February 7, 2020
Rail news for the week ending February 7th
The February Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.
Advocates Deliver A Crucial Win To Restore Gulf Coast Rail Service
Although the politicking for the past few weeks made it a real nail-biter, this week the Mobile City Council did the right thing and voted 6-1 to move forward with its share of the funding to bring rail service back to at least a small segment of the Gulf Coast -- Mobile to New Orleans.
It's a huge win for all the communities from Alabama through Mississippi and Louisiana that Rail Passengers advocates and staff, including CEO Jim Mathews, have been visiting for years to push this along.
This important victory clears the way for service to resume between New Orleans and Mobile more than a decade after Hurricane Katrina wiped it out. None of this would have happened without the work of our members, the Southern Rail Commission, Transportation for America, Amtrak, and forward-looking elected officials in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. We can’t thank these people enough, and we’re ready to get to work to get this train up and running.
There's one other small hurdle -- Mobile is requiring a study proving that the service won't tangle up the Port of Alabama -- but we all know that four trains a day, operating mostly on a siding, won't crimp the port.
Mathews used the win this week to re-emphasize the importance of grassroots activism and relentlessly cheerful and polite pressure. “Pressure from regular citizens living and working in Mobile really helped to make this happen. AL.com columnist John Archibald made an absolutely crucial point this afternoon, a point that's relevant not only for Gulf Coast restoration but for all of our efforts as an Association to Connect America with more trains, better trains and better infrastructure,” Mathews wrote in a blog post on the day of the vote.
Here are some links below to some great stories published in the lead-up to this week’s important vote. The press coverage really shows the energy behind restoring passenger rail to this corridor, and a lot of what was said about the Gulf Coast could be said about service elsewhere in the country.
Infrastructure Talks for 2020 Heating Up in Congress; Rail Passengers Members Travel to Washington to Advocate for Better Trains
Following a $760 billion infrastructure proposal released by House Democrats—which included $55 billion for passenger rail over five years—the work is picking up in the House on the coming surface transportation reauthorization, with Members of Congress submitting specific proposals to the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.
All of which meant it was the perfect time for Rail Passengers members to gather in Washington to petition their elected officials. As part of a “Week on the Hill” (ahead of our annual Rail Passengers Advocacy Day on the Hill, which will take place on March 31st), dozens of our members traveled to DC at their own expense to talk about the need to invest in a strong national rail network. In meetings with U.S. Senators and Representatives from across the nation, these members made specific policy suggestions to increase frequencies, modernize Amtrak’s fleet, and improve congressional oversight of Amtrak operations.
To find out more about how you can help, join us for an advocacy briefing on February 17 at 8:30pm Eastern / 5:30 PM Pacific, where Rail Passengers staff will guide you through the year ahead, tell you everything that’s happening in Washington, DC, and field your questions about Amtrak and transit service from across the US.
Find out more at RailPassengers.org/PaxBriefing. We hope you’ll join us!
North Bay Voters to Decide Future of SMART Service Next Month
California’s North Bay voters will be asked to extend an existing quarter-cent sales tax next month for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) District’s commuter train. If 2/3rds of voters approve Measure I, a critical funding stream for the service will be secured for another 30 years.
In just the past two years, SMART trains have carried more than 1.5 million passengers, including over 5,700 passengers in wheelchairs who would otherwise have struggled with mobility. Measure I will allow this important service to continue while also enabling the completion of a 72-mile extension between Larkspur and Cloverdale.
You can find more about the ballot at Stay Green, Keep SMART.
Penn Station Commuter Meltdown Highlights Long-Neglected Infrastructure
A disabled train, a failed “rescue” train and a power failure stranded thousands of New York-area commuters at Penn Station during Monday’s afternoon rush hour, in one of the system’s periodic reminders that putting off maintenance and infrastructure investment eventually costs more than it saves.
Reporting on Monday’s incident, the New York Times pointed out that for New Jersey Transit commuters whose work lives are connected to NY Penn Station this has become a regular headache, with some 60 trains canceled during one week last summer.
Amtrak reported that tracks just outside Penn Station in Manhattan lost power around 4:30 pm, which wasn’t restored until 8 p.m. Amtrak told reporters that it was “actively investigating what caused the power outage,” which affected 15 Amtrak trains along with many NJ Transit trains.
So far no word from Amtrak or NJ Transit on any further details about the incident or what might have gone wrong.
Meanwhile Amtrak continues to try to push on with efforts to make a dent in the huge backlog of state-of-good-repair work that needs to be done around the nation’s busiest rail hub, which handles 1,300 train movements every day.
