Happening Now

Hotline #1,167

May 15, 2020

Rail news for the week ending May 15th

D.C. Office Closed, Rail Passengers Staff To Telework.

Click here for more information on how this affects your membership.


The May Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.

Click here to read the digital version.

U.S. House Unveils $3 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill With $16 Billion for Transit, Nothing for Amtrak

House Democrats’ unveiled a $3 trillion coronavirus response that would, among other things, send $1 trillion to state and local governments and provide $15.75 billion for struggling transit agencies. That amount is well short of the $23.8 billion identified by the American Public Transit Association (APTA) and fails to include any of the $1.63 billion that Amtrak has said it will need to supplement its FY2021 federal grant. Senate Republicans were swift to declare the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), which would be the fourth in a series of COVID-19 emergency funding bills, “dead on arrival.”

Amtrak is asking for $1.633 billion on the top of the original $2.04 billion FY2021 grant request that was transmitted earlier this year, which includes:

  • $1.145 billion for the NEC and National Network

  • $260 million for Sec. 209 State Partners

  • $229 million Sec. 212 Commuter Partners

Rail Passengers has launched a campaign to ask the House to provide the necessary funding for passenger rail to return pre-COVID 19 levels of service and boosts the funding for transit to the levels identified by APTA in a survey of agencies ridership and revenue shortfalls.

“We appreciate the $16 billion that the House has proposed for transit,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “However, we are asking Congress to provide the necessary amount of funding for transit and Amtrak—for the simple fact that it’s what these operators will need to weather these extraordinary hardships. It doesn’t make sense to pass a $3 trillion relief bill but balk at the $1.6 billion price tag to ensure the return of fully functioning intercity and commuter railroads in the U.S.”

Infrastructure a No-Show

While there had been big talk from both House leadership and the White House about the desire to include an infrastructure component in the next round of COVID-19, that was sidelined in the House Democratic proposal. Instead, the HEROES Act focuses on addressing the dramatic increase in unemployed Americans and the budgetary needs of states and local governments, who have seen a sharp drop-off in tax revenue.

Rail Passengers has been collecting a database of passenger rail projects that could advance relatively quickly if funding became available (located at RailPassengers.org/COVID19). We will continue to advocate for these projects in the Senate, and in the event that the House advances an ambitious surface transportation program, which is rumored to be close.

The HEROES Act does have a number of transportation-specific set-asides and policies. Read more of our analysis about the HEROES Act here.

Join Rail Passengers May 27th for a National Passenger Rail Briefing

Join us May 27th at 2pm Eastern, when Rail Passengers senior staff will share the latest passenger rail policies in the U.S. Congress.

While the virus risk and new health and safety restrictions have indefinitely delayed our ability to gather in place, the work we're doing needs to continue. Rail Passengers is hosting a webinar looking at the ability of rail and transit service providers to weather this storm, and what a return to normal will look like. Topics will include:

  • An overview of the first four phases of coronavirus legislation, and its effect on rail and mass transit;

  • Our analysis of the HEROES Act unveiled by the House Democrats this month, and its prospects in the Senate;

  • Current levels of service across the Amtrak network, and what it will take to get passengers safely traveling again;

  • Future funding needs for transit and rail in upcoming packages; and

  • Strategies for ensuring passenger rail projects are included in any infrastructure packages.

We’ll also field your questions, so we hope you join us! Please RSVP if you plan on attending.

Investors See MTA as Key to City’s Recovery

Even in the midst of the worst virus outbreak in a century, investors are starting to focus on the importance of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the role it will play when the city starts its economic recovery.

This week, the agency sold $1.1 billion worth of debt to repay notes that we set to mature today (May 15th). A number of the individual trades, ranging from $1 to $1.5 million, rallied in the municipal bond market after the MTA doubled the size of the deal to attract more interest. The agency is one of the biggest bond issuers in the $3.8 trillion market. Dora Lee, director of research at Belle Haven Investments, which holds the MTA’s debt stated that “there are inherent strengths to the MTA such as its essentiality to the economy and recovery” and that the CARES Act confirmed that fact.

The MTA still could face a potential $8.5 billion budget deficit for 2020.

U.K. Trains Adding Service but with Masks, Light Loads and Reservations

In the U.K. rail operators are starting to gear up for more service as the country begins a gradual re-opening, but with a host of restrictions ranging from mandatory masks to unreserved trains running with reservations only.

"We're appealing to our valued customers to help us and other passengers by only travelling with a reservation," said Avanti West Coast's managing director Phil Whittingham. Avanti’s routes connect London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. "If everyone does this, we'll be able to keep social distancing in place on board, both for our customers and our people.”

The U.K. government and the commuter and regional railways worked out a plan last week that would see service operate at about 70% of regular levels, up from the 50% schedule being run during the height of lockdown. Train operators also expect to use the reservations-only system to ensure that trains only run 25% full on any given route.

