March 13, 2020
Rail news for the week ending March 13th
The March Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.
Rail Passengers DC Meeting Confirmed For June
By Jim Mathews / President & CEO
On Monday I told all of you that we were postponing our annual Spring Advocacy Summit and Day on the Hill from March until possibly mid-May in response to the spread of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. I promised we would get more information to you as soon as we possibly could.
As of this afternoon, our partners at the Embassy Suites hotel in Old Town Alexandria have agreed to allow us to move our meeting, intact, from March 29-April 1 to June 21-June 24. They also agreed to honor the discounted rate we negotiated for March.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
We will provide a new direct link to our discounted room block at the Embassy Suites, and you will need to make a new reservation to receive the negotiated discount and be part of our new block. We’ll put that up here in the blogs, and also on the Hotel Reservations page in our Events area. Please check back there often for the new link. The hotel is telling us it will take a few days before that link is available, so please be patient!
If you did not register the first time around and want to join us in June, we’re thrilled to have you! We’ll be re-opening the conference registration link soon, along with the new hotel link.
WHAT ABOUT OUR DAY ON THE HILL ACTIVITIES?
As our VP for Policy Sean Jeans-Gail told all of you in an email Wednesday, we will move forward with the March 31st Passenger Rail Day on the Hill but we will make it more of a “Virtual” Day on the Hill. If you have already scheduled meetings with your members of Congress or their staffs, we’ll be asking you to change those meetings to scheduled phone calls or visits to your local district offices…or both!
WHY NOT JUST WAIT ON EVERYTHING UNTIL JUNE?
The short answer is that even with the coronavirus crisis, the legislative gears are still turning on several important pieces of legislation. We’re doing everything we can, with the current constraints, to keep your seat at the table and make sure our voices are still heard at an exceptionally important time for passenger rail.
Turning your scheduled in-person meetings into scheduled phone calls or visits to your local district office is a great compromise, and one the congressional staffs have already told us they would very much welcome.
Between now and the end of June, members of Congress and their staffs will be taking up:
- The fiscal 2021 spending bills that appropriate money. That means spending levels for Amtrak, passenger rail grant programs, and transit. We’ve been sharing our ideas with key staff members and leaders, and we’ve got great momentum going.
- The five-year FAST Act reauthorization. We’ve had a lot of positive reception for our policy recommendations and funding structures for the rail title of the FAST Act-replacement, which is currently being drafted in the House. We can’t go silent now.
- Infrastructure and Stimulus. With a flagging economy, leaders in both the Senate and the House are discussing using an infrastructure bill to revitalize our economy. We need to make sure rail is part of the conversation.
When June is over, they’re likely to shut the doors, turn off the lights and go home to campaign. So our window is between now and the end of June.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
Why? Because all of us are concerned for the health, safety and well-being of our members -- a large share of whom fall into the risk groups identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our mission must go on, and we can’t afford to sit it out and wait. But we also have to adapt and keep up the fight in ways that keep all of you safe and healthy. Re-working our in-person March meetings into a combination of electronic briefings and conference calls keeps the pressure on where we need it. June will be our way of sealing the deal.
We need all of you to rally around and help make this work. Congress needs to know we're still here and still fighting!
Please, everyone, be safe and take good care.
Amtrak and Airlines See Sharp Dropoff in Ridership, Revenue
While the news has been dominated by headlines concerning the financial woes of airlines and airports, a report this week by Business Insider this week showed that Amtrak hasn’t escaped from the sudden drop in demand for travel across the U.S. The railroad anticipates losing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, forcing the company to reduce train frequencies and cut costs.
In an all-company memo obtained by Business Insider, Amtrak revealed that its future bookings plunged 50% compared to this time last year, with cancellations for future travel spiking more than 300%.
