Happening Now

Hotline #1,163

April 17, 2020

Rail news for the week ending April 17th

The April Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.

Click here to read the digital version.

Protecting Transit Employees On The Front Lines

As Field Coordinator Joe Aiello stated in his blog last week, 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.

It’s with this thought in mind that the Rail Passengers staff worked with several House offices this week to show solidarity with the transit workers and to gather support in Congress to make sure they are protected.

Reps. Malinowski, Fitzpatrick, Moulton, and Bacon led on a letter to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requesting that transit agencies receive further federal support in acquiring Personal Protective Equipment and that FTA update its guidance to transit agencies to ensure more robust safety protections are put in place for front-line workers. An action alert was emailed out to our general membership on Tuesday and thanks to your help, the letter was sent to the FTA with over 150 co-signers.

The letter calls on FTA to mandate that:

  • Buses, trains, streetcars, and worker facilities, including crew rooms, are regularly disinfected.

  • Agencies are requiring a safe distance between riders and transit operators.

  • Safety precautions are taken to protect transit workers from touching the same digital screen, keyboard, or fingerprint-scanning device, e.g. for timekeeping purposes.

  • Brave front line workers are afforded death benefits.

  • We are calling on our members to contact their Representatives in DC to sign on to this extremely important letter, but time is of the essence.

You can read it in its entirety here.

Amtrak Scales Back Traditional Dining Until May 31 As COVID Slashes Ridership

With only 4,000 people now riding Amtrak nationwide each day across all of Amtrak’s operating services -- versus 90,000 on a typical day before the coronavirus pandemic -- for at least six weeks Amtrak is substituting its Flexible Dining pre-packaged meals on Western trains that normally offer a Traditional cooked-to-order dining experience.

The change takes effect today.

Sleeper passengers traveling on the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle will choose either room service or going to the dining car using the Flexible Dining pre-packaged option; Amtrak will offer Coach customers Café service in the Sightseeing Lounge.

The Auto Train, which has seen very strong ridership as travelers leave Florida heading north, will retain Traditional dining service as an exclusive Sleeping Car amenity.

Long-Distance business line VP Larry Chestler told Rail Passengers’ CEO Jim Mathews earlier this week that the objective is to minimize the number of crew exposed to potential infection while Amtrak provides essential transportation service. He also said that management will keep re-evaluating safety and medical guidance with an eye toward restoring traditional dining as soon as May 31.

Chestler emphasized that the dining change -- which provoked ire among many customers who were previously relieved that Amtrak chose not to implement the Flexible food-service model on Western trains -- is truly temporary and driven by coronavirus safety concerns.

The overarching objective is to protect passengers and crew at a time when transportation and food-service workers are getting sick from coronavirus at higher rates than the general population.

Instead of a chef, a food-service specialist and an attendant to run the dining car on each of 30 trains operating each day across the Network (one in each direction for each route), Flexible dining can be delivered by a single employee. This lets Amtrak move those other employees on to the Extra Board and off the train, where they can keep getting paid but not worry about getting sick or getting others sick.

The dining change is only one of many coronavirus-related adjustments Amtrak has had to make. Seven routes have suspended service entirely due to the pandemic, including the showpiece Acela service between Boston and Washington, D.C. Twenty other routes and services, including Amtrak buses, are running but on drastically reduced frequencies.

Virgin Trains Secures $600 Million in Bonds for Las Vegas – California High-Speed Train

The California Debt Limit Allocation Committee unanimously approved $600 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Virgin Trains USA, which will establish a high-speed rail corridor between Victorville, California and Las Vegas, Nevada.

The $4.8 billion rail project, called XpressWest, will provide a high-speed rail service between Victorville and downtown Las Vegas, and eventually connect to downtown Los Angeles through the California High-Speed Rail project. XpressWest will feature 16 round trips per day, with a 600-person capacity on each trainset. The service will carry passengers across the 180-mile corridor in around 90 minutes.

