Happening Now

Hotline #1,154

February 14, 2020

Rail news for the week ending February 14th

The February Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.

Click here to read the digital version.

RESCHEDULED: Rail Passengers 2020 Policy + Campaign Briefing Moved to February 18

With apologies for the inconvenience, Rail Passengers will be rescheduling our planned “2020 Passenger Rail Policy + Campaign Briefing” from Monday, February 17th to Tuesday, February 18th at 8:30PM Eastern. This will allow us to brief our members without imposing on their Presidents’ Day holiday.

During the call, we plan on covering the following topics:

  • Rail Passengers’ campaign responding to the White House proposal to eliminate long-distance routes and significantly cut funding to Amtrak’s NEC and State-supported trains;

  • Amtrak’s FY2021 legislative grant request, and what it means for passengers;

  • The Congressional calendar in 2020, along with key dates and opportunities to make a difference in the critical reauthorization of the passenger rail title;

  • Intel from recent meetings on Capitol Hill by Rail Passengers’ Council Members, and a look ahead to our spring’s RailNation:DC (you can register now!).

  • Q&A where we answer your questions about passenger rail policy.

We hope to see you all on Tuesday evening! If you have any questions in the meantime, please email me at sjeansgail[@narprail.org]

You can find the login details at RailPassengers.org/PaxBriefing.

White House Targets Long-Distance Trains for Elimination in Fiscal 2021 Budget Proposal; Rail Passengers Launches Campaign to Defend National Network

The Trump Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget once again calls for the elimination of long-distance trains, wiping out funding for almost all Amtrak trains not on the east and west coasts. If enacted, 220 cities and towns would lose train service completely and 140 million Americans will completely lose all access to passenger trains.

“Amtrak trains inadequately serve many rural markets while not serving many growing metropolitan areas at all,” wrote the White House. “The Administration believes that restructuring the Amtrak system can result in better service at a lower cost, by focusing trains on better-performing routes, while providing robust intercity bus service connections.”

Rail Passengers responded immediately, launching a campaign to combat the proposal with facts about the importance of the National Network to tens of millions of Americans. In just two days, our members generated more than 2,500 individual messages to 309 House offices and 96 Senate offices!

“My message to all of you is: KEEP IT UP,” urged Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews this week. “If you haven't yet used our Rail Passengers webtool to reach out to your elected officials, just go to RailPassengers.org/Action. We've made it incredibly simple for you to make your voice heard, and every one of our tens of thousands of members nationwide should do this. It will take you no more than five minutes...so please take action today!”

[You can also call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to connect you to your Senator or House representative; just say “Please fully fund Amtrak’s National Network and Northeast Corridor grant.”]

[Rail Passengers in the News: Rail Passengers sets the record straight on the importance of the National Network.]

Just the Numbers

While the Trump Administration hasn’t provided a complete picture of its infrastructure plan—saying “full details of the Administration’s proposal will be provided in a forthcoming legislative transmittal to Congress”—there are some things we do know for sure.

FY2020 Enacted

Trump Administration FY2021 Proposal

Amtrak – Northeast Corridor

$700 million

$325 million

Amtrak – National Network

$1.3 billion

$611 million

Amtrak – Total

$2 billion

$936 million

The White House slashed National Network funding by $689 million as part of its plan to eliminate long-distance train routes. However, it also proposed cutting funding for the Northeast Corridor by $375 million. All in all, the White House proposal provides under a billion dollars for Amtrak to run existing NEC and State-supported services.

Mathews spoke to Railway Age about the irony of the White House eliminating L-D service in favor of NEC funding “on the same day his Department of Transportation gave the NEC replacement Hudson River tunnels a low priority rating,” saying “we all know that building redundancy for the existing North River Tunnels [part of the $13 billion Gateway Infrastructure Program], which currently carries around 450 intercity and commuter trains every day, is [one of] the most time-sensitive rail projects in the country.”