"You should expect significant reductions in train service across portions of our network in response to the sharp drop in ridership," Stephen Gardner, senior executive vice president and chief operating and commercial officer, wrote in the memo. "In the meantime, we must conserve our resources, putting them to use as efficiently as possible and in ways that continue to drive safety and advance our future, so that when things get back to normal, we are ready to grow and prosper."
Amtrak has targeted scaling back frequencies on the NEC. Rail Passengers will keep you updated as more scheduling changes are announced.
Congress Considers Government Bailout for Travel Industry
Congress has responded to the financial woes of the travel industry by promising to look at a bailout for airlines. Rail Passengers Association is working with Congress to ensure that Amtrak is part of any aid package.
“There may be specific industries that are highly impacted by travel that have issues with lending,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “I would assume the airlines would be on the top of the list.”
Rail Passengers is working with appropriators to let them know that Amtrak has also seen a sharp drop in ridership and revenue, and that they will need help to continue essential services and investment programs.
“Amtrak offers critical mobility to more than 500 communities across the U.S. Hundreds of those towns are rural and mid-sized, with little access to alternative forms of intercity transportation,” said Jim Mathews, President & CEO of Rail Passengers. “Congress must work to preserve Amtrak’s ability to offer sustainable, quality service to these Americans—many of whom have already been left behind during their lifetimes by airlines abandoning their regions.”
Backfilling lost revenue will be critical to ensuring that progress continues on equipment procurement identified in Amtrak’s FY2021 legislative request to Congress. Amtrak had budgeted $1.67 billion for new Amfleet 1s and diesel locomotives for the National Network and the NEC over the next five years, and this sharp drop in ticket revenue would endanger that re-fleeting program.
Save The Date: Virtual Day on the Hill
As you may have read earlier this week, the emergence of new coronavirus cases across the nation led us to delay—not cancel—the Rail Passengers Association’s spring meeting until mid-June.
However, the legislative gears are still rapidly turning in Washington, D.C., and we’re still working everyday for a bigger and better passenger rail system. With that in mind, we will be going ahead with our Passenger Rail Day on the Hill on March 31st — obviously it will need to be more of a “Virtual” Day on the Hill.
We’re counting on you to join us on March 31st to call your members of congress—or even meet with staffers at your local district offices—to ask for more investment in passenger trains. We’ll provide you with specific request for:
Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations: House and Senate appropriators are currently considering spending levels for Amtrak, passenger rail grant programs, and transit. It’s important that they hear from passengers about the pressing needs of Amtrak and transit systems.
Surface Transportation Reauthorization Blueprint: Congress is drafting a bill that will control passenger rail funding and policy over the next five years, and shape the passenger rail network for decades.
Infrastructure/Stimulus Bill: with a flagging economy, leaders in both the Senate and the House are discussing using an infrastructure bill to revitalize our economy, and we need to make sure rail is part of the conversation. This will be even more important with news coming that travelers across the country are canceling their travel plans, causing a sharp drop in Amtrak and airline revenues.
We’re still working on the logistics of a legislative briefing and a Q&A, but we will make sure everyone will have all the resources they need to confidently advocate for better trains in America. Please stay tuned as we unroll our plan for an effective Virtual Day on the Hill over the next three weeks.
Texas Central Operating Rules Published For Comment, Time To Show Your Support
The Federal Railroad Administration expects to hold three public hearings in Texas at the end of this month to give the public a chance to weigh in on FRA’s proposed Rule of Particular Applicability (or RPA) that would govern Texas Central Railway’s high-speed service between Houston and Dallas.
The TCR-specific safety rules have been in the works at the FRA since 2016, first examined and later refined by the FRA Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s Passenger Rail Working Group, of which Rail Passengers CEO Jim Mathews is a member. The RSAC process includes industry, operators and other experts and is designed to ensure that safety-critical issues are surfaced early in the development of new rules and regulations.
Although FRA in September approved Texas Central’s petition to issue an RPA, the full text of the proposed RPA was posted this week for 60 days of public comment..