“It’s not only a train but an important economic development tool for your (Victorville) region, creating 20,000 construction jobs, as well as thousands of housing units and a clean, green electric mass transit system,” state treasurer Fiona Ma told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “It’s like a triple win.”

Virgin Trains must issue the bonds by September 30 of this year, and Internal Revenue Service guidelines will allow the company to leverage the funds to secure a maximum of $2.4 billion in private equity bonds. This will be in addition to the $1 billion in private activity bonds issued to the project by the U.S. Department of Transportation in March.

“Today’s approval is a great example of the public and private sector working together to create statewide solutions for the economy, transportation and housing, and it couldn’t come at a more critical time,” said Ben Porritt, Virgin spokesman. “The XpressWest high-speed rail project will result in thousands of new construction jobs in the Victory Valley region and will help meet California’s environmental initiatives.”

Alabama Could See $5 Billion Boon From More Passenger Rail

Expanding passenger-rail service in Alabama could inject nearly $5 billion into the state's economy and put nearly 31,000 Alabamans to work building it during the next 15 years, and once in operation the three proposed segments could generate anywhere from $102 million to nearly $900 million annually from increased travel and tourism, according to a new economic analysis for the Southern Rail Commission.

In the study carried out by Alabama's Jacksonville State University, researchers took a closer look at existing feasibility studies for rail services connecting Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile while also evaluating the study for high-speed rail from Atlanta, GA to Birmingham. The study accounts for potential economic gains from tourism, construction, operations and other investments, all of which combine to create benefits to the entire state.

Building on modeling work carried out for SRC by the University of Southern Mississippi's Trent Lott Center, the new analysis examined what the three segments -- Birmingham to Montgomery, Montgomery to Mobile and, eventually, Atlanta to Birmingham -- might generate for the state's economy as they phase in.

The low-end estimate, which assumed minimal operations revenue for the service and a 1% increase in travel and tourism, would support 657 jobs related to operating the trains and serving the needs of new travelers: 156 on the first segment between Birmingham and Montgomery, 245 later on when Montgomery to Mobile comes together, and then 256 when the third and final segment is in operation.

The high-end estimate presumed stronger ridership and tourism increases of anywhere from 17% to 24%, depending on the segment, and supports some 8,421 jobs.

“As a follow up to the great work done by the USM on the economic impact related to the restart of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast, it was professionally rewarding to conduct this assessment for the state of Alabama,” said Jennifer Green, who is Director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Jacksonville State.

Amtrak, Other Agencies Nationwide #SoundTheHorn To Support Essential Workers During Pandemic

A day after a bipartisan group of House members led an effort to secure better safety protections for transit and transportation workers in the face of the coronavirus pandemic (see related story above), Amtrak and other transportation providers symbolically rallied to support front-line “essential workers” by coordinating simultaneous horn blasts nationwide in salute.

The #SoundTheHorn campaign called on transportation providers to simultaneously sound vehicle horns at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, April 16, and 18 agencies participated across the country.

“As a tribute to the essential workers on the front lines of this public health crisis, including transportation workers, every Amtrak train in service across the country, and several thousand trains and buses running in service nationwide, will give two one-second horn blasts in solidarity with partner agencies,” Amtrak said in a press statement. “Heroic transportation workers continue to provide critical service for heroic healthcare workers, first responders, childcare workers, grocery store employees and other heroes who are performing critically essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The link between “essential workers” and “essential transportation” is strong and obvious, with more than a third of nurses, pharmacy workers, grocery store clerks and the like relying on transit to get to work. So far at least 60 transit workers have died from coronavirus and transit workers and drivers are contracting the disease at higher rates than many others in the population.

“Every hero deserves to be recognized and thanked for their courage, selflessness and the help they are providing to this country during this time,” said Amtrak Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating and Commercial Officer Stephen Gardner. “We are proud to participate with our partners and ‘sound our horns’ by honoring and thanking all of the heroes across the nation who continue their essential and heroic service.”

