Happening Now

Hotline #1,162

April 10, 2020

Rail news for the week ending April 10th

The April Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.

Click here to read the digital version.

Rail Passengers’ Members Deliver During Day on the Hill

Amtrak Extends “Thanks” for Your Work on Behalf of Amtrak Passengers

Last week Rail Passengers asked our volunteer leaders and members to speak with their elected officials about the importance of passenger trains to our towns and our economy. We asked them to come to the aid of Amtrak and transit agencies, who are confronting an unprecedented crisis caused by the coronavirus’ impact on the transportation sector. And we asked them to recruit their members of Congress to help us take concrete steps to improve our nation’s passenger rail network and the onboard experience of everyday passengers.

Thanks to the hard work of our Council of Representatives, this association delivered our message to 144 House offices and 59 Senate offices. That is an impressive feat given the many novel challenges our Council Members faced, and the chaos and short-staffing affecting most Congressional offices as they struggled to pass legislation in a global pandemic. We thanked Congress for the aid delivered to railroads and transit agencies in the Phase 3 coronavirus package; asked for meaningful funding for new equipment, more frequencies and added service; and explained how an infrastructure bill could put millions of Americans back to work building the passenger rail network our country deserves.

Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson reached out to Rail Passengers to thank our members and staff for their outreach on behalf of Amtrak passengers during this critical period.

“On behalf of everyone at Amtrak, thank you for letting Congress know of your support for emergency funding for passenger rail in the recently enacted COVID-19 Phase 3 relief bill, also known as the CARES Act,” wrote Anderson. “Congress’s aid to Amtrak reflects the many voices of support for passenger rail that Congress heard while drafting this bill. With your backing, Congress directed over $1 billion for Amtrak and our state partners to mitigate the impacts of the current crisis on our employees and trains. I am proud of the safe, sustainable transportation we provide – and thanks to your support and this emergency funding, we will be able to continue to play this important role.”

Members of Congress asked for our help, in return. They asked our members and staff which rail projects we believe are the top priorities for funding, and our ideas for how to fund these programs. They wanted to know what we'd like to see in the upcoming passenger rail reauthorization, and how we can improve the passenger experience onboard Amtrak trains. Thanks to your support, we were able to serve as a resource for Congressional offices who remain committed to rebuilding America's rail network in these troubled times.

Our Council of Representatives was joined by many of our members who delivered that same message to their senators and representatives. If you haven’t had a chance, it’s not too late to join our campaign! Click here and we’ll provide you with all the facts and arguments you need to quickly and easily write your members of Congress.

As Congress Debates Next Phase of Coronavirus Response, Hope for Phase 4 Infrastructure Dims

As Democrats and Republicans debated this week over the scope of the next phase of the coronavirus response, plans to include infrastructure in the Phase 4 bill appear to have fallen by the wayside -- for now, at least.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put forth a plan for $250 billion in additional funding for a federal small business loan program. Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing for a $500 billion bill -- one that would direct $250 billion towards small businesses, but also provide $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local governments, which are expected to see their budgets demolished in the coming weeks by a loss in revenues from sales and payroll taxes.

This disagreement has pushed talks of using infrastructure to get Americans back to work to the sidelines. Last week, Democrats and President Trump came together in a rare moment of bipartisanship to call for a massive boost in funding during the next phase of the coronavirus response. Now, it appears that infrastructure will slide to a Phase 5 response, with come political commentators predicting that it will arrive in mid-summer. With another 6.6 million Americans claiming unemployment this week—bringing the three-week total to 16.8 million newly unemployed—there will certainly be the need for an investment program that offers people opportunities to work.

Rail Passengers is preparing a list of passenger rail and transit programs that could quickly begin construction at RailPassengers.org/Covid19. If you know of a project in your area that is included in your state’s rail plan, or is in the federal permitting process, please let us know by emailing Joe Aiello at jaiello[at]narprail.org (subject: infrastructure bill).

Senators did endorse a call for an additional $750 million to help transit agencies protect their workers from exposure to the virus by expanding access to protective equipment. [To read more about the toll of the coronavirus on transit and railroad workers, read “An Essential Truth About Transportation Workers” below]

“We believe FTA should explicitly update its guidance and proactively provide support to help transit agencies acquire PPE and provide it to their workers,” wrote a group of 20 senators in a letter sent to Acting FTA Administrator K. Jane Williams.