The Administration provides $550 million in National Network “transformational grants” which would draw down to zero over five years. This money would presumably help Amtrak cover the costs of multi-year labor agreements and contracts which—in conjunction with the lost revenue from the eliminated trains and lost connections—make getting rid of the long-distance network such an expensive proposition.

Congress, meanwhile, has responded to the proposal with a bipartisan shrug, with leaders in both parties pointing out that the existing two-year budget agreement is still in effect and they expect it to guide spending in FY2021.

“We’ve got the caps deal in place,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We negotiated it last year. It’s good for the second year, and we’ll comply with that.”

That shrug is no accident. Your Association’s professional staff in Washington has been working tirelessly to meet with key congressional members and staff to be sure they know how Amtrak service benefits the whole country. We’ve changed the congressional conversation about Amtrak during the past three years, and we’ve been able to do it with your help and support!

Rail Passengers Honors Congressman Lipinski With Golden Spike Award for Work on Building a Safer, Better Train Network

The Rail Passengers Association is honoring Congressman Dan Lipinski of Illinois with its Golden Spike Award for his 15 years of work in Congress for a safer passenger rail network, more reliable commuter rail and transit service, and better relationships between railroads and the communities they serve.

Chairman Lipinski represents Illinois’ 3rd, the rail hub of North America with the most rail crossings of any congressional district in the U.S. He has spent 12 years working on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to make sure railroads operate safely, effectively and with respect towards the communities they operate in. During that time he introduced legislation to ensure the safe transportation of freight by rail, support and create new rail manufacturing jobs for American workers, and secured hundreds of millions of dollars in investment towards the CREATE program, a public-private partnership that is easing congestion on the roads and rails in northeastern Illinois.

In recognition of his work and expertise, Lipinski was selected as chairman of the House Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials in 2019, where he will play a leading role in drafting the next generation of rail policy.

“Thank you to Jim Mathews and the Rail Passengers Association for presenting me with this prestigious award,” said Rep. Lipinski. “As Chair of the Railroad Subcommittee and a frequent rail commuter, I am always looking at ways to work with the railroads and rail advocates to improve the passenger experience. We have an important year ahead with crafting a rail title in the surface transportation reauthorization, and I look forward to leading initiatives that expand passenger rail service and make it more reliable.”

“Chairman Lipinski has earned his railroad stripes honestly -- by representing passengers, railroad workers, and trackside communities for over 15 years,” said Jim Mathews, President and CEO of the Rail Passengers Association. “We look forward to working with him on the current rail reauthorization and finally building a passenger rail network that all Americans can be proud of.”

The Rail Passengers Association will honor Chairman Lipinski on March 31st in Washington, D.C. during its annual rail passengers advocacy day on Capitol Hill.

New Alstom Acela Trainsets Head To Pueblo For Testing

We’re counting down to next year when Amtrak’s new Alstom-built trainsets enter service to replace the existing Acelas, and this week that project hit a major milestone -- a new trainset leaves its birthplace in Hornell, N.Y., on Monday headed for the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, Colo., for testing.

It's the first of 28 trainsets on order. If you want to catch a glimpse of the future of American rail travel, the train will head to Pueblo via the Lake Shore Limited and Southwest Chief routes, jumping off at La Junta.

Rail Passengers President and CEO Jim Mathews welcomed the news as heralding the beginning of a whole new round of investment and support for passenger rail throughout the country.

“We at Rail Passengers encourage all of our members to go out and watch it roll by, showing your support for new passenger-rail investment in the United States,” Mathews said. “Obviously, stay off railroad property and keep a safe distance, but let’s all celebrate this investment for what it truly is: the beginning of a new era in American passenger rail!”

“Alstom is immensely pleased to partner with Amtrak to deliver Acela high-speed trainsets for service on the Northeast Corridor,” said Jérôme Wallut, Senior Vice-President for Alstom in North America, in a press release announcing the transfer to Pueblo. “We would like to thank and congratulate all of our employees, suppliers and partners who helped make this important milestone a reality. This milestone is another step closer in the realization of high-speed train manufacturing here in America.”