The London North Eastern Railway (LNER), too, will start requiring reservations on its trains, even for those with commuter-style multi-ride passes, but noted that passengers should ignore the seat number that appears on their reservation. Travelers are instead asked to choose their seats on board the train by keeping in mind social-distancing guidelines, keeping six feet apart, allowing only one traveler per row, leaving two empty rows in regular seating areas and one in first-class, and avoiding facing other passengers.

Railways are also telling customers to “wear a face mask if you cannot keep your distance.” While railroads are “suggesting” masks and other measures for passengers, they’ll require them for employees and staff.

Avanti’s Voyager trains with on-board food service won’t sell or serve food, and the Pendolino service will serve coffee but not in re-usable cups.

Last-Minute Haggling Over Minnesota Bonding Authority Leaves ‘Baby Builder’ Awaiting Its Fate

Plans for a second train between Chicago and the Twin Cities hang in the balance this weekend as Minnesota state lawmakers tussle over bonding authority in the waning hours of this legislative session.

Legislators have until midnight Sunday night to finish their work, and the state Department of Transportation is looking to get $10 million in bonding authority approved for track and signal improvements. That $10 million is important because Minnesota and Wisconsin together need to commit $25 million in local matching funds in order to qualify for $50 million in federal money from the FRA-administered Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program.

Wisconsin already has its $10 million in bonding authority secured, along with $12.6 million in federal start-up funding for the first three years of operation. For its part, Amtrak is kicking in $5 million.

Wisconsin, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration have all put up money to advance the “Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service Project,” which many advocates affectionately call the “Baby Builder” because it will run along the same route as the Empire Builder but at opposite times of day and make additional stops at Milwaukee’s airport and in Sturtevant, Wis.

Earlier this month Minnesota House Republicans were holding the bonding authority hostage in a standoff with Gov. Tim Walz over Walz’s continuing use of emergency powers to handle the coronavirus pandemic, but local rail advocates believe the threat to block the bonding bill has passed – especially since Senate Republicans disagreed with their House colleagues’ strategy over the bonding issues.

Walz’s original proposal was $10 million for the second train, while the House Bonding Bill proposes $40 million to cover a much larger package that includes the second train, the Northern Lights Express and extending the Northstar commuter line from Big Lake to St. Cloud. All Aboard Minnesota reports that House Ways and Means passed their bill this week. In the Senate the Democrat-Farm-Labor party proposed $15 million for the second train and the Northern Lights Express, but Senate Republicans’ plans remain unknown.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, a Republican, said yesterday that the Governor’s announcement earlier this week that he’s letting his stay-at-home order expire Monday and allowing more businesses to reopen while observing new safety guidelines was probably enough to permit an overall $2 billion bonding package to pass.

All Aboard Minnesota has worked tirelessly on these issues and so far has sent out two action alerts asking advocates to pressure Gazelka and Senate Capital Investment Committee Chairman David Senjem to back more passenger-rail funding. You can join that effort here by following this link.

Last year a Rail Passengers Association economic-benefits analysis showed that the Baby Builder would be an exceptionally sound investment with an impressive payoff as costs to operate the new train, estimated at $13.4 million annually, would be more than offset by the total economic benefit.

Ridership revenue (i.e., fares paid and some associated spending on-board) can be expected to contribute about $6.8 million each year to offsetting that annual operational cost. The balance of the direct costs, about $6.6 million, could be spread across each of the three states in the corridor (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois). Simultaneously, however, the states would collectively see a $47 million annual economic benefit from the new service – a return on investment of better than 7-to-1.

Most passengers for the new service would come from travelers leaving their cars behind, limiting pollution and easing congestion. Rail Passengers estimated that 90,000 people who would otherwise drive would be taken off the roads, saving $32 million across the region in highway maintenance costs. Trains are 17 times safer than personal automobiles, meaning that the region will save $1.8 million due to traffic accidents avoided. In addition, trains are among the greenest modes of ground transportation. While reliable net-pollution cost models aren’t available, a very conservative estimate is that eliminating these car trips would save more than $120,000 in pollution-related costs to the economy each year.

There’s also little risk of the new train hurting the existing Empire Builder’s ridership given the effects seen elsewhere of adding service, or diverting substantial numbers of travelers from bus service. Assuming current ridership trends hold for the introduction of new service, only 11% of the train’s new ridership will have otherwise used a bus. About as many passengers as the would-be bus riders will not have taken the trip at all, as 9% of Amtrak passengers in the region include induced ridership, taking trips that won’t be made without the train. Such ridership on the new train will result in new visitor spending in Minnesota worth at least $2.8 million each year.

Oklahoma State House Endorses Heartland Flyer Extension to Kansas

The Oklahoma State House of Representatives passed a resolution on May 13th and endorsed the extension of Amtrak service between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Newton, Kansas, through the creation of a multistate partnership between Amtrak and the states. The resolution mirrors a bill passed by the Kansas Senate in March of this year.