Amtrak Execs Assessing The Shape Of Ridership Recovery Even As Timing Remains Uncertain

Even though right now Amtrak is doing its best to maintain essential transportation service while ridership is down some 95%, senior leaders are already looking ahead to understand how to stand the National Network back up once the coronavirus crisis is behind us, top executives told employees in a “Town Hall” conference call.

“Will it be a six-month return to something that looks normal or a one-year or will we potentially have a real jump in ridership over a very short period of time versus a more gradual return?” incoming CEO Bill Flynn said during the session. “We’re planning out for several scenarios.”

Flynn, Chief Commercial Officer Stephen Gardner and other senior executives are poring over market intelligence and ridership data to understand what the shape of a recovery might look like and so far information suggests that the recovery pattern may be uneven. Specific trains or specific regions may roar back quickly while others may take more time. Therefore managers “have developed several different plans that we can implement or take advantage of and serve the demand in the different scenarios as it comes, potentially comes, towards us,” Flynn said.

Current CEO Richard Anderson noted that until the coronavirus outbreak things were looking very good for Amtrak.

“Now we were really doing well in the early part of this year through February,” Anderson told employees. “You were doing a fantastic job running the railroad and our revenues and ridership and customer service scores were all setting new records every month. So, we have a strong base, but that base is not going to come back immediately and it’s going to be a slower ramp because the economy’s going to be in a recession.”

Gardner also noted that “we need to ... pay attention to this and be nimble because there might be areas where there is strong demand quickly and we’ll be looking to ramp that up. And of course we’ll be working with our State partners who have a big role in deciding how much risk we have in the routes that they help support. So we’re looking at different options critical to bringing back service.”

One potential obstacle to bringing service back up quickly will be the effect of the time off on employee proficiency and safety.

Amtrak wants to be sure that “everyone who’s ready to come back to work” has “the right qualifications and are prepared and trained again,” Gardner said, “especially if you’ve not been working in your craft or class for several weeks or months depending on when this should happen.”

Amtrak’s top managers – including incoming CEO Flynn – also reiterated their commitment to avoiding furloughs or other job cuts but noted that because nobody knows when a ridership recovery might be possible Amtrak is already positioning itself to seek additional congressional help to keep staff intact. Rail Passengers’ DC staff has already been working with Amtrak and key congressional offices along those lines.

To drive home the point, Flynn shared with the Town Hall attendees a personal story stemming from a recession in 1961.

“I was seven years old and my Dad was a locomotive fireman back on the New Haven,” Flynn said. “And, you know, when you’re that young...your memories are episodic. But one memory I do have is he got he was furloughed... for I don’t know five or six months and I remember one of the jobs he had while he was furloughed, the Post Office used to hire people during the Christmas rush to help deliver the big demand, the big volume of Christmas cards and stuff. And it stuck with me and I do remember that period of time. And so, when ... I say our goal is to have no involuntary furloughs, I mean it and I understand how personal it is.”

But beyond maintaining staff, current CEO Richard Anderson noted, it’s premature to talk about restoring the pay and benefits cuts absorbed by management and executive staff.

“We don’t have a clear view to the endgame here,” Anderson noted. “And as we’ve said our goal is to avoid involuntary furloughs. But we don’t know when this will be over and if anything, the information that we have now is that...it’s worsening.” Without a clear picture of when the situation might ease, “it’s difficult to map out what your plan will be. We may be seeking additional assistance in the next round of congressional action to ensure that we can keep everyone employed at a time when we don’t have any revenue coming in.”

The CARES Act stimulus bill provided a little more than $1 billion to Amtrak to replace what was forecast as the potential coronavirus-related loss.

Flynn also acknowledged that the current crisis has underscored how essential Amtrak is to the nation’s mobility and resilience.

“We’re a critical mode of transportation for essential employees and that includes our first responders, medical personnel and other people who in their various roles are serving at this time of need,” Flynn told staff. “If you think about our daily ridership, we’re down at about 4,000 folks riding our entire system down from, you know, 32 or so thousand per day. And I’ll assume, and I think it’s fair to assume, that most of them if not all of them are ... traveling on our services because they have to. It’s not discretionary travel.”

