Happening Now

Hotline #1,169

May 29, 2020

Rail news for the week ending May 29th

D.C. Office Closed, Rail Passengers Staff Working Remotely.

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


The June Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.

Click here to read the digital version.

Rail Passengers, Congress Critical of Amtrak Request for Emergency Coronavirus Funding

In a letter sent to Congressional leaders earlier this week, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn shared the full extent to which Amtrak ridership and revenue are down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flynn went on to outline a supplemental request for an additional $1.475 billion in funding, while slashing train frequencies and laying off 20% of its workforce.

After taking time to carefully review the proposal and share information with Congressional allies and other stakeholder groups, Rail Passengers is organizing a campaign to secure additional funding for Amtrak with statutory conditions put in place to protect Amtrak workers and maintain sustainable levels of service for the whole network.

“Let's be very clear: while Rail Passengers strongly supports the need to get Amtrak through this crisis with additional funds, any additional funds need to buy certainty for workers and passengers alike,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “Daily train service must be the very minimum service level. We're already working with Congress to get this done, but we need your help to make sure that Amtrak has enough funds to maintain the necessary workforce to fully restore service once demand for travel recovers, and to run all National Network long-distance trains at least daily.”

Write your members of Congress today supporting Amtrak’s workers and daily service!

The request has already generated opposition from key leadership in Congress. Rep. Dan Lipinski, Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads—and recipient of this year’s Rail Passengers Association Golden Spike—issued a condemnation of the plan, which we are reprinting in full:

“Reports that Amtrak will eliminate up to 20% of its workforce after assurances to the contrary are extremely concerning. This action appears to suggest a continuation of a pattern of misleading statements and mistreatment of workers by Amtrak in recent years. While it is understandable that Amtrak needs additional funding and service flexibility given steep declines in ridership during this crisis, Congress has provided financial assistance to mitigate changes to staffing. After receiving over $1 billion in CARES Act funding, it was my understanding that Amtrak did not plan to furlough any workers due to COVID-19. There are now reports that Amtrak intends to make dramatic cuts to its workforce. It is imperative that Amtrak reverse course with this pattern of disingenuous actions and instead work to be more forthcoming and transparent with Congress and its employees.

“As Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, I have held Amtrak to account for its mistreatment of workers on numerous occasions, including the elimination of call center employees that Amtrak said were no longer needed due to a drop in call volume whom subsequently were replaced by contract workers doing the same work. Given these latest reports about the planned elimination of one-in-five Amtrak employees, recently named Amtrak CEO William Flynn needs to provide a clear explanation of the railroad’s future plans. Mr. Flynn has an opportunity to change the direction Amtrak leadership has pursued in recent years and instead start building a culture of trust and respect within the organization. These workers are essential to providing passengers with the quality of service needed to restore ridership and strengthen Amtrak’s passenger rail service into the future. In April, Mr. Flynn described these employees as the foundation of Amtrak’s success. Attempts to rebuild Amtrak without that foundation in place are almost certain to fail.”

There is still uncertainty in the plan, and Rail Passengers endorses Chairman Lipinski’s call for more details. Key questions that must be answered include:

  • How does Amtrak plan to restore service to pre-COVID levels with the elimination of one in five workers?

  • What service levels are envisioned for long-distance trains (every other day / five days per week / three days per week)?

  • What savings are projected from running less than daily, what are the costs of maintaining daily service, and what reductions in revenue are projected from eliminating daily service and the associated connections?

  • What threshold of ridership will trigger full restoration, how will reduced ridership from fewer frequencies inform that decision, and what unique costs will be associated with service restoration?

Absent meaningful responses to these questions, Rail Passengers Association is supporting a request of at least $1.5 billion in supplemental funding for Amtrak in FY2021 (for a total of $3.54 billion in funding) on the condition that clear protections for passengers and workers are put in place.

Congress must ensure that Amtrak:

  • Uses this public funding to prevent the mass elimination of jobs;

  • Maintains the minimum acceptable level of daily service for long-distance trains;

  • Provides a concrete plan to return service to pre-COVID levels when the pandemic passes.

This is an issue that affects not only passengers from all regions of the country, but the very people who run the trains we so passionately want to protect and maintain.