Because the system will be largely self-contained, operating equipment never operated in the U.S. before, and run in a full-systems approach unlike traditional U.S. railroading, new rules had to be envisioned to cover things that American railroads running at 79 mph never encounter.
Rail Passengers Association Chairman Peter LeCody, who is also President of Texas Rail Advocates, urged Texans to take part in the comment process, either by filing comments at regulations.gov, or attending one of the three Texas hearings.
“There are detractors of this project that would like to see it derailed but it’s way too important for our Texas economy to say no,” LeCody said. “This will be the largest transportation infrastructure project in the state in decades and will show how Texas can be a leader in this country in high speed rail built and run through private enterprise.”
Rail Passengers has supported the Texas project from the very beginning and expects to testify in Texas about the safety benefits of the system’s design.
Of the three public hearings scheduled, one is in North Texas, a second is in the Houston region and a third is in rural Navasota:
Dallas area – March 31, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m at Waxahachie Civic Center, 2000 Civic Center Lane, Waxahachie, Texas 75165
Navasota – April 1, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Grimes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, 5220 FM 3455, Navasota, Texas 77868
Houston area – April 2, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Waller High School Auditorium, 20950 Field Store Road, Waller, Texas 77484
USDOT Announces $248.5M in Rail Infrastructure Grants
Yesturday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the recipients of $248.5 million in grant funds under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program. The grants will fund 32 projects in 27 states, and will be administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
The grant projects include:
Up to $17.49M for Windsor Locks Station improvements in Connecticut
$225K to support a study of extending the Southwest Chief to Colorado Springs
Up to $16.86M for a new platform and pedestrian bridge in Wells, ME
Up to $26.6M for a Muskego Yard Bypass in Wisconsin
To read the full press release, click here
To see the entire list of projects, click here
Cap Metro Envisions Future of Transit in Austin
The staff at Capital Metro is recommending a multibillion-dollar expansion of public transportation in Austin - including an expansion of the light rail system, a new rail line to the airport, an underground downtown subway, and converting their bus fleet to zero emission electric vehicles. While details and cost projections are still being worked on and discussed - David Couch, Cap Metro’s Project Connect program manager, did not want to give exact figures but stated that the range could be somewhere between $4.7 and $9.8 billion.
Cap Metro President Randy Clarke called these plans a “bold vision” and that it represents the “planning for the future of our growing region”.
A local funding source is required to qualify for federal money from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), so the Austin City Council will likely move this to either a bond or tax rate election in November. Cap Metro estimates that the FTA could pay for 40% of the total cost.
Durham-Wake Commuter Rail Study Approved
A commuter rail project that would connect Durham and Johnson counties in North Carolina got a little closer to reality this week as the Durham County Commissioners voted to approve spending $2.2 million to study the rail corridor. The study’s sponsor, GoTriangle, will also be asking Wake County for $6M and NC Railroad Company (NCRR) for $250K to help cover the study costs. Early estimates for construction of the 34-mile corridor put the project in the $1.4 to $1.8 billion range. GoTriangle also projects that 7,500 to 10,000 passengers would use the service via 20 daily round trips.
The study sponsors are being very deliberate in their approach this time around after they had to abandon plans for a 18-mile light rail line last year that would have connected Durham and Chapel Hill due to issues with the needed right-of-way. Durham County Commissioner and GoTriangle board member Ellen Reckhow said that they will be closer to a “go or no go decision” because they are gathering an extensive amount of information to help guide their choice.
A Few Thoughts About Safety, Health, Travel And Coronavirus
By Jim Mathews / President & CEO
Now that we know of at least one Amtrak traveler who was infected with the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, respiratory infection, it might be a good time to remind everyone about common sense while traveling.
