council election information to all current members in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Maryland, and Kentucky (if you live in one of these states and haven’t received a ballot, please click here for your state’s election ballot!).


Gifts from Donor Advised Funds
If you have a donor advised fund, please consider recommending a grant from your fund to be the Rail Passengers Association. It is a great way to maintain flexibility with your support throughout the year. For more information, go to http://myimpact.railpassengers.org/daf. As always, please feel free to contact Jonsie Stone if you have any questions.

The Rail Passengers Association would like to thank our Annual Partners for their support!

We are excited to welcome Alstom as our newest Annual Partner.



Make Plans To Attend RailNation:DC 2020

Washington, DC - Sunday, March 29 through Wednesday, April 1!

  • The Rail Passengers’ 2020 Annual Advocacy Summit Is Monday, March 30; The ‘Day on The Hill’ & Congressional Reception Is Tuesday, March 31 And The Annual Council Business Meeting Is Wednesday, April 1

  • Host Hotel - Embassy Suites Alexandria Old Town (At The King Street Metro & Alexandria Amtrak Stations) - Discounted Group Rate Rooms Are Now Available!

  • Event Registration Is Now Open!

  • Visit The Event Page For Complete Information & Details

Upcoming Regional Rail Passengers Association and State Passengers Association Member Meetings & Events

Please contact Joe Aiello ([email protected]) to have a local, state or regional meeting added to the Rail Passengers calendar (print and on-line) of upcoming events!

Amtrak Passenger Service Notices

Track Work Affects Trains 66 and 67 Traveling Through Richmond, VA

Mon. through Thurs., Feb. 3 through 27, 2020

Due to track work being performed by CSX Transportation, Amtrak service will be affected around Richmond Staples Mill as shown below:

Monday through Thursday, Feb. 3 through 27:

  • Train 66, which normally operates between Newport News and Boston, will originate at Richmond Staples Mill. o Alternate transportation will be provided via Bus 6166 between Newport News and Richmond Staples Mill, making the intermediate stop at Williamsburg. There will be no service to Richmond Main Street.

  • Train 67, which normally operates between Boston and Newport News, will terminate at Richmond Staples Mill. o Alternate transportation will be provided via Bus 6167 between Richmond Staples Mill and Newport News, making the intermediate stop at Williamsburg. There will be no service to Richmond Main Street.

  • One bus will operate as Buses 6066 and 6166, operating 30 minutes earlier than the train schedule.

  • Trains 66 and 67 will operate on a normal schedule on President’s Day, Monday, Feb. 17.


Trains 66 and 67 may see delays up to 30 minutes beginning January 27.

Station Elevator Out of Service Rome, NY, Station

Effective Immediately

The elevator located inside the Rome, NY, station is out of service until further notice.

Elevator Options

Passengers requiring an elevator may board at the Utica station, approximately 20 minutes east of Rome.

Allow Extra Time – Don’t Miss Your Train

Customers using the stairs may need to allow extra time to get to the boarding platform.

William H Gray III 30th Street Station

Little Market St. Temporarily Closed

Effective Thursdays Jan. 30, Feb. 6 and 13, 2020

Due to updates being performed on the lower level platforms, the designated ridesharing pick up/drop off lane, Little Market Street, will be temporarily closed on the dates above.

During this time, ridesharing companies may pick up and discharge passengers at the former ridesharing location on the 30th Street side of the station.

Northeast Corridor Service Schedule Changes

Effective through Mar. 20, 2020

Due to the Mystic River Bridge outage, Northeast Regional and Acela schedules will be adjusted as outlined below.

New York, NY to Boston, MA:

Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains will be operating between 30 minutes earlier and 5 minutes later on the Northeast Corridor.

New Flexible Dining Service Launches on the Silver Star

An Exclusive Benefit for Sleeping Car Customers

Effective May 1, 2020

Starting May 1, Amtrak will debut a new, complementary dining experience exclusively for Sleeping Car customers aboard the Silver Star: flexible dining. This dining service is currently available on six routes: Capitol Limited, Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited and Silver Meteor. Sleeping Car customers aboard the Silver Star can expect the following enhancements to their trip:

  • A new dining menu with hot, ready-to-serve choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • A wide selection of wine, beer and spirits (the first one is on us), plus unlimited soft drinks throughout the journey

  • Complimentary room service provided by the Sleeping Car attendant

  • Exclusive onboard lounge space for Sleeping Car customers to dine and socialize 24x7

  • Flexible dining times without the need for reservations

The new flexible dining menu offers entrees such as:

  • Lunch & Dinner: Asian Noodle Bowl, Red Wine Braised Beef, Chicken Fettuccini with Broccoli, Creole Shrimp and Andouille. Plus, a children’s menu with Pasta and Meatballs.

  • Breakfast: Deluxe Continental Breakfast will be served buffet style from a selection of muffins, yogurt, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, cereal, oatmeal, breakfast sandwich.

  • Dessert: Blondies, Brownies

Café service will also be available for both Sleeping Car and Coach customers, offering meals, snacks and beverages for sale. More information and sample menus can be found at Amtrak.com/flexdining. Information on special dietary requirements, including kosher meal requests, can be found at Amtrak.com/dining.

Amtrak’s traditional dining service will continue to be offered on seven overnight routes: California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle and for sleeping car customers aboard the Auto Train.

In the coming months, customers aboard overnight trains can also expect:

  • The completion of fully refreshed Amfleet II cars for Coach class along the East Coast, including new seating cushions, carpets, curtains and LED reading lights.