15 U.S. Senators Press FRA Chief on New Hudson River Tunnels
A group of 15 Democratic Senators from the Northeast wrote to Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory to express their frustration over his agency’s continued foot-dragging on the Hudson River Tunnels project, asking the FRA to take immediate steps to finalize and approve its review to allow the project to move forward.
The existing North River tunnels are over 100 years old, and serve approximately 450 trains every day—or 200,000 passenger trips. Amtrak is in a race against time to build new tunnels to add capacity and create redundancy to allow for repairs on the existing tunnels. However, though the FRA received the draft EIS in July 2017, it has failed to take any material steps to advance the project.
“We write to express our deep disappointment that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has neither finalized and approved the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), nor issued a Record of Decision (ROD) to build a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River and provide essential repairs to the existing North River Tunnel,” wrote the Senators. “Many of us have written you about this issue in the past or raised the issue with you directly when you testified before Congress. It is unacceptable that we have yet to receive a definite timeline for completion of the environmental review. We implore you to provide an update on when we can expect a final EIS and ROD for the Hudson Tunnel Project – including confirmation of the remaining steps necessary to move the project into the design and construction phases.”
The Senators warned that failure to advance the tunnels could be catastrophic for the U.S. economy, citing a study by the Regional Plan Association which found that closing either of the North River Tunnel’s two tubes would reduce GDP by $16 billion.
The letter was signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Utah Commuter Rail Bill Advances to State Senate
This week, the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee in Utah unanimously endorsed SB92 - which would pave the way for a two-year study on the potential of a statewide commuter system. The bill’s sponsor, Jake Anderegg (R-Lehi), stated that if the state’s population is going to grow over the next few decades, they will need multimodal transportation options or that “we’re going to find ourselves in gridlock much worse than we already are.” Anderegg also said that this wouldn’t be just about “double tracking” or expanding rail service in the urban areas, but a true connection to all corners of the state.
Passenger rail advocates in Utah have also praised the move by the legislation. "The bill, which requires the Utah Department of Transportation to develop a statewide comprehensive plan for public transit and freight, is the first step towards putting highways and passenger rail on equal footing in Utah. It moves Utah one step closer to being able to realize the vision of state-sponsored Amtrak service, which is the focus of the Utah Rail Passengers Association," said Mike Christensen, UtahRPA executive director and RPA board member.
UTA To Study TRAX Expansion
While commuter service is on the minds of many in Utah this week, the Utah Transit Authority announced that they are on their way to approving a 12- to 18-month study of improving TRAX light rail service in the Salt Lake Valley. Authority officials have said that while there are already plans to expand the current Red Line, this feasibility study would also look at items such as better schedule management - with the ultimate goal of running trains every 5 minutes.
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.
#ICYMI - In Case You Missed It: This Week’s Social Media Highlights
This week we covered the important victory for passenger rail advocates in Mobile, AL and the entire Gulf Coast, a sighting of a Zephyr Siemens Charger test train in Utah, the record breaking ridership on the Downeaster, and a number of local transit stories - just to name a few.
Top Comments from our Facebook Page: In reference to the news about the Downeaster, Bob Greeley said that “my two favorite words when it comes to train travel: record ridership!” (ours too, Bob!) After seeing the Zephyr test train video, Glenn Fontaine stated that “having an electric locomotive would certainly help for that long tunnel in Colorado.” Finally - Mark Adamcik, on a post about the great news coming out of Mobile this week, said “this type of work is what RPA is all about. I hope that this will make it easier to resume the Gulf Wind to Jacksonville” (Thank you, Mark! We couldn’t do it without the support of members and advocates like you)
SEPTA Continues Rollout of “Tap-to-Exit” Program
Starting this week, Regional Rail passengers using the Center City station in Downtown Philadelphia will need to their rail cards and passes to exit at specific turnstiles as part of the slow rollout of the new program. Center City joins Jefferson Station as the only two with the “tap-to-exit” turnstiles, but plan to expand to three others later this winter. The slow progress will help the commuters get used to the new program instead of launching all at once. The agency hopes to have every station up and running with the new exit method by the summer.
Read SEPTA’s media release here
MassDOT Releases East-West Rail Cost Estimates
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation released the first official cost estimates yesterday for the proposed passenger rail connection between Boston and Western Massachusetts - with the high end option coming in at $25 billion. The report details six different proposals that range from adding train service to Springfield and bus connections to Pittsfield for $2 billion - to a complete overhaul of the tracks to allow for 150-mph service for the aforementioned $25B. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack called the costs “sobering” and stated that there would need to be a federal partner to “get this done”.
You can read the breakdown of each option here.
Former state Secretary of Transportation and current TransitMatters board member, Jim Aloisi, took to social media after the report was released and commented that the “report contains such questionable modeling that it’s being viewed as wholly unreliable & deliberately negative.”