Amtrak also continues to support its State services and commuter partners.

Opponents Use Spurious Funding And Virus Claims To Press Chao To Suspend FRA High-Speed Rulemaking For Texas Central

In what can only be described as a “Hail Mary Pass,” a group of Texas lawmakers led by state representative Ben Leman (R) this week urged Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to suspend the federal Rule of Particular Applicability rulemaking underway right now to clear Texas Central’s high-speed rail project, citing the coronavirus outbreak and implying that the wholly private-funded venture is somehow jeopardizing federal dollars.

“It’s intellectually dishonest to make the claims that these legislators are making,” said Rail Passengers President and CEO Jim Mathews. “This is a group of dyed-in-the-wool opponents who are dissatisfied with the normal public-participation process for assessing large projects and have now turned to disinformation and specious claims to try to get their way. Open discussion of pros and cons usually helps mitigate downsides while enhancing gains, and legitimate policy disagreements should be welcomed. But this goes well beyond disagreement. Projects should rise and fall on their merits, and the merits of the Texas Central project are considerable.”

The dozen or so rural Texas legislators have failed to stop the project in three straight Texas legislative sessions, with dozens of bills all going down to defeat. Now, taking advantage of the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, these lawmakers – backed by a well-funded group called Texans Against High-Speed Rail – is trying to stop the rulemaking process for Texas Central’s Rule of Particular Applicability, or RPA, by going straight to Secretary Chao.

Before the coronavirus crisis hit hard, the Federal Railroad Administration had planned three public hearings in Texas for the end of March to give the public the chance to weigh in on the Rule. Rail Passengers CEO Mathews expected to testify. Since then, in the grip of the sharp fall in world financial markets Texas Central laid off 28 staff while it waits out the effect of the downturn on project partners in Italy, Spain and Japan. It’s a temporary layoff and Texas Central has said as much.

But Leman cited the layoff as evidence that Texas Central no longer has the staff nor the financing it needs to review public comments on the new proposed Rule or to proceed with the project. “It is clearly time to bring all activity being conducted by the federal government regarding this project to a close,” Leman and his co-signers wrote. “It is simply a waste of taxpayer dollars and resources to continue further in dealings with TCRR that could otherwise be utilized combating the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Rule now under consideration has been in the works since 2016, developed by an FRA working group and later examined and refined by the FRA Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s Passenger Rail Working Group, of which CEO Mathews is a member. It’s designed to clear the way for the high-speed train’s unique equipment and operating model to run in the U.S. where current standards are only written for conventional systems operating on shared right-of-way with freight railroads. Although FRA in September approved Texas Central’s petition to issue an RPA, the full text of the proposed RPA was posted last month for 60 days of public comment.

Rail Passengers continues to support the Texas project vigorously. It’s set to bring billions of dollars of annual economic benefit to the state, and thanks to a through-ticketing arrangement about two thirds of Amtrak's entire national system would be reachable by a Texas Central passenger through a single fare, making this a project with truly national implications.

"The through-ticketing arrangement and connection would give a northbound traveler from Houston access to 27% of Amtrak's entire national system in a single fare purchase,” said Mathews. “A southbound traveler from Dallas would be able to reach 40% of Amtrak's entire national system on a single-fare ticket.”

The Amtrak-Texas Central agreement meaningfully and powerfully affects the entire U.S. interstate rail network by linking Houston and Dallas passengers to some 13,958 Amtrak route miles and creating the opportunity for any one of 12,256 individual potential journeys combining TCR and Amtrak travel on a single ticket.

An ‘Essential’ Truth About Transportation Workers

By Joe Aiello / Field Coordinator

The coronavirus outbreak is showing a lot of the general public something that members of this Association have always known: passenger rail and public transit continue to be essential for Americans and will play a major role in our road to post-pandemic recovery.

Transit and transportation workers have proven to be “essential” workers during the crisis, just like first responders, nurses, doctors and, yes, food-service and warehouse workers. And yet, just like first responders, hospital staff and the rest, transit workers are scrambling for access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to stay safe while keeping us moving.