If you’re feeling unwell and you’re thinking about traveling -- not just getting on a train, but an airplane, a bus, a trolley car or any other mode we all share with one another -- how about thinking again? As it happens, the young woman from St. Louis who boarded an Amtrak train in Chicago only started to feel sick afterwards, so this is not to blame her. In fact, she and her family are being bullied now, and that’s shameful behavior. But even today as the illness spreads rapidly across the globe there are plenty of people who still seem to think it’s only a problem for other people...or it’s just a made-up problem altogether. This is an actual pandemic now, according to the World Health Organization, and the identification of new cases is following an exponential growth curve.
Amtrak was taking it seriously even before passengers started cancelling bookings, and now with cancellations 300% ahead of last year’s pace the railroad faces a genuine crisis. Amtrak is doing extra deep-cleaning on its trains and in its stations, and is making sure trains have extra hygiene supplies available to passengers and crews alike.
Last week in the Hotline we offered some tips for staying safe while traveling, and based on emails I’m getting from members and others it looks like folks would appreciate it if we repeated it again:
Don't touch your phone while you're taking public transportation.
Carry hand sanitizer and use it the moment you leave the bus, train, or subway.
Don't touch your face.
If someone is coughing or sneezing, try to move away from them.
Wash your hands the moment you have access to soap and water.
Don't wear a face mask unless you're sick.
Limit contact with train and bus poles.
If it's possible, try to leave work a bit earlier or later to avoid packed public transit during rush hour.
Don't eat or drink while on public transit.
Sanitize your bag and keep it off of the floor and other surfaces.
Avoid directly touching the turnstiles.
We at Rail Passengers are very much affected by the same things that affect the rest of the country. Whether it’s disease or economic recession, our members and our staff are all dealing with the same issues, and when it comes to a novel pneumonia that has killed thousands in just a few short months, we have a responsibility to you to pay close attention.
Our members are heavily over-represented among the high-risk groups for the COVID-19 infection -- older folks with chronic illness, heart troubles or diabetes -- and last weekend confirmed COVID cases showed up in the D.C. area. That’s why I decided last Sunday to postpone our annual Spring Advocacy Summit and Day on the Hill, transforming our efforts into a one-two punch: a day of electronic messages and scheduled conference calls with many dozens of Congressional offices on March 31, followed by one last in-person push before the summer recess from June 21 through June 24.
Our mission must go on, and we can’t afford to sit it out and wait. But we also have to adapt and keep up the fight in ways that keep all of you safe and healthy. Re-working our in-person March meetings into a combination of electronic briefings and conference calls keeps the pressure on where we need it. June will be our way of sealing the deal in person, and I hope everyone will be able to join us then...safely.
We need all of you to rally around and help make this work. Congress needs to know we're still here and still fighting! Take an ACTIVE part in our Virtual Day on the Hill on March 31st. And let’s all get ready to come to Washington closer to the summer to put an exclamation point on our efforts!
Changing Rail Travel Due To Coronavirus Worries? Amtrak Won’t Charge Change Fees
Amtrak posted a notice this week that it won’t charge change fees for passengers who reschedule travel out of concerns over coronavirus.
While airlines were goaded into waiving their fees -- incurred because in many cases airlines were cancelling or changing flights -- Amtrak for its part hasn’t changed its schedules.
Even so, Amtrak says that for any reservation made before April 30, they’ll waive the change fees, although if your new booking costs more you’ll still have to pay the difference in the fares.
“We will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation closely and adjust this policy as necessary,” Amtrak said.
Membership News and Notices
Rail Passengers has developed a new Membership Committee (chaired by Board Member and Utah Council Member Mike Christensen) and we need members like you! If you are interested in diversifying our membership, spreading the word about the work we do, and can spend a few hours a month working with us to do so, join our Membership Committee! Contact Membership Manager Kim Williams at [email protected] if you’re interested. You must be a current member in good standing. We are particularly interested in members who primarily ride commuter or intercity rail, live outside the Northeast Corridor, or are active on a variety of social media platforms
If you renew your membership by mail, please be sure to send a membership renewal form with your payment! We will update your membership status only if you return a form to RENEW your membership. Forms asking you to DONATE are processed as general donations, not membership dues. (Donations are 100% tax-deductible and membership dues are tax-deductible minus any AGR points you receive at 2.5 cents each).