"The Northern Flyer Alliance hopes that this news elevates the Heartland Flyer Extension to top priority status for budgetary and Reauthorization Act funding for Amtrak, Congress as well as RPA's recommendation to Congress,” said Deborah Fischer Stout, President of the Northern Flyer Alliance. “Both bills passed unanimously in their respective legislative bodies. The Heartland, just like the rest of the country needs reliable pathways to prosperity to recover from the economic aftermath of this pandemic."

The case laid out by the resolution focuses on the economic benefits that would come with the expanded service, and on the important role Amtrak would play in covering capital startup costs through its Corridor Development Program. The resolution also speaks about the importance of the Southwest Chief for a viable OK – NE rail corridor:

  • Numerous studies conducted by universities in Texas and Kansas have determined the economic benefit of Amtrak's Heartland Flyer passenger rail service and its extension to be at least three to one for every dollar spent;

  • Amtrak has approached the State of Oklahoma to enter into a multi-operational partnership for an extended Heartland Flyer, with connecting service between Amtrak's Southwest Chief and Texas Eagle;

  • Ridership on the Heartland Flyer extension from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Newton, Kansas, is anticipated to double if connected with the Southwest Chief in Newton, Kansas; and fully funded maintenance of the Southwest Chief is an integral and vital component of the Heartland Flyer extension;

  • The COVID-19 Virus state of emergency and steps taken to battle the virus have highlighted our need for safer travel options to enable residents in small cities to reach needed medical centers and to provide methods of travel to the many travelers who can no longer travel in airplanes due to their medical situations;

  • The Kansas Department of Transportation has been the recipient of several federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants that have improved the Southwest Chief tracks. The Southwest Chief serves several communities in the state of Kansas and laid the groundwork for the planning and development of expanded passenger rail services; and

  • The Kansas House and Senate have passed the new Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program, which includes money for the operational expenses of the Heartland Flyer extension from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Newton, Kansas;

  • The Governor of the State of Kansas has proposed to dedicate funds in the Kansas state budget for preliminary work for the development of additional passenger rail service;

  • Passenger rail service generates economic and environmental benefits throughout the state and region;

  • While extensive capital expenditures are necessary for the restoration of rail services between Newton, Kansas, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the federal government will likely reauthorize funding for the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act;

  • Amtrak has presented to the 2020 Committee on Ways and Means of the Kansas Senate a plan to request 100% in federal funding for the passenger rail development of the Heartland Flyer extension through reauthorization.

Connecticut Governor Says Commuting to the City for Work Could Be ‘Behind Us’

There’s a line of thinking emerging that telecommuting for work might be the “new normal” that everyone is now talking about as the U.S. begins to think about how it will live through -- and with -- the coronavirus outbreak. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D), whose state has long thrived on rail commuting between New York City and his state’s tonier suburbs bordering New York, is among them.

In an interview this week with Bloomberg TV, Lamont said that the idea of the Monday through Friday commute to NYC for work may well be behind us, especially if you can do “two-thirds of your job from home in Stamford.”

Lamont is not alone in this as a number of Wall Street execs, such as Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley, have said that working with thousands of employees in one building will be a “thing of the past.” Around 43,000 people commuted to New York City from Southwest Connecticut in 2017.

Rail Passengers CEO Jim Mathews said he recognizes the appeal of the argument, but noted in a blog post that those assessments rely on a very narrow view of the workforce.

“Not everyone is a ‘knowledge worker,’” Mathews said. “And not all business relationships can be grown, nurtured and expanded while sitting in front of a screen as your children or pets frolic behind you.”

Mathews also detailed the many types of work that rely on physical presence, and in addition speculated that for many workers the novelty of “working from home” has already worn thin.

You can read more in Mathews’ blog post here.

Amtrak to return Acela Service on the Northeast Corridor

Beginning June 1, Amtrak is restoring Acela service on the Northeast Corridor on a modified schedule in response to anticipated increased demand. Modified service will include the restoration of three weekday Acela roundtrips. Northeast Regional frequencies will also be increased from eight to ten roundtrips. New safety initiatives will continue to be in effect for customers and employees

Amtrak continues to take extra steps to sanitize stations and trains. Additional measures include the following:

  • Facial coverings: As part of Amtrak’s ongoing commitment to protect customers and front-line employees in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Amtrak is requiring that all customers in stations, on trains and thruway buses wear facial coverings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of simple cloth facial coverings or masks to slow the spread of the virus and prevent transmission.

  • Limiting bookings: To help maintain CDC recommendations for physical distancing onboard trains, Amtrak has temporarily reduced Coach, Business, and Acela First Class sales to 50% capacity.

  • Cashless service: As an added measure to ensure the health and safety of customers and employees, Amtrak is temporarily accepting only cashless payments in stations and on trains.

  • Physical distancing: Signage has been displayed at several busiest stations to indicate safe distances in high customer traffic areas such as waiting rooms, in front ticket offices, at the base/top of escalators, lounge entrances, etc. In addition, clear protective barriers have been retrofitted at stations where there are no current glass barriers.