In a post last week, Transit Center stated that transit workers should be listed as emergency responders due to the fact that they need to continue to show up to work and help transport nurses, doctors, and other essential employees, but are not considered a priority when it comes to personal protection equipment.

That is leaving too many members of an industry that we all care dearly about wide open to illness.

Amtrak, for its part, is doing its best to distribute masks, gloves, sanitizer and other vital protective equipment to on-board service personnel, have stepped up sanitation efforts on coaches and Sleepers, sold tickets and spaces in ways to ensure that passengers are physically separated and taken many other steps. Even with all that, however, Amtrak had to recently cut service on the California Zephyr due to a worker on the route testing positive and needing to quarantine the rest of the crew. The reduction in system ridership plus the lack of sufficient staff forced their hand.

For another example of just how hard transit workers around the country are being hit by this horrible virus, just look at New York City. Earlier this week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) confirmed that more than 7% of their entire workforce (around 6,500 employees out of 74,000) have either needed to self-quarantine at home or have tested positive for COVID-19. The agency also announced that 33 of their workers have died due to the virus. The MTA has been doing everything they can to keep their workers safe, including distributing almost a quarter of a million N95 masks and ramping up disinfecting efforts system-wide.

The efforts by the MTA, as well as every other transit agency in the United States, can only do so much. In a blog post by Transportation for America, we are reminded that even the record-setting $25 billion for mass transit that was written into the CARES Act will not be enough to completely cover losses due to the dramatic drop in overall ridership -- but that money also needs to be used to save lives. Congress will need to focus on these areas when they begin work on future relief bills.

The jobs that we as an Association fought so hard for over the years are now playing a critical role on the front lines and, sadly, are taking losses. We need to do our part to make sure that these workers are cared for -- not only in the middle of the current crisis but in the future as well.

Member & Donor News and Notices

  • While the Rail Passengers staff is working remotely, we don’t have access to permanent membership cards or printed membership/benefits information. Luckily, you can find information about your Rail Passengers membership (like your member number and membership level), update your personal information, and print a temporary membership card by creating an account at www.railpassengers.org and selecting “My Account” on the homepage. Additional member benefits information can be found on our website.

  • If you renew your membership by mail, please be sure to send a membership renewal form in 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. Membership dues renewal forms typically read, “Yes, I deserve better: I’m renewing to make sure passengers’ voices are heard!”

  • If you are renewing or donating by credit card, before you seal your envelope, PLEASE double check to make sure you’ve included the cards expiration date and CVV number. Without those numbers your payment/donation can not be processed.

  • While the Rail Passengers staff is working outside of the office, without access to stationery, mailed copies of ‘thank you’ letters are a challenge. We are currently working with our Neon membership database to use email distribution as an alternative. Even though the thank you letters are delayed, please know that your membership and donations are immensely appreciated. Thank You!

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

This week social media coverage included continued updates on the pandemic. We’re staying in the loop to make sure our followers are informed of the latest Amtrak and public transportation service changes from around the country.

Quotes from our Facebook community this week:

“Now that we have recognized Amtrak as an essential service, we can stop with the talk about eliminating long distance trains and calling them experiential.” - CJ Walker

“I'll give (Flynn) a chance. Hope he realizes the mission of Amtrak is to operate a true National Network of trains. Not just corridors” - Mike Lustig

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 every day!


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 update you on what Rail Passengers HQ is up to...even when we’re all working online or from home!

  • Jim Mathews, President & CEO, followed up on Congressional requests, worked with Texas Central to defend the Dallas-Houston high-speed project and continued to negotiate with partners while assessing the viability of our plans to hold our “Spring” meeting in June in Alexandria.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, helped Rail Passengers Council Members field questions from Congressional offices in response to last week's Rail Passengers Day on the Hill. He also worked to build out a list of passenger rail improvement projects and upgrades that could be quickly launched if funding becomes available in the next round of coronavirus response legislation.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, has continued to focus on building the logistics needed for the Focus/Working Group Project to proceed.

  • Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, worked with the rest of the policy/field team on wrapping up our Virtual Day on the Hill event from last week as well as beginning to help shape what the post-virus landscape will look like. Joe also has been working with regional advocates on a number of virtual planning opportunities.

  • Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, is assisting with Day on the Hill wrap up, and supporting the policy team on their developments.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week working on outreach messages, talking with members, processing deposits and Association administrative tasks.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, updated our online member experience, processed payments, and responded to member inquiries.

Ease Your ‘Social Distancing’ With Lonely Planet's Amazing Train Journeys

If you’re spending more time than you used to at home waiting for the “All Clear” to start hitting the rails again, why not order yourself a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Amazing Train Journeys’ guidebook to pass the time? It’s not only a gorgeous and fun book, but 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! You win and we win!

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!

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!


Upcoming Events

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

Metropark, New Brunswick and Princeton Junction Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, New Jersey Transit has closed all station waiting rooms, including Metropark, New Brunswick and Princeton Junction, until further notice.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Rome and Utica, NY, Stations Waiting Room Policy Temporarily Modified

Effective April 8, 2020

Effective April 8, the Rome and Utica, NY, stations waiting room policy is temporarily modified, until further notice.

Station waiting rooms are open for customers wearing masks, only. All passengers without a mask must wait for trains outside.

Sherriff deputies will be stationed at the entrances of each station to ensure the policy is adhered.

City of New Orleans Trains 58 and 59 Suspended between McComb and New Orleans

Until Further Notice

Please be advised that Canadian National Railway is prohibiting passenger trains over the Bonnet Carre Spillway due to planned emergency flood control, affecting the City of New Orleans service as outlined below:

Train 59, which normally operates between Chicago and New Orleans, will terminate at McComb, MS. Bus 3259 will operate between McComb and New Orleans, serving intermediate station stop of Hammond.

Train 58, which normally operates between New Orleans and Chicago, will originate at McComb, MS. Bus 3258 will operate between New Orleans and McComb, serving intermediate station stop of Hammond. Bus 3258 will depart New Orleans at 1:00 pm, 45 minutes earlier than Train 59’s scheduled departure time.

Please note: Trains 58 and 59 will not stop at Brookhaven and Hazlehurst and no alternate transportation will be provided.

San Joaquins Service Schedule Changes - UPDATE

Effective Immediately

Please be advised that the San Joaquins service will operate on limited schedules, until further notice and track work performed by BNSF Railway will affect service on April 3 and 4.

Train Service Changes

  • Trains 701, 702, 703, 704, 714 and 717 and Thruway Bus connections are cancelled.

    • Thruway buses 3512 and 3519 between Bakersfield and Las Vegas are cancelled.

  • Please visit https://amtraksanjoaquins.com/amtrak-san-joaquins-covid-19-serviceadjustments/ for the most up to date Thruway schedules.

  • Café car service is suspended effective March 26. Complimentary snacks and water will be available.

Track Work Affects Service April 3-4

  • Friday, April 3, Train 718, which normally operates from Oakland (Jack London Square) to Bakersfield, will terminate at Wasco.

    • Amtrak Thruway Bus 5818 will originate at Wasco and provide alternate transportation between Wasco and Bakersfield.

  • Saturday, April 4, Train 711, which normally operates from Bakersfield to Oakland (Jack London Square), will originate at Wasco.

    • Amtrak Thruway Bus 5811 will operate through to Wasco, providing alternate transportation between Bakersfield and Wasco. Bus 5811 will depart all station stops from San Diego to Bakersfield 15 minutes earlier than normally scheduled.

Station Changes

  • Station buildings at Fresno, Hanford, Merced and Modesto are closed, until further notice. Customers boarding at these stations should proceed directly to the train and may purchase tickets onboard from the conductor.

  • Bakersfield, Stockton, Sacramento, Emeryville, Martinez and Oakland will operate with reduced staff and hours.

California Zephyr Schedule Changes

Effective Immediately

California Zephyr and Amtrak Thruway bus service will be reduced effective immediately, until further notice, as outlined below:

Train Service Changes

  • Trains 5 and 6 will terminate/originate at Denver

  • Service is suspended between Reno and Denver with no alternate transportation provided.

Thruway Bus Service

  • Amtrak Thruway Buses 3524 and 3547 continue to operate daily between Reno and Sacramento, serving Truckee, Auburn, Rocklin, Roseville and Sacramento. The bus does not service Colfax.