#ICYMI - In Case You Missed It: This Week’s Social Media Highlights
This week we covered why the United States is so terrible at building public transit, elected officials and advocates hoping to expand MARC service through DC and into Virginia, Operation Lifesaver, and of course - the current COVID-10 outbreak and its effect on transportation.
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.
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, led the D.C. professional staff through an especially busy week as we worked with our hotel partners to reschedule our Spring Advocacy Summit while also responding to the hour-by-hour economic and pandemic developments that swept through American railroading. In particular, we are working to keep our momentum going in Congress and taking a role in more than a dozen passenger-rail friendly bills, plus working to make sure that Amtrak -- reeling from coronavirus cancellations -- is included in any transportation bailout.
Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, has been working with Rail Passengers leadership and Council Members to convert our annual Rail Passengers Day on the Hill into a “virtual” advocacy day. With travel and meetings severely curtailed, Jeans-Gail is preparing a calendar of activities to make sure our legislative requests are still delivered to Congress in a timely fashion (you can take part at www.RailPassengers.org/RailNation2020!). He also continues to work with Congressional offices to develop pro-rail legislation, including Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-MA) Warren Cowles Grade Crossing Safety Act, which establishes a new grant program within CRISI to upgrade highway-rail grade crossing for commuter railroads and operators in high-ridership corridors, providing an additional $250 million per year.
Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, spent the week reevaluating the canceled training of Lawrence volunteers. Carolyn has been working with the City of Lawrence and Amtrak managers to develop a web-based training session to allow vetted volunteers to be trained and ready once the need occurs.
Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, assisted the DC staff this week in keeping our members and fellow advocates informed on the schedule changes taking place with various meetings due to the current outbreak. Joe is also working with Sean & Madi on details for the upcoming “Virtual” Day on the Hill.
Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, is working with Sean and Joe on the upcoming Virtual Day on the Hill as well as speaking to members from around the country while planning future advocacy efforts.
Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week working on future fundraising campaigns, fielding member telephone calls, talking with partners, assisting with RailNation:DC, processing donations, and Association administrative activities.
Kim Williams, Membership Manager, spent the week responding to member inquiries, assisting with RailNation:DC 2020, maintaining our member database, and processing dues payments.
Partnership with Signature Federal Credit Union
We are excited to announce our recent partnership with Signature Federal Credit Union. Rail Passengers members now have access to a full service, nationwide federal credit union with extensive product and service offerings. Signature FCU also becomes the exclusive provider of the Rail Passengers Association-branded Visa credit card with our logo, which supports our work by giving back to our organization, and gives you 1 point for every $1 you spend to redeem for travel and merchandise. The card has no annual fee, no balance transfer fees, no foreign transaction fees, and has a very low interest rate.
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!
go to railpassengers.org/events for more events and information
Due to the current situation with the COVID-19 outbreak, many meetings around the country are being postponed and rescheduled for later dates. Please check our events page for updates and 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
Keystone Service Schedule Changes
Effective March 13 through 30, 2020
Effective Friday, March 13, In coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Keystone Service trains will not stop at the Ardmore station.
Trains will be operating on a reduced schedule at all other locations along the route. Please visit
Amtrak.com or Amtrak’s mobile app for the most up to date schedules.
On the timetable listed on Amtrak.com the schedules will be noted with an “S” next to the train number.
City of New Orleans Train 59
Saluki Train 390
Illini Trains 392 and 393 Track Work Affects Service
March 11, 12 and 20, 2020
Due to track work being performed by Canadian National Railway, City of New Orleans, Saluki and Illini schedules will be adjusted as shown below.