CA High-Speed Rail Aims to Reduce Asthma Rates In Central Valley

Transit Systems Struggle to Accommodate Plunge in Ridership and Revenue

As transit agencies see dramatically reduced ridership and farebox revenue, analysts are worried about whether these systems will have the financial liquidity needed to restart the systems at full capacity when the country is ready to start moving again. These concerns are compounded by projections of significant shortfalls in revenue from state sales-tax, which will hit already-weakened transit agencies just as transportation restrictions are being lifted.

As hundreds of millions of Americans quarantine, U.S. roads, transit systems, stations and airports are emptying out. The American Public Transportation Association estimates that nationally transit systems are carrying 70% fewer riders than usual. However, cities and towns still need these transit services to run to allow for essential workers to commute to their job. According to an analysis of 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data by TransitCenter, workers in essential industries— which includes nurses, janitors, grocery and pharmacy clerks—make up 36% of all transit ridership.

The results of these two forces meeting is placing great financial strains on critical transportation networks:

  • SFMTA projects a $200 million loss in this fiscal quarter;

  • WMATA is losing $2.5 million each weekday;

  • New York’s MTA says it will need an additional $3.9 billion in federal aid, matching what it was allocated in the Phase 3 coronavirus package passed by Congress in March;

  • Chicago’s Metra says it will be dealing with a $500 million hole in its budget over the next two years;

  • Utah’s UTA estimates that it will take three years for revenues to bounce back from coronavirus.

These problems will be compounded in coming days by the economic woes overtaking state and city budgets. The Washington Post reports that 2,100 U.S. cities are “anticipating major budget shortfalls this year and many are planning to slash programs and cut staff in response.” And while the budgetary woes of big cities may dominate headlines, officials warn that towns of all sizes will also struggle with declining sales and income tax revenue.

“The reality is that, if a city of 500,000 has challenges, [then] a city of 400,000 and a city of 300,000 and 100,000 has the same challenges,” said Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, S.C.

Rail Passengers is currently working with Congress to ensure that intercity and transit rail systems are able to overcome these budget shortfalls without losses to service. You can keep up to date with these campaigns at RailPassengers.org/COVID19.

Freight Rail Not Immune From Coronavirus

We have seen the effect the current pandemic crisis has had on public transit agencies and Amtrak, but in a report released last week by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) -- we now have a better picture on what has happened with freight rail due to the economic downturn. The total amount of freight cargo being moved by rail in the country has declined almost 24% as compared to last April and a 20% drop in total intermodal traffic.

While it is hard to predict how long this crisis will last, AAR Senior VP John Grey commented that these companies are still transporting “essential chemicals, food products and manufactured goods that we need in good times and bad”.

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.

  • 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!

  • The Rail Passengers Association with participate in #GivingTuesdayNow, a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020. Look for additional information in your inbox and on our social media in the coming days.

  • 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.


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

This week on social media we talked about changes to the long-distance dining cars, supporting Transit workers, advances in High-Speed Rail projects, and much more.

Do you follow the Rail Passengers Association on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? Join the digital conversation! Follow along and make your opinions heard.

This week's top comments:

"I really want to see more electrification outside the northeast corridor. Like the wolverine and the various lines that go to Chicago could benefit from electrification and higher speeds" - Pat Hamm

"To start, all of us need to promote that people use public transit options (including high speed rail) as much as possible through word of mouth, social media channels, and other forms of communication, emphasizing that using public transit can help reduce car traffic, road congestion, and air pollution, as well as to help improve air quality and mobility throughout the U.S.! Plus, all of us need to stay in contact with elected and other officials at the local, state, and federal levels to let them know that we want improved and expanded public transit options!" - Paul McManus


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, spent the week focused on ways to get infrastructure into the mix as legislators continue to contemplate stimulus bills in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Jim also worked on his written testimony for two Federal Railroad Administration hearings and sat down with Amtrak’s Long-Distance business chief to learn more about the temporary dining changes on Western trains. Jim emphasized during that meeting that Rail Passengers remains interested in a longer term solution to the dining problem and Flexible Dining’s shortcomings.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, was briefed by House Transportation & Infrastructure committee staffers on plans for infrastructure in coming coronavirus response packages and how it affects the calendar for advancing the surface transportation reauthorization. He also met with transit and other transportation stakeholders to develop strategies for ensuring transit and rail benefit from any general fund contributions to transportation programs, opposing any attempt to direct all investment towards highways. Finally, Jeans-Gail coordinated with other members of the Policy Team to advance a Congressional sign-on letter that will direct the FTA to provide better protection for transit workers and passengers.