Write your members of Congress today

Rail Passengers’ Advocacy Webinar Draws Hundreds For Inside Look At Recovery, Next Generation Legislation

Thank you to the hundreds of like-minded passengers and fellow advocates who were able to join us this week for our National Briefing Webinar. It was a wonderful event that highlighted an important discussion on where transit and transportation goes from here as we approach the "new normal", our policy responses to the coronavirus relief funding bills, as well as the one-on-one chat between Rail Passengers President & CEO Jim Mathews and Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

A number of questions were asked in the chat during the webinar and, due to time constraints, we could not get to them all. The DC staff was able to save a selection of those questions to answer. You will find those here. If you have any further questions, please contact us.

If you were not able to make it, have no fear. We are including a PDF version of the slide presentation as well as a link to our YouTube channel where you can watch the full event.

As the oldest and largest national organization serving as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the U.S., we strive to provide the tools you need to advocate for yourself and your community at the local, state, and federal levels. As a small charitable organization, the Rail Passengers Association relies on the generosity of others and we hope you consider supporting us. DONATE TODAY to amplify your voice!

If you are not yet already, please consider supporting us long-term by becoming a member of the Rail Passengers Association.

We hope that you will all join us for our next virtual event on June 24th, as we highlight the work being done in the Front Range of Colorado and Wyoming plus our Mountains & Plains region. Rail Passengers will also welcome another guest speaker.

Make Your Voice Heard

Joe Aiello
Field Coordinator
[email protected]

Texas, California High-Speed Rail Projects Make Progress This Week As Environmental Impact Statements Are Published

Both the Texas Central and California high-speed rail projects hit significant milestones this week, with the issuance of environmental-impact statements (EISs) that will soon clear the way for work to begin.

The Federal Railroad Administration today released the Final EIS for the Texas Central project, confirming its 2017 conclusion in a Draft EIS that Build Alternative A is the preferred alignment for the route crossing ten counties between Dallas and Houston. FRA found no red flags that could stop the project, although it uncovered a small number of homes and businesses that Texas Central will have to compensate for relocation or disruption -- 12 businesses and 49 homes across the entire 240-mile route.

On the other hand, the study also found that having the train would shift 26% of travelers off the roads and 2% out of airplanes, while generating billions of dollars in economic benefit for the communities along the route. Property values would also likely increase, and greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately be reduced.

“In addition to impacts from land acquisitions, the improvements constructed under the Project would generate tax revenue for the jurisdictions in which they would be located. The property premium around station areas would also generate property tax revenue, providing an additional benefit to the taxing jurisdictions,” FRA concluded.

The EIS contemplates some $14 billion in extra economic benefit to the region between the beginning of construction and 2040, and sustained increases in employment and earnings in the served counties. Property and sales tax revenues would increase as well, an estimated $7.8 million each year. This would “be beneficial to local jurisdictions and these additional resources would benefit schools, libraries, parks, municipal utilities, hospitals and emergency services that are funded through property taxes.”

Although the EIS itself is complete, there remains work required to carry out a program to identify and preserve historically significant sites. FRA posted that proposed program for public comment.

In California, the California High-Speed Rail Authority released a draft of its Tier II environmental impact study (EIS) for the proposed Burbank to Los Angeles segment of the system, identifying a preferred alternative that includes a new station near the Hollywood Burbank Airport, modifications at Los Angeles Union Station to raise passenger platforms and install the required overhead catenary power system, new electrified tracks shared with Metrolink and Amtrak within the existing railroad corridor, a tunnel under the Hollywood Burbank Airport (Runway 8-26, Taxiway D, and the proposed extended Taxiway C), and traction power facilities.

The official comment period for the draft on the Burbank-Los Angeles segment began today and ends Thursday, July 16, 2020. The Authority plans to hold a public open house online and via telephone on June 18, 2020 from 5:00-7:30 p.m. Pacific time, and a public hearing -- again, online and via telephone -- on July 8, 2020 from 3:00-8:00 p.m Pacific time. Comments can be filed online, as well as by mail or email.