  • Food and beverage service: Amtrak is temporarily offering Flexible Dining service in the dining or lounge car on all long distance routes (except Auto Train) and encouraging all Sleeping Car customers to select optional room service for their meals. In addition, we are limiting seating in dining and café areas.

While some services were reduced or suspended, Amtrak has and will continue to operate as an essential service as the nation recovers. In addition to the Acela and Northeast Regional, trains will be restored to service by monitoring demand, working with state partners and continuing to prioritize customer and employee safety.

Tickets are currently for sale and can be found, along with current schedules on Amtrak.com and through the Amtrak app. Amtrak continues to evaluate current practices and pilot new opportunities to support personal safety.

North Carolina State Passenger Train Service Suspended

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) said in a news release that State-sponsored train service between Raleigh and Charlotte will be suspended beginning next week because of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Service will be suspended beginning on Monday, May 18 on the Piedmont.

Piedmont runs three trips a day between Raleigh and Charlotte. Customers who want to travel, by train, between Raleigh and Charlotte can take the Carolinian, which departs Charlotte each morning and stops in Raleigh en route to New York. The Carolinian returns from New York, makes a stop in Raleigh before reaching Charlotte in the evening.

Passengers with reservations can modify their trip on Amtrak.com​ or find your reservation via the Amtrak app. Fees are being waived on all existing reservations until August 31.

Amtrak also requires that all customers in stations, on trains and thruway buses wear facial coverings. In addition, enhanced cleaning measures are in place on the trains and at stations. While on board, passengers are encouraged to follow social distancing recommendations.

2020 Spring Advocacy Summit and Day On The Hill

On March 9th, when the initial postponement was announced, we sincerely hoped three months’ time would be enough to be able to bring everyone together in June. Unfortunately the persistence of the coronavirus threat across our country has led us to reschedule all in-person meetings until 2021.

The Spring Summit and Day On The Hill activities put us front and center with decision makers on Capitol Hill and it gives all of us a chance to share our successes -- and there have been so many in the past few months! But we have to embrace a new way of conducting business, at least temporarily.

Outlined below are the Association’s exciting plans to keep the energy going, to keep our message in front of the people who will decide rail’s future, and to do an even better job of supporting YOU in your efforts to focus on projects in your community that are most important to you, alongside your help fighting for national passenger rail priorities.

Spring Meeting, Hotel Planning And Options

We are working with our hotel partner for new dates in the Spring of 2021. Much will depend on the hotel’s book of business, the degree to which we and other groups may incur financial penalties, how many other groups have cancelled, along with other factors which frankly are out of our control such as local or state restrictions. Even so, we’re doing our best to secure new 2021 dates that are closer to our traditional dates -- April 4 through April 7. As soon as additional information is available we’ll share it with you.

Meanwhile, because we are postponing until 2021, the options below are offered for your consideration.

  • Apply your 2020 registration fee to RailNation:DC 2021. If you choose this option, you will be locked in at the 2020 rate no matter what. So, if event registration fees were to be higher in 2021, you would still owe nothing further to the Association.

  • Consider donating your RailNation:DC 2020 registration fees to the Association. Like many other non-profit organizations, we are seeing real financial impacts from the COVID-19 crisis, and we would appreciate your generosity. You will receive a tax receipt for your records showing your donation. If you register for RailNation:DC 2021 you will be paying the 2021 event registration rate.

  • Request a refund. If you register for RailNation:DC 2021 you will be paying the 2021 event registration rate, which could be higher.

The above options only relate to fees paid to the Rail Passengers Association. You will need to contact the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Old Town Alexandria to cancel your hotel reservations. Remember to also reach out to your travel provider to better understand the options available to you. Please make sure you mention that the event you were traveling to attend was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus.

Please send an email to Jonsie Stone, [email protected], with your preference. Include in the subject line RailNation:DC Registration Option. This way we can be sure we don’t overlook anyone’s responses.

Staying In Front Of Policymakers While Also Staying At Home


Starting May 27th, and continuing every month afterwards, we’ll be organizing a series of online events for anyone who wants to keep informed, stay involved, and upgrade their personal organizing and advocacy skills. The idea is to give you the knowledge, the background, and the practical tips you’ll need to help us carry on this work from wherever you are. We’ve already started developing programs to cover the following:

  • National Briefing (May 27): Beginning with a dive into policy, we will review the first four phases of coronavirus legislation and what it means to current service levels for Amtrak and transit; future needs for transit and rail in any upcoming packages; updates on transportation legislation that is currently in play; and strategies for ensuring passenger rail projects are included in any upcoming infrastructure packages.

  • Online Advocacy 101: Focusing on communications and messaging, our team will provide a walkthrough of best practices for engaging an audience using the new digital tools and social media, gaining the attention of policy makers through online channels, free online platforms for hosting regional meetings and conferences, and more.

  • Corridor Spotlights: Our field team will coordinate with our Council Members and local groups to provide regional updates on corridor development initiatives, speakers from state rail groups to help provide vital local context, and opportunities to get personally involved at the local level.