This is not the first time that MassDOT has been called out by advocates for cost estimates associated with passenger rail studies that they have released. In the fall of 2018, Rail Passengers Field Coordinator Joe Aiello blogged about the state’s “sandbagging” of the North-South Rail Link project.
Rail Passengers Join With DMV Business Coalition to Support Long Bridge Project
Rail Passengers joined with a coalition of transportation groups from the D.C. – Maryland – Virginia region to urge District leaders to support for the Long Bridge project, a key regional priority to expand and enhance the mobility of our residents and place the District at the center of the Northeast and Southeast rail corridors.
The Greater Washington Partnership, an alliance of civic-minded business groups who are working to improve infrastructure in the DMV region, brought together 20 supporting businesses and organizations to write to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to allocate $200 million in city funds across four years for the rail and bicycle/pedestrian portions of the project.
While Virginia will fund the lion’s share of the project, the bridge connects Virginia to D.C. and will require a match from the District. The letter to Mayor Bowser laid out the case for the bridge’s ability to tap unmet capacity in the rail network:
The Capital Region stretching from Baltimore to the District of Columbia to Richmond has extensive intercity and commuter rail connections that provided more than 22 million trips in 2017 across Amtrak, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (“MARC”), and Virginia Railway Express (“VRE”). Key bottlenecks constrain the rail system’s potential, making it less effective and reliable for the region’s residents, visitors and businesses. As our population continues to grow, the system is on the path to becoming a liability that undermines our economic competitiveness and impedes our quality of life.
Long Bridge is a key bottleneck for the region and nation’s rail system, comprising a two-track freight and passenger rail crossing constructed in 1904 over the Potomac River connecting the District of Columbia to Virginia. The bridge is at capacity during peak period today, and it must be expanded in order to meet the estimated 150 percent growth in passenger and freight service over the next 20 years from 76 trains a day today to more than 190 trains a day.
The Long Bridge project will remove millions of automotive trips off of local roads, create thousands of new jobs, provide nearly $3 billion in direct construction benefits to the region and grow the annual GDP by $6 billion by 2040.
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 can sometimes have been processed. The best thing to do if you think that has happened is to CONTACT US instead of contacting your financial institution to dispute the charge or initiate a chargeback. By contacting the Rail Passengers Association directly at 202-408-8362 ext. 3123, we can verify IF multiple payments were processed and we’d be happy to initiate a refund on our end in that circumstance. Often by working through your bank instead of contacting the Rail Passengers Association for help, we get assessed chargeback fees. This diverts our income, which is mostly membership dollars, into paying fees instead of working on our mission. We are happy to quickly assist you with your membership needs but we need to be made aware that assistance is needed.
If you renew your membership by mail, please be sure to double check the form you send in with your payment! We will update your membership dues only if you return a form asking you to RENEW your membership. Forms asking you to DONATE will be processed as donations, not membership dues payments. (Donations are 100% tax-deductible, and membership dues are tax-deductible minus any AGR points you receive at 2.5 cents each).
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.
If you believe the credit card or bank account you set up for membership renewal or recurring donation payments was charged inadvertently, please contact our office at 202-408-8362. We can verify if the charge had been set up and can assist with changing the payment processing if needed.
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. In one week, the Membership line alone gets more than 2,000 inbound phone calls! 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!
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
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, had two items that were top-of-mind this week: securing the crucial Mobile City Council vote to go ahead with restoring Amtrak service suspended after Hurricane Katrina, and doing a deep dive into emerging Federal Railroad Administration standards for new-generation passenger trainsets as part of his role as a voting member of the FRA’s Passenger Safety Working Group. The FRA panel held a two-day session in Washington, D.C., this week.
Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, helped Rail Passengers members with meetings during the Week on the Hill, attended a rail safety briefing held by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Rail, discussed strategies to improve Amtrak’s ticket policy following recent changes implemented by management, and helped prepare materials for Rail Passengers’ RailNation: D.C. 2020.
Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, has been enjoying the wonderful hospitality of residents in Lawrence, KS, this week. Rail Passengers members and other interested residents came out in support of the volunteer program at the Santa Fe Station yesterday and many signed up to participate. A second open house is scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, February 8.
Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, assisted fellow advocates on the ground in Mobile this week as the City Council voted to approve a resolution to bring passenger rail back to the Gulf Coast. Joe has also been working with the rest of the DC staff in preparing for RailNation: DC
Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, traveled to California this week to spend time with family.
Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week writing direct mail and email campaigns which you will see in the coming weeks, generating thank you letters, talking with members/partners and taking care of Association administrative needs.