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

  • Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, worked with Madi Butler to continue our online outreach and advocacy during this trying time, as well as building up a database of infrastructure projects from around the country. Joe also coordinated with our policy/field team and Congressional staff to gather support for a letter asking the FTA to better protect transit workers.

  • Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, has spent the past week talking with other organizers, developing field team plans, and preparing more online resources for our fellow advocates. If your regional or state group is interested in joining this collaborative process, please contact by email: [email protected]

  • Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week working on messaging for upcoming campaigns, processing donations and Association administrative activities.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, has been making backend updates to our member database, updated routine member communications, and convened the Membership Sub-Committee to discuss the current state of Association membership.

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

Waiting rooms in the states of Washington, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Kansas have temporarily closed due to COVID-19. As waiting rooms are closed by Amtrak, we post them here in the Hotline for your convenience. You can find the actual stations below.

In addition, there have been several route modifications and while Amtrak continues to operate, some trains and routes have been temporarily suspended or running on a reduced schedule. See Amtrak.com or Amtrak’s mobile app for the most up to date information. This information is also updated below every Friday.

William H Gray III, 30th Street Station Temporary Changes

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, Philadelphia’s William H Gray, III 30th Street station will reduce the number of entrances and modify station hours, until further notice.

Station entrances will be reduced to a single entrance in the 30th Street Portico, the SEPTA concourse from 30th street and through the parking garage.

The station will be closed between 1:00 am and 5:00 am, to all non-Amtrak personnel, in order to clean and disinfect for our riders and employees.

Vancouver, WA, Station Waiting Room Hours Temporarily Modified

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Vancouver, WA, station waiting room hours are temporarily modified, until further notice.

The station will close daily at 4:15 pm until further notice and the station will not be staffed for Trains 28 and 505. Train 505 will board on the front platform and Train 28 will board on the platform behind the station

Pacific Surfliner Weekend Service Changes

Friday, Saturday and Sunday April 17 through 19, 2020

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

Friday, April 17

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, April 18 and 19

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

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

  • Northbound Trains 579, 593, 763, 777, 785 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided between San Diego and Irvine to connect with the trains listed above. Buses will depart Downtown San Diego, Solana Beach and Oceanside 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 Irvine 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 Juan Capistrano or San Clemente Pier.

Changes have been made at many staffed stations to maintain the safety of passengers and staff, and to address current service levels. The Irvine Station will be open on April 18 and 19. For more details please visit PacificSurfliner.com/Advisory.

Northeast Regional Service Weekend Schedule Changes

Effective April 17 and 18, 2020

To accommodate bridge work being performed between New Haven, CT and Springfield, MA, Northeast Regional schedules will be adjusted as outlined below.

Friday, April 17

Train 148, which normally operates between Washington, D.C. and Springfield, will terminate at New Haven. Alternate transportation will be provided, via Bus 3148, making all intermediate stops at State Street, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor and Windsor Locks.

Saturday, April 18

Train 147, which normally operates between Springfield and Washington, D.C., will originate at New Haven. Alternate transportation will be provided, via Bus 3147, making all intermediate stops at Windsor Locks, Windsor, Hartford, Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford and State Street.

Metropark, New Brunswick and Princeton Junction, NJ Station Waiting Rooms 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.

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.

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.

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.

Lincoln, Mendota, IL, Station Waiting Rooms 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.

Independence, 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 are 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 10, 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

  • 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)

  • Downeaster (Boston – Brunswick, Maine)

  • 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.