  • Transportation Stakes in the 2020 Elections: The policy staff will walk you through potential outcomes in the 2020 general elections and their projected impact on transportation policy at the federal level, key national- and state-level races to watch, and any state and local transit initiatives on the ballot [Rail Passengers is a 501(c)(3) and is prohibited by law from endorsing any political candidates].

Our team wants to hear from you about any additional topics you’d like us to cover:

  • Is there a specific corridor or region you’d like us to focus on?

  • Have an idea for a campaign, but need to see how the policy team would go about creating a communications strategy and ground game?

  • Do you have questions about how a federal grant program works?

Help us understand what you need to be a more effective voice for passengers in your region! Please reach out to Joe Aiello ([email protected], Subject: Webinar Topics) with topics and questions you’d like addressed in any upcoming Rail Passengers briefings.

Register for our May 27 National Briefing webinar!

Please consider applying your 2020 RailNation:DC registration fee to next year’s event or simply making it a donation. And please also plan to take part in as many of our new online events as you can.

We look forward to working together to represent the interests of America’s passengers over the coming months!

Member & Donor News

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

  • In addition to including funding for passenger trains and transit agencies, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act also included new tax incentives for charitable giving. We’ve provided a quick overview here and encourage each of you to seek advice from a financial planner.

  • Save us postage. If you respond to one of our membership renewals or direct mail appeals, you can save us money on postage if you apply your own stamp to the reply envelope. Every little bit helps!

  • Check your envelopes before returning your donation. If you respond to one of our direct mail appeals, please double check the return envelope before you seal it. We’ve had several instances over the last few weeks of receiving sealed, empty envelopes. Also, please include the buck slip or coupon attached at the bottom of our letters.

  • While the Rail Passengers staff is working remotely, we are unable to print permanent membership cards or 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; let us know at [email protected] if you would like us to add your email address to your account. 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

As we wrap up another week at home, our social media has been buzzing! From PPE updates to reopening services, we want to make sure our members are receiving news that keeps them safe, healthy, and up to date. This week we covered both Capital Metro in Austin and the Pacific Surfliner in Los Angeles teaming up with local food banks to get food to those in need, DC’s Metro balancing their 2020 budget thanks to CARES Act funding, celebrated Amtrak Police for National #PoliceWeek, and much more.

Follow along and join the conversation via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and our blog posts on RailPassengers.org


If you are working with a local organization and have news you would like to share, please reach out and let us know by emailing Madi Butler ([email protected]) with links to your press release, blog, or article. Are you holding a community meeting, networking opportunity or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. Email Joseph Aiello ([email protected]) We will include those updates in our coverage and put them on the website here.

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, began the week meeting with Federal Railroad Administration officials and ended it recording a podcast for Montana Public Radio. Tune in to A New Angle at Montana Public Radio when it airs! He also participated in efforts to include Amtrak and transit funding in relief bills and meetings with allied rail organizations.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, has been working with Congress on the HEROES Act, and to include Amtrak funding and improve transit funding in the final bill, as well as coordinating with members and other stakeholder groups on infrastructure legislation to put Americans back to work.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, has been busy this week continuing to recruit for and set up the Focus Group project including a custom form for collecting data and reporting out data.

  • Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, spent the bulk of the week reaching out to members and partner organizations, as well as working with the rest of the policy/field team, in preparation for our upcoming webinar on May 27th.

  • Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, spent the week preparing for our upcoming webinar series, and meeting with local and regional orgs to discuss service changes.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week working on messages for future outreach campaigns, processing donations and tending to Association administrative activities.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, met with the Membership Committee, processed membership payments, and followed up on member inquiries. If you’re interested in joining the Membership Committee, send an email to [email protected] - you must be a member in good standing interested in helping grow our membership!

Stuck at Home for Awhile? Grab a Copy of Lonely Planet's ‘Amazing Train Journeys’ and Support Your Association at the Same Time

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!

Get Your Own ‘Rail Passengers’ Signature Federal Credit Union VISA Card!

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

San Joaquins Service Schedule Changes

Effective May 29 and 30, 2020

Please be advised that the San Joaquins service will operate on limited schedules until further notice. Additionally, track work performed by BNSF Railway will affect service on May 29 and 30.

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 May 29-30

  • Friday, May 29, 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, May 30, Train 711, which normally operates from Bakersfield to Oakland (Jack London Square), will originate at Wasco.

    • Amtrak Thruway Bus 5811 will provide 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.

Salt Lake City, UT, Station Depot Temporarily Closed

Effective May 15 and 16, 2020

Effective Friday and Saturday night, May 15 and 16, the Salt Lake City, UT, station depot is temporarily closed.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time. Please proceed around the building to the platform to board trains.

Please check Amtrak.com or the mobile app for the most up to date schedules.