Kim Williams, Membership Manager, spent half of the week out of the office on personal leave, and the other half taking member calls, processing AGR points, collecting Council Election ballots, resending email ballot information to members in Kentucky, Colorado, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and making system updates to our membership database.
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!
Visit The Event Page For Complete Information & Details
Upcoming Regional Rail Passengers Association and State Passengers Association Member Meetings & Events
Saturday, February 8 - Santa Fe Train Station Open House, Lawrence, KS
Saturday, February 29 - North Alabama Advocates Get-Together, Huntsville, AL
Saturday, March 7 - 2020 New York State Rail Advocates Annual Meeting & Lunch - Schenectady, NY
Saturday, March 21 - 2020 New England Rail Advocates Annual Meeting & Lunch - New London, CT
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
San Joaquins Service Schedule Changes
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Track work being performed by BNSF Railway will affect San Joaquins service on Sunday, February 9.
Trains 704, 712, 714, 716 and 718 will terminate at Stockton. Passengers will be provided bus service via Buses 4304, 4310, 4312, 4314, 4316 and 4318 between Stockton and Fresno. At Fresno, passengers can board their respective 1700-series train to Bakersfield and intermediate stations.
Trains 703, 713, 715, 717 and 719 will originate at Stockton. At Bakersfield, passengers can board their respective 1700-series train to Fresno and intermediate stations. Passengers will be provided bus service via Buses 4303, 4313, 4315, 4317 and 4319 between Fresno and Stockton. At Stockton, passengers can board their respective 700-series train.
Passengers travelling to or from Turlock-Denair and Madera will have an additional transfer to a 4800-series van at Fresno, Merced or Modesto.
Train and bus schedules from Stockton to Bakersfield, Fresno to Sacramento and Fresno to Oakland have been adjusted to depart up to 60 minutes later than normal times.
Interline Thruway Service Connecting Peoria and Champaign
Effective Feb. 1, 2020
Effective Feb. 1, Amtrak will start selling Interline Thruway Service between Peoria and Champaign.
Buses 8092 and 8093 will offer service between Peoria and Champaign, with intermediate stops at Springfield and Decatur operated by Illinois Charter.
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
The elevator located inside the Rome, NY, station is out of service until further notice.
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 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 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.
Travel Tip of the Week
1,122 TravelReviews Submitted
Earn Free Summer Travel
Planning your summer travel? Amtrak is offering free summer travel. Take three roundtrips on Acela or Northeast Regional between January 2 and February 29, 2020 to earn one free roundtrip to take this summer.
Terms and Conditions
Take six qualifying one-way trips on Acela from January 2, 12:00 am CST - February 29, 2020, 11:59 pm CST and get two Free Trip coupons.
Each coupon is valid for one free one-way Acela trip.
Minimum spend of $89 per one-way segment is required for travel to qualify.
Limit of two qualifying one-way segments per day and one qualifying segment per train number per day.
Free Trip coupons are redeemable for Acela Business class travel from July 1, 12:00 am CST - August 31, 2020, 11:59 pm CST.
A maximum of four coupons may be earned.
Must be an Amtrak Guest Rewards member and register for this offer to participate.
Members who have Select Executive status from January 2, 12:00 am - February 29, 2020, 11:59 pm CST will earn coupons redeemable for Acela First class travel.
Register online at Amtrak.com/123FREEAcela.
Take six qualifying one-way trips on Northeast Regional from January 2, 12:00 am CST - February 29, 2020 11:59 pm CST and get two Free Trip coupons.
Each coupon is valid for one free one-way Northeast Regional trip.
Minimum spend of $49 per one-way segment is required for travel to qualify.
Limit of two qualifying one-way segments per day and one qualifying segment per train number per day.
Travel with a monthly pass or using multi-ride tickets does not qualify for this promotion.
Free Trip coupons are redeemable for Northeast Regional Coach class travel from July 1, 12:00 am CST - August 31, 2020 11:59 pm CST.
A maximum of four coupons may be earned.
Must be an Amtrak Guest Rewards member and register for this offer to participate.
Members who have Select Executive status from January 2 - February 29, 2020 will earn coupons redeemable for Northeast Regional Business class travel.
Register online at Amtrak.com/123FREENER.
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.
"I wish to extend my appreciation to members of the Rail Passengers Association for their steadfast advocacy to protect not only the Southwest Chief, but all rail transportation which plays such an important role in our economy and local communities. I look forward to continuing this close partnership, both with America’s rail passengers and our bipartisan group of senators, to ensure a bright future for the Southwest Chief route."
Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS)
April 2, 2019, on receiving the Association's Golden Spike Award for his work to protect the Southwest Chief