“Amtrak is proud to celebrate this major achievement for the new Acela fleet program, as we are bringing customers one step closer to enjoying the benefits of these new trains,” Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson said in the same announcement. “With strong demand for Acela travel continuing to grow, we will test the trains to ensure customers will have safe and reliable service with modern amenities when these trains go into service next year.”

Alstom’s design accommodates 25% more passengers, improved WiFi, power outlets and USB ports and recycled components. It’s also a significant investment in the new green economy, and will reduce Amtrak’s carbon footprint by 40% per passenger once the trains are fully in service.

The new equipment is just one piece of an investment puzzle upgrading corridor service with improvements in tracks, signaling and stations.

With the Northeast Corridor work now well launched, Amtrak is able to begin to turn its attention to other fleet types and upgrades. Our best information is that, as it did last year, Amtrak will once again ask Congress to fund additional equipment upgrades and new procurements for National Network fleets. In its 2020 request, Amtrak sought $533 million for long-distance equipment and $374 million for corridor equipment. Amtrak also outlined a procurement pipeline for Congress that would require $450 million to begin refurbishing the Superliner fleet and $1.5 billion to replace Superliners over a five-year period.

Amtrak will ask again and we need all Rail Passengers members to let their congressional representatives and Senators know that we think the Acela upgrade should be the beginning -- and not the end -- of re-capitalizing Amtrak’s fleet for the 21st Century.

Infrastructure Forum in Nevada

On Sunday, February 16th, United for Infrastructure will host a Presidential Candidate Forum on Infrastructure, Jobs, and Building a Better America. For more information on the forum and how to watch, please click here.

Cohen Sends Dining Car Letter to Anderson

This week, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) sent a letter to Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson asking for “accurate and credible evidence that the Amtrak ridership supports decisions to end dining car service on some long-distance routes.” The letter comes as a follow-up to a line of questioning on this same topic that came up during the “Amtrak Now and Into the Future” hearing last November. This is the same hearing at which Rail Passengers Association President and CEO Jim Mathews testified.

You can read the Congressman’s letter here.

MBTA to Accelerate System Improvements

The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) announced this week a number of subway and commuter rail shutdowns over the coming year as part of their plans to speed up construction projects system-wide. This acceleration will allow the work to be done nearly eight years ahead of the originally planned schedule. State Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack stated that “the T can’t deliver on modernization without disruption, including weekday station shutdowns” and that while many riders will be inconvenienced, she reminded everyone that this is temporary and necessary for better faster service.

You can find the entire list of closures at Building a Better T 2020

Record Ridership in Virginia

In December 2019, Viriginia’s Northeast Regional Amtrak routes logged a record ridership of 100,511 passengers. This shows an increase of 27% in ridership logged the same month in 2018.Amtrak officials stated the holiday season incentives helped drive the ridership increase in their recent press release.

The Virginia Dept. of Rail and Transportation and Amtrak partner to provide same-seat trips from Newport News, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Richmond and Roanoke to D.C. and beyond as far north as Boston. Amtrak service in Virginia has grown steadily since 2009 now hosting four routes with daily round trip services running multiple times per day.

Amtrak Service to Rockford and the Quad Cities on the Horizon

Plans are continuing smoothly for Amtrak’s proposed service to the Quad Cities and Rockford. Last year the $45 billion capital bill was passed in Springfield, dedicating $225 million for service between the Quad Cities and $275 million for service to Rockford.

For the state, the next step is getting a consultant on board to manage the project. This will be followed by state environmental work completed along the Rockford line with a preliminary engineering overview and final design approval. Though the project had been put on hold during a previous election, officials are confident their reworking of the original plan will prove beneficial to these communities who have been impacted by long commutes and heavy auto traffic.

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

This week we covered new apps for commuter services, big wins for Virginia rail, and the Trump Administration proposed Amtrak budget cuts.