Carolinian Trains 79 and 80 Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 Silver Star Trains 91 and 92 Silver Meteor Trains 97 and 98

Effective May 10 through June 2, 2020

Due to track work being performed by CSX, the following trains will be impacted:

Silver Star Trains 91 and 92, May 10 through June 2

  • Train 91, which normally operates between New York and Miami, will be cancelled on Monday through Thursday with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Train 91 will operate on its normal schedule Friday through Sunday.

  • Train 92, which normally operates between Miami and New York, will be cancelled Sunday through Wednesday with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Train 92 will operate on its normal schedule Thursday through Saturday.

Silver Meteor Trains 97 and 98, May 9 through 31

  • Train 97, which normally operates between New York and Miami, will be cancelled Friday through Sunday with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Train 97 will operate on its normal schedule Monday through Thursday.

  • Train 98, which normally operates between Miami and New York, will be cancelled Thursday through Saturday with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Train 98 will operate on its normal schedule Sunday through Wednesday.

Carolinian Trains 79 and 80, Monday through Thursday, May 4 through 31

  • Carolinian Trains 79 and 80 are cancelled through Sunday, May 17.

  • Beginning May 18, Carolinian Trains 79 and 80 will operate between Charlotte and Raleigh, only.

    • Trains are cancelled between New York and Raleigh, with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Amtrak Thruway Buses 6079 and 6080 are cancelled through May 31.

Palmetto Trains 89 and 90, Monday through Thursday, May 4 through 21

Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 will operate between New York and Washington, D.C., only. Trains are cancelled between Washington, D.C. and Savannah with no alternate transportation provided.

  • Trains will operate normally Friday through Sunday.

  • Amtrak Thruway Buses 6089, 6090, 6189 and 6190 are cancelled on same dates as Trains 89 and 90.

Track Work Affects Empire Builder Service

Effective Weekdays, May 12 - 27, 2020

Due to track work being performed by BNSF, Empire Builder service will be affected as described below:

Monday-Friday, May 12 through 27 (Except May 25)

  • Train 7 which normally operates between Chicago and Seattle, will terminate at Spokane. Alternate transportation will be provided to the missed station stops of Edmonds, Everett, Leavenworth, Wenatchee and Ephrata.

    • Bus 3007 will operate from Spokane to Seattle connecting with Train 7 at Spokane.

  • Train 8 which normally operates between Seattle and Chicago, will originate at Spokane. Alternate transportation will be provided to the missed station stops of Ephrata, Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Everett and Edmonds.

    • Bus 3008 will operate from Seattle to Spokane connecting with Train 8 at Spokane.

  • There will be no track work Saturdays, Sundays or Monday, May 25.

Washington, D.C., Union Station Boarding Changes

Effective May 4, 2020

For the safety of our customers and employees, and to promote physical distancing, Washington, D.C., Union Station will implement several boarding changes effective May 4.

Boarding Changes:

  • Priority boarding will be discontinued, and boarding times will be adjusted, to avoid lines and waiting in the station.

  • Passengers without checked baggage are advised to be at the station no more than 30 minutes prior to departure and passengers with checked baggage, no more than 60 minutes prior to departure.

  • Amtrak is limiting reservations to 50% of the available seats to ensure plenty of available seats.

  • Amtrak employees in stations and on board are required to wear facial coverings and customers are strongly encouraged to wear masks when using Amtrak services at this time.

  • Boarding will begin approximately 20 minutes prior to departure.

linian Trains 79 and 80 Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 Silver Star Trains 91 and 92

Effective May 4 through 28, 2020

Due to track work being performed by CSX, the following trains will be impacted.

Monday through Thursday, May 4 through 28 (except Monday, May 25)

  • Silver Star Train 91, which normally operates between New York and Miami, will be cancelled with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Train 91 will operate its normal schedule Friday through Sunday and Monday, May 25.

    • Train 92, which normally operates between Miami and New York, will be cancelled with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Train 92 will operate its normal schedule Thursday through Saturday, and Sunday May 24.

Monday through Thursday, May 18 through 28

  • Carolinian Trains 79 and 80 are cancelled through Sunday, May 17.

  • Beginning May 18, Carolinian Trains 79 and 80 will operate between Charlotte and Raleigh, only.

    • Trains are cancelled between New York and Raleigh, with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Trains will operate normally Friday through Sunday.

    • Amtrak Thruway Buses 6079 and 6080 are cancelled.

  • Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 will operate between New York and Washington, D.C., only. Trains are cancelled between Washington, D.C. and Savannah with no alternate transportation provided.

    • Trains will operate normally Friday through Sunday.

    • Amtrak Thruway Buses 6089, 6090, 6189 and 6190 are cancelled.

Please note: Trains 52, 53, 97 and 98 can expect up to 45-minute delays between Rocky Mount and Richmond, Monday through Thursday.

Temporary Station Changes Wilmington’s, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Station

Effective May 10, 2020

Effective May 10, Wilmington’s Joseph R. Biden, Jr., station will reduce the number of entrances and modify station hours, until further notice.

Station Changes:

  • Station entrances will be reduced to the accessible entrance at the corner of French and Front Streets.