  • Reno station is temporarily closed during this time.

Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight Weekend Service Changes

Effective Thursday through Sunday April 2 through 12, 2020

Due to bridge replacement work being performed by Metrolink-SCRRA, the Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight service will be adjusted as shown below:

Pacific Surfliner Northbound Trains, Saturday-Sunday, April 11-12:

  • Train 763, which normally operates between San Diego and Goleta will terminate at Los Angeles. Bus 4863 will operate in place of Train 763 from Los Angeles to Oxnard and Train 1763 will operate from Oxnard to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will operate from Santa Barbara.

  • Train 777, which normally operates between San Diego to Goleta, will terminate at Los Angeles. Bus 4877 will operate in place of Train 777 from Los Angeles to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will be provided from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. No alternate transportation will be provided to Carpinteria or Ventura.

  • No alternate transportation will be provided to missed stations of Glendale, Burbank Airport, Chatsworth, Simi Valley or Camarillo.

  • Buses will depart all stations earlier than the normal schedule.

Pacific Surfliner Southbound Trains, Saturday-Sunday, April 11-12:

  • Train 768, which normally operates between Goleta and San Diego, will originate at Los Angeles. In place of Train 768, Train 1768 will operate from Goleta to Oxnard and Bus 4868 from Oxnard to Los Angeles. Regular connecting bus service will be provided from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara.

  • Train 796 which normally operates between Goleta and San Diego, will originate at Los Angeles. In place of Train 796, Train 1796 will operate between Goleta and Oxnard and Bus 4896 from Oxnard to Los Angeles. Regular connecting bus service will be provided from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara.

  • No alternate transportation will be provided to missed stations of Glendale, Burbank Airport, Chatsworth, Simi Valley or Camarillo.

  • Buses will depart all stations earlier than the normal schedule

Coast Starlight, Thursday-Sunday, April 9-12:

  • Train 11 is cancelled on April 2 and 9. Train 1011 will operate in place of Train 11 between Seattle and Los Angeles, departing Seattle at 8:45 am, 60 minutes earlier than the normal schedule, operating this earlier schedule through to Los Angeles.

  • Trains 11 and 14, which normally operate between Seattle and Los Angeles, will be cancelled between Oakland and Los Angeles, missing intermediate stops at San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Van Nuys and Burbank.

    • Travel between Los Angeles and Oakland, via Bakersfield, may be booked using Amtrak San Joaquins and Thruway bus service.

    • Travel to most of the missed intermediate stops between Los Angeles or Oakland may be booked using a combination of Amtrak Capitol Corridor and/or Thruway bus service.

Piedmont Services Schedule Changes

Effective March 23, 2020

Piedmont Service schedules are adjusted effective March 23, until further notice, as outlined below:

Train Service Changes

  • Piedmont Trains 73, 74, 77 and 78 are cancelled.

  • Piedmont Trains 75 and 76 will operate daily on their current schedule.

Vermonter and Ethan Allen Schedule Changes

Effective March 26, 2020

Effective March 26, schedule changes and station closures will impact Vermonter and Ethan Allen trains, until further notice, as outlined below:

Vermonter Trains and Stations:

  • Trains 54, 55, 56 and 57 will not operate between New Haven, CT and St. Albans, VT.

  • Vermonter trains will continue to operate between Washington, D.C. and New Haven, Monday through Saturday.

  • All Amtrak stations in Vermont are temporarily closed.

Ethan Allen Trains:

  • Ethan Allen trains will not operate between Rutland and Albany.

Coaster Commuter Trains

Effective March 23, 2020

The North County Transit District has announced it will temporarily reduce service for its Coaster commuter trains starting Monday.

  • Weekday train service will be reduced by about 50%, particularly around the noon hour, when several northbound and southbound trains will be suspended. Likewise, just one evening train in either direction will continue to run, 5:41 p.m. southbound and 7:13 p.m. northbound.

  • Southbound commuters will have to be on the 7:40 a.m. train or wait until 2:42 p.m. Northbound commuters can leave as late as 9:18 a.m.

  • Weekend Coaster service will be suspended entirely beginning March 28. The Breeze bus service has been temporarily eliminated.