  • Upgraded bedding, towels and linens for Sleeping Cars-beginning with the Auto Train

  • The debut of new Viewliner II Sleeping Cars for trains on the East Coast-the first addition to the Amtrak sleeper fleet in over 25 years.

Crescent Trains 19 and 20 Bus Service Provided between Atlanta and New Orleans

Effective through Feb. 20, 2020

Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern Railway will affect Trains 19 and 20 between New Orleans and Atlanta, on the following dates:

Monday through Thursday

February 3 through February 6

February 10 through February 13

February 17 through February 20

Southbound Train 19: Service Operating New York to Atlanta Only

  • On the dates shown above, Train 19 will terminate in Atlanta. Passengers will be provided bus service from Atlanta to Anniston, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Meridian, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Picayune, Slidell and New Orleans.

  • On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Train 19 will operate normally, serving all stations on the route.

Northbound Train 20: Service Operating Atlanta to New York Only

  • On the dates shown above, Train 20 will originate in Atlanta. Passengers will be provided bus service from New Orleans to Slidell, Picayune, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Meridian, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston and Atlanta.

  • On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Train 20 will operate normally, serving all stations on the route.

Pacific Surfliner Weekend Service Changes

Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Feb. 2, 2020

Track work being performed by North County Transit District will affect Pacific Surfliner service, on the dates shown below:

Friday, Jan. 31

  • Train 590 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

  • Bus service will be provided from Los Angeles to San Diego, making stops at Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and San Diego Downtown. No alternate transportation will be provided to Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano.

Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 1-2

  • Trains 562, 578, 583, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573, 1590 and 1591 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

  • Southbound Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between Los Angeles and San Diego. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.

  • Southbound Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles and bus service will be provided for all missed stops.

  • Southbound Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will operate normally to Irvine, where bus service will be provided from Irvine to San Diego. Express buses will run from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and downtown San Diego only.

  • Northbound Trains 579, 593, 595, 763, 777, 785, 1761 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided from San Diego to Irvine to connect with the trains listed above, with the exception of Train 1761. Buses will depart downtown San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano earlier than the train schedule to allow time to connect with trains in Irvine. o Buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego. Passengers can take the trolley to downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.

    • Bus service will not be provided to connect with Train 1761.

    • Metrolink will honor Amtrak tickets between San Juan Capistrano and Los Angeles.

Please note: There will be no checked baggage or express service south of Santa Ana on the dates shown above. Alternate bus service will not serve San Clemente Pier.

Travel Tip of the Week

Free companion travel to and from Missouri’s capital now through February

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Amtrak and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) are promoting travel to and from the state capital in Jefferson City with a “BOGO” sale offering free companion travel through next month.

For each adult coach ticket bought for travel through February 29 with Jefferson City origins or destinations using discount code V716, a second adult on the same itinerary will be ticketed to travel coach free of charge on the Amtrak Missouri River Runner trains. Prices are as low as these fares for two adults between these Missouri cities, quoted each way:

Travel for Two Adults Between These Cities


Travel for Two Adults Between These Cities


St. Louis – Jefferson City


Kansas City – Jefferson City


Kirkwood – Jefferson City


Independence – Jefferson City


Washington – Jefferson City


Lee’s Summit – Jefferson City


Hermann – Jefferson City


Warrensburg – Jefferson City


Sedalia – Jefferson City


*Fares as low as this price, using Discount Code V716.


  • This offer is valid for adult coach seats only

  • No additional discounts apply (that means our Rail Passengers discount)

  • All sales are final

  • No upgrades allowed

  • This offer is not combinable with any other discount offer

  • Exchanges are permitted within the ticket validity period

  • A 25% percent cancellation fee applies

For more information, including other important terms and conditions, visit Amtrak.com.

These fares thank the community for its patience while local, state and Amtrak officials worked to provide a modular building to serve as a temporary station. It is located along the boarding platform a half-block west of the regular Amtrak station, which closed for repairs in October at the direction of the building’s owner, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

“Jefferson City leaders have been strong advocates for their community who worked to create a safe, secure and accessible facility,” said Bryan Ross, MoDOT Rail Operations Manager.

“Both Amtrak and MoDOT also are grateful for the work of the station hosts, unpaid volunteers who meet every train, every day, to help our customers and endured weeks without adequate shelter or running water,” said Derrick James, Senior Manager, Amtrak Government Affairs. “We’re very glad those days are behind us and we look forward to working with local and state officials on a permanent solution.”

TravelReview Feedback Card

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 problems in accessing the file, please send an email to [email protected]

Lonely Planet's Amazing Train Journeys

Planning a holiday-season vacation including trains, or looking for a great holiday gift idea, 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!

Looking towards 2020

As the decade comes to a close, we reflect on all of our accomplishments over the past 10 years and consider what the coming years might have in store. As you may know, 2020 will be a critical year in determining the future of passenger rail service nationwide.

Amtrak is quasi-public corporation, with the federal government providing a significant portion of the railroad’s annual operations and capital budget. The current funding authorization expires at the end of FY2020, and in 2020 the Rail Passengers Association will be leading efforts in the courts and on Capitol Hill to ensure that America’s passenger rail service continues to thrive. We will fight to sustain our vision of “A Connected America” where all of us, rich or poor, rural or urban, are linked together.

We’re committed to this work and ready to take action, but we can’t do it alone. As we look towards 2020, please consider donating to support this critical work.