  • Facial coverings are required when in the station per Delaware State Ordinance.

  • The station will be closed between 12:00 am and 5:45 am, to all non-Amtrak personnel, in order to clean and disinfect for our riders and employees.

  • Faber store is closed.

  • Restrooms are closed to the public

  • SEPTA/DART ticket office is closed. Tickets may be purchased on the train.

  • Only ticketed passengers, or those wishing to purchase tickets, are permitted inside the station during this time. SEPTA passengers needing to purchase a ticket can come into the station approximately 15 minutes prior to train departure.

Temporary Station Changes Milwaukee Downtown Station

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Milwaukee Downtown station will reduce ticket office hours and implement various station changes, until further notice.

Station Changes:

  • The ticket office will be open 5:30 am to 8:00 pm.

  • Station entrances will be reduced to the west end door, only.

  • The station will be closed between 10:00 pm and 5:15 am, to all non-Amtrak personnel, in order to clean and disinfect for our riders and employees.

  • Only ticketed passengers, or those wishing to purchase tickets, are permitted inside the station during this time.

Amtrak Thruway Buses Temporarily Replace Hiawatha Trains

Between Milwaukee and Chicago

Effective Friday, April 24, 2020

In response to lower ridership demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amtrak, in partnership with the Wisconsin and Illinois state transportation departments, will temporarily substitute daily Amtrak Thruway Buses for Amtrak Hiawatha Service trains between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Effective Friday, April 24, Bus 3332 will operate in place of Hiawatha Service Trains 330 and 332. The bus will originate at the downtown Milwaukee Intermodal Station at 7:55 a.m. and arrive at Chicago Union Station at 9:54 a.m. Also effective that day, Bus 3339 will operate in place of Hiawatha Service Train 339, originating in Chicago at 5:00 p.m. and arriving at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station at 6:59 p.m. All times local.

These buses will serve all Amtrak stations on the Hiawatha Service corridor except Glenview, Ill. The Amtrak Empire Builder serves Glenview and will continue to also temporarily provide daily service at all other Hiawatha stations. Full schedules are on the Amtrak Passenger Service Notice.

Reservations will be required in order to maintain social distancing for seating on Buses 3332 & 3339. Amtrak customers traveling with current monthly and 10-ride tickets are welcome without reservations.

Customers are strongly encouraged now to wear masks while using all Amtrak services. The bus operator will wear a facial covering while interacting with customers and the buses will be thoroughly cleaned between trips. More information about safe essential travel is at Amtrak.com.

The Thruway Bus service substitution will be in effect through Monday, May 25. Hiawatha train service is expected to resume on Tuesday, May 26. These ADA-accessible motor coaches offer passengers many of the same features as our trains including Wi-Fi service, reclining seats, ample legroom, tables, cupholders and lavatories.

Station Elevator Out of Service Downtown Riverside, CA, Station

Effective Immediately

The elevator located inside the Riverside, CA, station is out of service for approximately 6 weeks.

Trains 3 and 4 arrive and depart from the East platform which can be accessed at ground level via Commerce Street, address below:

3801 Commerce Street Riverside, CA 92507

The pedestrian bridge is still available from the normal access point of 4066 Vine Street. The nearest station with an accessible elevator is San Bernardino, approximately 10 miles away.

Allow Extra Time – Don’t Miss Your Train Customers using the pedestrian bridge may need to allow extra time to get to the boarding platform.

Warrensburg, MO, Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Warrensburg, MO, 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.

Rather than waiting for trains outdoors, please use the Amtrak app or other means to check train status while waiting in a personal vehicle.

Centralia, IL, Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Centralia, 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.

Rather than waiting for trains outdoors, please use the Amtrak app or other means to check train status while waiting in a personal vehicle.

Wolverine Trains 351 and 352 Blue Water Trains 364 and 365

Effective April 27, 2020

Due to track work being performed by Amtrak, and Norfolk Southern, Wolverine and Blue Water Service will be affected, as follows:

Blue Water Trains 364 and 365

  • Train 364 will arrive at Port Huron 28 minutes later at 11:59 pm.

  • Train 365 will depart Port Huron 28 minutes earlier, at 5:52 am, arriving at Chicago 17 minutes later at 12:02 pm.

Wolverine Service

  • Train 351 will depart Pontiac 38 minutes earlier at 5:12 am, arriving in Chicago at the scheduled time of 10:32 am.

  • Train 352 will depart Chicago 30 minutes earlier at 12:55 pm, arriving at Pontiac 7 minutes later at 8:39 pm.

Thruway Service Changes Sunset Empire Bus Terminal in Astoria Temporarily Closed

Effective April 27 through May 31, 2020

Attention Amtrak Passengers: Amtrak Thruway Service between Portland and Astoria will be reduced, effective April 27 through May 31. The Sunset Empire Bus Terminal in Astoria is temporarily closed.

Thruway Schedules Reduced

  • Buses 5500 and 5565 are suspended

  • Buses 5563 and 5564 will continue to run, offering two round trips daily from Portland to Astoria.