  • In addition to the Coaster trips which will remain active, riders with a valid Coaster Regional day or monthly pass will still be able to ride the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. Amtrak will also be implementing service reductions.

Amtrak Cascades Schedule Changes

Effective March 21, 2020

Amtrak Cascades will be operating on a reduced schedule between Seattle and Eugene as outlined below:

Train Service Changes

  • Train 500 will operate daily until April 3, departing Eugene at 5:30 am.

  • Train 504 will operate daily until April 3, departing Portland at 12:00 pm.

  • Train 517 will originate in Seattle, with no alternate transportation provided.

  • Train 518 will terminate in Seattle, with no alternate transportation provided.

  • Trains 502, 506, 507, 508, 511, 513, 516 and 519 will not operate between March 21 and April 3.

Please note: Café service is suspended until further notice effective March 21 for outbound and March 22 for inbound trains.

POINT Bus Service Changes-March 21 through April 3

  • Bus 5503 will operate daily, departing Portland at 12:25 pm.

  • Bus 5504 will operate daily, departing Eugene (Willamette Street) at 8:24 am.

  • Bus 5508 will provide service for Train 508, departing Eugene (Willamette Street) at 3:55 pm

  • Buses 5502 and 5545 will not operate.

Capitol Corridor Service Schedule Changes

Effective March 21, 2020

Please be advised that the Capitol Corridor service will operate on limited schedules beginning March 21.

In addition to schedule changes, some station facilities will be adjusting hours of operation.

For the most up to date information and changes, please visit www.capitolcorridor.org or call 1-877974-3322.

Missouri River Runner Train 311 Operating 1 Hour Earlier

Effective March 23, 2020

In an effort to increase on time performance and customer satisfaction, Missouri River Runner Train 311 will operate 1 hour earlier beginning March 23.

Schedule outlined below:


Train 311 Daily

St. Louis

8:15 a.m.


8:44 a.m.


9:21 a.m.


9:49 a.m.

Jefferson City

10:36 a.m.


11:49 a.m.


12:20 p.m.

Lee’s Summit

1:04 p.m.


1:20 p.m.

Kansas City

1:55 p.m.

Flagstaff, AZ, Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective April 3, 4, 7 through 10, 2020

The Flagstaff, AZ, station waiting room is temporarily closed on April 3, 4 and 7 through 10. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Bingen-White Salmon and Wishram, WA Stations Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Bingen-White Salmon and Wishram station waiting rooms are temporarily closed, until further notice. Trains will continue to stop at both stations and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Glenwood Springs, CO, Station Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Glenwood Springs, CO, station is temporarily closed. Trains will not stop at the station through April 12.

There will be no access to the inside of the station during this time.

Mendota, IL, Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Mendota, IL, station waiting room is temporarily closed, until further notice. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Albuquerque, NM, Station Waiting Room Hours Temporarily Modified

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Albuquerque, NM, station waiting room hours are temporarily modified, until further notice.

Ticketed passengers and those wishing to purchase tickets will have access to the inside of the station by security 2 hours prior to train arrival and until the train departs.

Washington, Hermann, Arcadia, Kirkwood, MO, Station Waiting Rooms Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Kirkwood, MO, station waiting room is temporarily closed. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

East Lansing and Kalamazoo, MI Station Waiting Rooms Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the East Lansing station waiting room is temporarily closed until further notice. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

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

Harrisburg, Lancaster, Altoona, and Johnstown, PA Stations Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Altoona and Johnstown stations are closed to the public until further notice.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Lawrence and Dodge City, KS Santa Fe Depots Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the city of Dodge City is closing the Santa Fe Depot waiting room until further notice. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Burlington, IA, Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Burlington, IA, station waiting room is temporarily closed. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Travel Tip of the Week

In an email to Amtrak Guest Rewards members, Amtrak announced that it has paused the expiration of Amtrak Guest Rewards points and all coupons, including companion passes, upgrade certificates and others, until September 25, 2020. These changes are effective immediately and there’s no need to enroll or contact Amtrak.

Amtrak Guest Rewards Updates

Amtrak is committed to keeping passengers informed about the actions being taken in response to COVID-19. In that regard, here is some important Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR) updates to share with you.