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:

“Keep doing what you guys are doing. Tell Congress to save Amtrak Long Distance Trains because we will need them for many generations to come” - Rob Repass

“Rode the Roanoke service last year and may also again this spring. Very nice ride and a nicer trip than slugging across VA on freeways.” - Gregg Richard

California High-Speed Rail Authority Releases Draft 2020 Business Plan for Public Review

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CAHSRA) released an updated version of its business plan this week that affirms its commitment to completing an electrified initial operating segment along the Merced - Fresno - Bakersfield corridor using the available funds secured through state and federal sources.

“This plan outlines how this program will advance to meet California’s mobility, environmental and economic objectives,” said Authority CEO Brian Kelly. “We are in an exciting time for this project and the electrification of transportation in California. In 2020, there will be 350 miles of electrified high-speed rail in development. In the next 18 to 24 months, we will work to environmentally clear the full Phase 1 system between San Francisco and Los Angeles/Anaheim. This transformation is well underway in California. Now is not the time to turn back.”

Other milestones that CAHSRA stated its on track to achieve include:

  • Commence testing of electrified high-speed trains by 2025 and put those trains in service by 2028-29;

  • Environmentally clear all segments of the Phase 1 system between San Francisco and Los Angeles/Anaheim in the next 18-24 months;

  • Complete the “bookend” projects we have committed funding to in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The Authority also recognized that, given the political hostility towards the project from the Trump Administration, it will need to identify and pursue additional sources of funding before it could move ahead with plans to connect the Central Valley to the Bay Area and Southern California.

Membership News and Notices

  • Due to an issue with our printer, sending out new membership/renewal cards and benefits have been delayed. We anticipate clearing our backlog within the next week. As a friendly reminder, you can find your membership number and print temporary membership cards by creating an account on our website. Thanks as always for your patience!

  • 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 (202-408-8362, ext. 3123) instead of contacting your financial institution to dispute the charge or initiate a chargeback. Often by working through your bank instead of Rail Passengers, we get assessed chargeback fees. This diverts our income, which is mostly membership dues, into paying fees instead of working on our mission. We are happy to quickly assist you with your membership.

  • 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).

  • 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!

Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Rich Rosenthal

Location: Silver Spring, MD

Member Since: 1992

Tell us about your volunteer work with Rail Passengers: Since I began my volunteer work at RPA several months ago, I’ve been involved in an interesting and diverse array of activities supporting the DC headquarters team and RPA members. Not only has the experience given me valuable insight into the exciting activities of RPA on behalf of its members and our country’s rail passengers as a whole but I am also privileged to work with a highly motivated, dedicated, and delightful team of professionals. I also have the opportunity to learn about issues directly with many of you when you phone RPA for information or assistance. While much of my work has focused on membership development, the RPA team always makes sure I’m fully exposed to and aware of its numerous legislative policy, customer care, communications, and outreach initiatives. In fact, I am currently serving as Volunteer Coordinator for RPA's upcoming RailNation:DC 2020 this March 29-April 1 (see RPA's website for more details).

If you’re in the DC Area and want to volunteer for the full three day conference, please register here: https://forms.gle/qj5Acom89R5pxMS38

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, kicked off the week responding to the White House budget proposal to gut funding to the long-distance network, including speaking to Railway Age magazine (see Sean Jeans-Gail’s entry below). Jim also resumed work on the upcoming Day On The Hill/Advocacy Summit, as well as developing further policy arguments for the Securities & Exchange Commission around Class I railroads’ compliance with the federal preference clause. Jim is also refining his testimony for an upcoming Federal Railroad Administration session on rail in Texas.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, launched a campaign in response to the White House budget proposal to eliminate funding to Amtrak’s long-distance trains, generating more than 2,500 individual messages to 309 House offices and 96 Senate offices. In addition to providing briefings to Rail Passengers members, Jeans-Gail coordinated the media response and worked with congressional offices to ensure that there is a bipartisan rejection of this dangerous proposal.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, has been on personal leave this week but continues to work with Denver Union Station stakeholders to move ahead with establishing volunteers at the station and scheduling a date of an Open House.

  • Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, has been busy helping with planning for our RailNation DC conference as well as assisting fellow advocates locally on logistics for TransportationCamp NE. Joe also assisted in crafting the social media response to the White House budget request that was released on Monday. You can read more about that here.

  • Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, arrived in sunny California and is planning meet ups with members in the Bay Area as well as continuing conversations with BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) if you are in the region and looking to schedule time with Madi to talk over issues affecting your community please reach out to the office.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent time this week working with our business partners planning the transition of our lockbox services and preparing digital and direct mail outreach.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, spent the week answering member inquiries, highlighting our fantastic volunteers in the Hotline and Newsletter, reminding MD/PA/KY/CO members to vote for their new Council representatives, and reaching out to members in the DC Metro Area who can volunteer with us for RailNation:DC! If you’re available for the entire three day conference, please register here: https://forms.gle/qj5Acom89R5pxMS38. We need about five volunteers.


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 Events | go to railpassengers.org/events for more information

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

Piedmont Trains 74 and 77 Cancelled

Track Work Affects Service

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern will affect Piedmont service on Tuesday, February 18.

Piedmont Service

Trains 74 and 77 which normally operate between Charlotte and Raleigh, are cancelled. No alternate transportation will be provided.

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

Boston South Station Transportation Center Improvements

Effective Immediately

Construction of the South Station Air Rights Project began in January 2020. This project will include the completion of the South Station Transportation Center.

During the construction some entrances and exits may be closed or reconfigured. Trains may arrive and depart on a different track than expected. Passengers are encouraged to check their track before boarding and allow extra time to become familiar with the new construction zones.

For more information on the project please visit www.southstationairrights.com

Pacific Surfliner Weekend Service Changes

Friday, Saturday and Sunday February 21-23 and March 8-11, 2020

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

Friday, February 21 and March 6

Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles. Bus service will be provided south from Los Angeles to San Diego, serving all missed stops.

Saturday and Sunday, February 22-23 and March 7-8

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

  • Northbound Train 1761 will originate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between San Diego and Los Angeles. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.

  • Northbound Trains 579, 593, 595, 763, 777, 785 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided from San Diego to Irvine to connect with the trains listed above. 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.

    • Buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego. Passengers can take the trolley to Downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.

    • 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.

Pacific Crest Thruway Service Schedule Changes

Effective February 18, 2020

Effective February 18, schedule changes will affect Thruway Buses 8309 and 8310.

  • Buses 8309 and 8310 will no longer service Coos Bay, Reedsport and Florence.

  • Buses will now stop at Sisters, OR

  • Schedule times have been adjusted for both buses

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

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.

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.

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 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

The “Amtrak Loves You” Sale Runs February 13-17

Tell Your Family and Friends About This Buy One Fare, Get One Free Promotion


Make reservations from February 13-17. The sale is available on Amtrak.com and through Amtrak reservation agents at 1-800-USA-RAIL (872-7245).

Travel Period and Accommodations

Travel March 9 – August 30, 2020, in Acela Business class and in coach on all reserved services except the Auto Train. The offer is not valid on unreserved service which includes the Capitol Corridor, Hiawatha, Keystone Service (PHL-HAR), Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian (PHL-HAR) and Thruways 7000-8999.

Additional Details

  • Valid for (1) one free companion rail fare with the purchase of (1) one regular (full) adult rail fare.

  • Seating is limited, seats may not be available on all trains, or all times.

  • Valid for travel on most reserved service, no upgrades permitted.

  • The companion and full fare paying passenger must travel together on the same itinerary and have tickets issued together.

  • This offer is not combinable with any other discount offer.

  • In addition to the discount restrictions, this offer is also subject to any restrictions, blackouts and refund rules that apply to the type of fare purchased.

  • A 25% cancellation fee may apply.

  • Once travel has begun, no changes to the itinerary are permitted.

  • Fares, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice.

  • Other restrictions may apply.

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.