Illini Train 393 Departs 30 Minutes Earlier

Effective Fridays, April 24 - May 22, 2020

Due to track work being performed by Canadian National Railway, Train 393 will operate 30 minutes earlier Fridays, April 24 through May 22.

Train 393 will operate on its normal schedule Saturday through Thursday, as shown.

Illini Train 393 Temporary Schedule

April 24 through May 22, 2020



Sat - Thur

Chicago, IL




Homewood, IL



Kankakee, IL



Gilman, IL



Rantoul, IL



Champaign Urbana, IL



Mattoon, IL



Effingham, IL



Centralia, IL



Du Quoin, IL



Carbondale, IL




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.

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.

Travel Tip of the Week

Delivering new travel standards, Amtrak strengthens commitment to customer and employee safety

In an effort to simplify and safeguard the travel experience as America gradually reopens, Amtrak wants to reassure customers that several added cleanliness and convenience measures have been implemented.

While some routes have been reduced or suspended, Amtrak has and will continue to operate as an essential service. On the Northeast Corridor, Acela will resume on a reduced schedule starting June 1 and other trains will return to service by monitoring demand and working with state partners to prioritize safety.

Amtrak and train travel will lead the way and set a new standard of transportation. While continuing to leverage a full-time medical director and public health and safety teams who have been on the front lines throughout the COVID-19 outbreak providing expert counsel, Amtrak has implemented the following measures:

When you book:

  • Trip flexibility: Amtrak is waiving all change and cancellation fees for reservations made by August 31, 2020. This includes reservations booked with points.

  • Limiting bookings: Amtrak is limiting ticket sales to 50% of each train’s seat capacity to allow for physical distancing while traveling.

  • Private rooms: Private rooms are offered on many national network trains; for both short and long distance trips, sleeping cars provide extra space, comfort and privacy.

Enhanced station procedures:

  • Enhanced cleaning: Amtrak has enhanced cleaning and disinfecting frequency and retrofitted protective barriers where necessary. Commonly used surfaces in stations such as door handles, counter tops, seating areas and Quik-Trak kiosks are frequently cleaned with EPA-approved and CDC-endorsed disinfectants.

  • Physical distancing: Signage has been displayed at our busiest stations to indicate safe distances in high traffic areas. In addition, clear protective barriers have been installed at customer counters at our busiest stations.

  • Facial coverings: Amtrak is requiring all customers and employees to wear facial coverings while in stations.

  • Preventing overcrowding: Except for the Auto Train, customers are encouraged to arrive only 30 minutes before departure and only 60 minutes if in need of ticketing and/or baggage assistance.

Contact-free travel experience:

  • Cashless service: Amtrak is accepting cashless payments only.

  • Seamless gate service: To reduce crowds at departure boards, Amtrak app users can now receive gate and track information via push notification at select stations.

  • Contactless ticketing: Amtrak encourages boarding with eTickets, which conductors scan from the Amtrak app.


  • Facial coverings: Amtrak is requiring all customers and employees to wear facial coverings while on trains or thruway buses. Facial coverings can be removed when customers are in their private rooms or seated alone.

  • Enhanced cleaning: Amtrak has amplified the cleaning of our trains, to include fogging, a sanitization method that disinfects surface areas and is highly effective and safe. Following the fogging process, highly touched surfaces including tray tables, seats and restrooms are thoroughly sanitized.

  • Limiting bookings: Amtrak is limiting ticket sales to 50% of seat capacity, with customers encouraged to use the seat next to them for personal belongings.

  • Reducing exposure: All non-safety materials have been removed from seatback pockets.

  • Handwashing available: Available in each car’s restroom, Amtrak strongly encourages washing hands thoroughly with soap and water.

  • Contactless movement onboard: To move between cars, customers can use an “automatic door open” button with their foot.

  • Upon arrival: When the train is approaching a destination, conductors will make announcements regarding where and when customers can disembark to minimize crowding at the door.

Food & beverage:

  • Café service: Effective May 20, café service aboard Amtrak trains will be offered as carryout only. Seating in the café will be closed. Customers can bring items back to their seats or private rooms.

  • Flexible dining: Amtrak is temporarily offering flexible dining service in the dining or lounge car on all long-distance routes (except Auto Train) and encouraging Sleeping Car customers to select optional room service.

  • Dining and lounge seating: Dining and lounge seating will remain available on select long distance routes with physical distancing protocols in place.

  • Physical distancing: For customers placing orders in the cafe, signage and markers promoting physical distancing leading up to the café counter have been added.

  • Protective barriers: For added protection, sneeze guards are being installed at café countertops.

  • Cashless service: Amtrak is accepting cashless payments only.

Giving back:

Amtrak continues to evaluate current practices and launch new initiatives to support personal safety. For more information, follow Amtrak on social media, subscribe to Amtrak email notifications and visit Amtrak.com/coronavirus to stay updated on the latest news and important information on our services.

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.