Your Coupons

For AGR members who have earned upgrade, companion and other coupons, Amtrak is giving additional time to use them. Therefore, Amtrak has paused the expiration of coupons currently in your account between now and September 25, 2020.

Your Points

You deserve the points you have earned. To ensure that you have enough time to use your points and to keep your account active, Amtrak has paused the expiration of points between now and September 25, 2020.

Travel Flexibility

Amtrak also understands that you may need to change or cancel your travel plans. They are waiving change fees on all existing or new reservations made before May 31, 2020. This includes reservations booked with points. To change your reservation, use the app or visit Amtrak.com. To cancel your reservation without fees, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL and speak with a representative.

Amtrak Essential Service Plan: Updates to Service - April 6, 2020

At this time, various states are undertaking specific safety precautions at stations for customers arriving from out of state. Check with each state for specific guidance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential travel for 14 days.

Amtrak service continues to operate on the Northeast Corridor, providing essential services during this challenging time. While Amtrak continues to operate, we have temporarily suspended the following services due to reduced demand.

Operating on a reduced schedule:

  • Adirondack (New York – Montreal): No service north of Albany

  • Amtrak Hartford Line (New Haven, Conn. – Springfield, Mass.)

  • Amtrak Thruway Bus routes

  • California Zephyr (Chicago- Emeryville, Calif.): No service between Denver and Emeryville

  • Capitol Corridor (San Jose – Sacramento)

  • Cascades (Eugene – Vancouver, B.C.): No service north of Seattle

  • Downeaster (Boston – Brunswick, Maine)

  • Empire Service (New York – Niagara Falls)

  • Ethan Allen Express (New York – Rutland, Vermont): No service north of Albany

  • Hiawatha (Chicago – Milwaukee)

  • Illini/Saluki (Chicago – Carbondale)

  • Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg (Chicago – Quincy)

  • Lincoln Service (Chicago – St. Louis)

  • Maple Leaf (New York – Toronto): No service west of Niagara Falls, New York

  • Missouri River Runner (St. Louis – Kansas City)

  • Northeast Regional (Boston – New York – Washington, DC – Virginia)

  • Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo – San Diego)

  • Piedmont (Charlotte – Raleigh)

  • San Joaquins (Bakersfield – Oakland and Sacramento)

  • Valley Flyer (New Haven, Conn. – Greenfield, Mass.)

  • Vermonter (Washington – St. Albans): No service north of New Haven (Monday – Saturday) and no service on Sundays

  • Wolverine (Chicago – Pontiac)

Suspended services:

  • Acela (Boston – Washington, DC)

  • Carolinian (Charlotte – New York)

  • Keystone Service (Harrisburg – New York)

  • Pennsylvanian (New York – Pittsburgh)

  • Pere Marquette (Chicago – Grand Rapids)

  • Winter Park Express (Denver – Winter Park Resort)

What to Expect

Due to service reductions, some stations may not be staffed. If the station is closed, customers should proceed directly to the platform to board their train. Café service will also be suspended on select trains. Other services may be impacted as circumstances change.

Travel Changes

Customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will be contacted and accommodated on trains with similar departure times or on another day.

Ticket Changes and/or Cancellations

Amtrak is waiving change fees for reservations made before May 31, 2020. To modify a reservation, customers can log in to their account, go to ‘Modify Trip’ on Amtrak.com, or find their reservation from their account on the home screen in the Amtrak app. A fare difference may apply to a new itinerary. If customers want to cancel their reservation with no fee, they must call 800-USA-RAIL and speak with an agent (not available via Amtrak.com or the app).

If you need to make changes to your reservation, please refer to Amtrak’s Step-by-Step- Guide for instructions.

Stay healthy.

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]

Looking Beyond Pandemic: The Work Continues

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, 2020 was shaping up as a critical year for the future of American passenger rail. With Amtrak ridership down more than 90% and rescue packages taking shape for intercity passenger rail, private operators, mass transit and airlines, there is a risk that when the crisis is over critically needed investment capital will be cut off -- and the legislative gains we have spent five years setting in motion could be squandered.

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 gear up to fight for passenger rail’s present and future, please consider donating to support this critical work.