Wednesday and Thursday, March 11 and 12:
Train 390 will depart Carbondale at 8:00 am, 30 minutes later than normal and will operate on this later schedule to Chicago, arriving at 1:55 pm.
Friday, March 20:
Trains 390 and 393 are cancelled. Alternate transportation will be provided to all station stops at Chicago, Homewood, Kankakee, Gilman, Rantoul, Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, Du Quoin and Carbondale.
Train 392 will depart Carbondale at 7:30 pm, 3 hours and 15 minutes later than normal and will operate on this schedule to Chicago, arriving at 1:25 am.
Train 59 is cancelled. Train 1059 will depart Chicago at 1:30 am on March 21, 5 hours and 25 minutes later than Train 59’s normal schedule and will operate on this schedule to New Orleans.
California Bus-Only Service Offered Between Bakersfield-Santa Barbara
Effective March 9, 2020
Effective March 9, Amtrak will start selling bus-only tickets for select cities between Bakersfield and Santa Barbara.
Recently, the California Legislature enacted changes to an earlier state law which will permit local bus-only travel to be purchased in some areas. More local bus-only sales are expected to be phased in over time.
Grover Beach Thruway Stop Moves to a New Location
Effective Mar. 6, 2020
Effective Mar. 6, Amtrak Thruway buses will stop at the Grover Beach station south parking lot.
The new stop is on the west side of the tracks on the same side as the train platform. The entrance to the parking lot is located on California Highway 1. New address below:
Grover Beach Amtrak Train Station
180 West Grand Avenue
Grover Beach, CA 93433-1968
Buses will serve the present stop on Grand Avenue through Mar. 5.
Lake Shore Limited Trains 448 and 449 Track Work Affects Service
Fri., Sat. and Sun. March 13 - May 17, 2020
Track work being performed by MBTA will affect Trains 448 and 449 between Albany and Boston, as follows:
Train 448 Albany – Boston Service, Friday-Saturday: Mar. 20-21, 27-28; April 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25; May 1-2, 8-9, 15-16.
Customers who are traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston (South Station) will get off the train at Albany on the dates above. At Albany, bus service will be provided to and from all stations listed above. No alternate transportation will be provided for the missed stop of Framingham. Passengers traveling to Back Bay will be bussed to Boston and then may take an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train between Boston and Back Bay.
Train 449 Boston – Albany Service, Saturday-Sunday: Mar. 21-22, 28-29; Apr. 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26; May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17.
Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany on the dates above.
Passengers boarding at Boston (South Station), Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield will be provided bus service to Albany. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops at Back Bay and Framingham. Passengers traveling from Back Bay will have the option of boarding at Boston or traveling on alternate dates.
Boston (South Station) and Worcester
Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.
Passengers at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the Bus Terminal.
Please Note: There will be no Business Class or sleeping car during this time
Interline Thruway Service Between Portland, OR and Astoria
Effective Feb. 24, 2020
Effective Feb. 24, Amtrak will start selling Interline Thruway Service between Portland, OR and Astoria.
Buses 8912, 8913, 8916, 8917, 8920 and 8921 will offer service between Portland and Astoria via US-30, with intermediate stops at Scappoose, St Helen, Rainier, Clatskanie, Westport, Knappa and Svenson.
San Diego Old Town Station Boarding Track Changes
Effective February 24, 2020
Beginning February 24, Pacific Surfliner trains will depart and arrive on different tracks at the · Northbound trains will continue to depart from track 4.
Please allow extra time for boarding and detraining while getting familiar with the different route to parking and connecting services. The pedestrian underpass can be used if needed.San Diego Old Town station.
Southbound trains will now arrive on track 3. Passengers can be picked up from Old Town Station on the street side closest to track 3.
Northbound trains will continue to depart from track 4.
Keystone Service Schedule Changes
Effective Mar. 7 through Nov. 15, 2020
Due to the Middletown Station Construction Project, Keystone Service schedules will be affected between Mar. 7 and Nov. 15.
Train 620 will operate 5 minutes later from Harrisburg to Elizabethtown, will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate 6 minutes later from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 622 will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate 1 minute later from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 646 will operate 1 minute earlier from Harrisburg to Elizabethtown, will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate on the current schedule from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 652 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Philadelphia
Train 654 will operate 10 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.
Train 605 will operate 10 minutes later from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
Train 607 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
Train 645 will operate 10 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.
Train 669 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg on weekends.
Piedmont Trains 74 and 77 Cancelled
Travel Tip of the Week
In case you missed it, here is Amtrak’s Wednesday, March 12 statement regarding the Coronavirus.
Amtrak Takes Active Measures to Maintain Safe Environment
March 12, 2020
Amtrak Coronavirus Update
AMTRAK TAKES ACTIVE MEASURES TO MAINTAIN SAFE ENVIRONMENT
The safety of Amtrak’s customers and employees is our top priority. We continue to monitor the coronavirus situation closely and we are taking action based on guidance from public health experts; that includes restoring service to trains and routes once demand returns. In order to maintain a safe environment and address customer concerns and potential business impact, we are taking the following measures:
Before You Travel
If you are planning your Amtrak trip:
Travel with confidence: As a valued customer, we are waiving change fees on all existing or new reservations made before April 30, 2020. Simply log in to your account or go to Modify Trip on Amtrak.com, or find your reservation from your account on the home screen in the Amtrak app. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary. If you want to cancel your reservation, call 1-800-USA-RAIL.
Plan ahead: As Amtrak can take you to parts of Canada, if you cross the border, the US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) may ask about previous travel as well as require a medical screening. Visit the CPB website for more information.
Take care of yourself and keep others safe: If you are feeling ill, please stay home until feeling better.
Maintaining a Safe Environment
To reduce risk, we are:
Enhancing cleaning protocols: We have increased the frequency of cleaning services on our trains and at our stations to multiple times a day, and in some cases, on an hourly basis. We have increased the use of disinfectants to wipe down handrails, doorknobs, handles and surfaces.
Increasing disinfectant supplies: We have increased the quantity of sanitizers and disinfectant wipes available for customers and employees throughout our trains and stations.
Reinforcing good hygiene practices: We are regularly sharing best practices with employees and customers on ways to protect against communicable diseases.
While Amtrak continues to operate 300 daily trains, including more than 100 on the Northeast Corridor, we have temporarily suspended the following services due to reduced demand:
Three trains that operate between New York and Washington (Trains 2401, 2402, 2403). All three of these trains have alternate services available 30 minutes before and after their scheduled departure.
In coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, starting Friday, March 13 Keystone Service will operate on a reduced schedule, with no service to the Ardmore Station. Eighteen daily Keystone trains will still operate during the week (9 in each direction), as will the typical service of two daily Pennsylvanian trains. All trains will remain in service on the weekend. This schedule reflects the “S” schedule or special schedule that Keystone Service has set for severe weather or other service disruptions. The complete modified schedule can be found on Amtrak.com.
What You Can Do
To protect against all communicable diseases:
Wash your hands: Wash hands frequently with soap and water – and for 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
Cover your mouth: When sneezing or coughing, use tissues and promptly dispose of them or cover your mouth with your sleeve or elbow.
We will continue to monitor and make changes to our procedures, policies and operations as necessary. We will continually update this page with any changes. For more information about the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
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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.
"The National Association of Railroad Passengers has done yeoman work over the years and in fact if it weren’t for NARP, I'd be surprised if Amtrak were still in possession of as a large a network as they have. So they've done good work, they're very good on the factual case."
Robert Gallamore, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University and former Federal Railroad Administration official, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University
November 17, 2005, on The Leonard Lopate Show (with guest host Chris Bannon), WNYC New York.