Senator Markey Unveils Grade Crossing Safety Bill

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) announced the filing of the Warren Cowles Grade Crossing Safety Act on May 23rd, designed to increase safety for passengers and railroad-served communities through increased funding for the installation of grade separations, railroad crossing signals, gates, lights, and other barriers or cautionary signage at grade crossings nationwide. The legislation is named in honor of Warren Cowles, a Bay Stater who was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in 2017 in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

“It has been three years since Warren Cowles’ tragic death,” said Senator Markey. “His accident was the seventh collision and fifth fatality at the Longmeadow crossing since 1975, making it the deadliest grade crossing in Massachusetts—a distinction that no community should have to suffer. I am proud to have helped the residents of Longmeadow address the safety issues at their particular crossing, but we must do more to honor Warren’s memory. That’s why I am introducing new legislation that will increase grade crossing safety across the country and make sure we are preventing these accidents everywhere we can.”

While passenger rail is an exceptionally safe mode of travel, grade crossings without the proper infrastructure can pose a significant threat to communities bisected by rail lines; nationally, one third of all rail-related fatalities occur at grade crossings. Senator Markey, who is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, is looking to increase funding for grade crossing improvement projects to $250 million each year.

“This bill will improve safety for train passengers, for drivers, and for pedestrians in the communities served by rail lines,” said Jim Mathews, President of the Rail Passengers Association. “Not only will it make existing train service safer, by upgrading highway-rail grade crossings it will make America’s intercity and commuter rail systems more efficient and increase capacity. Commuter and intercity rail travel is 18 times safer than driving a car in metropolitan areas, and the best way to make our transportation network safer is to allow more people to choose transit. We thank Senator Markey for his leadership on this issue.”

The Senate is scheduled to release its draft surface transportation rail title later this summer. Rail Passengers will work to ensure that Senator Markey’s bill is part of the final bill.

Federal Railroad Administration Announces ‘State of Good Repair’ Grants

In an effort to help to spur the economy while rebuilding infrastructure across the country, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that they would be awarding over $300 million in grants through the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. This program funds repairing or replacing public or Amtrak owned/controlled assets such as “track, switches, bridges, passenger stations, and highway-rail grade crossings; and equipment, including passenger cars” in order to improve the performance or intercity passenger rail.

“This $302.6 million federal investment will upgrade rail infrastructure and enhance safety on the tracks and at railroad crossings in rural and urban communities across America,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The list of projects receiving funding include:

  • $6,750,00 for Four Rural Rail Bridges/ Rehabilitation and Scour Mitigation in California

  • $12,482,600 for Milwaukee North Line Interlocking Improvement in Illinois

  • $6,521,957 for Kalamazoo-Dearborn Track and Signal Infrastructure Reliability Improvement Projects in Michigan
    $55,100,000 for the Portal North Bridge Project in New Jersey

  • $80,000,000 for Piedmont Intercity Fleet & Infrastructure Investments Project in North Carolina

You can see the entire project list and read the press release here

Virgin Trains USA Could Operate Miami-Dade Coastal Commuter Service

Brightline operator Virgin Trains USA is moving ahead with a proposal to build and operate a separate coastal commuter service in Miami-Dade County as an alternative to long-stalled plans for the existing commuter operator -- Tri-Rail -- to operate that service on what is now Brightline’s right of way.

Apparently side-stepping the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Miami-Dade and Virgin are talking about an arrangement that would give Miami-Dade a new rail service with stops in Wynwood, the Design District, El Portal, North Miami and the Biscayne Bay campus of Florida International University before reaching Aventura.

In the company’s commuter proposal, Virgin Trains will spend $75 million building platforms that could be used to launch service while the county would pay some $350 million to build five new stations linked to the new Miami-Central Station where Brightline now operates. If the County and Virgin can reach a deal, it would complete the Northeast Corridor component of a 2016 transit initiative called the SMART Plan, which stands for Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit.

Miami-Dade would also pay Virgin $29 million per year to lease the tracks and right-of-way, along with anywhere from $30 million to $50 million per year in operating costs and $2 million annually to lease the trainsets.

Reeling from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, Virgin Trains USA continues to contemplate how long it will take to restore Brightline express train service between Miami and West Palm Beach in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, however, the company is pushing on with long-term plans to finish its expansion north to Orlando and further west to Tampa, as well as moving forward with its plans to link Southern California and Las Vegas, Nev.

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 a series of 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.

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

Member & Donor Notices

  • We are unable to provide permanent membership cards or membership/benefits information while the Rail Passengers staff is working remotely. 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.

  • Make sure you’ve marked the amount of your donation/membership, the card’s expiration date and your card’s CVV number on your renewal form. Without that information your payment/donation cannot be processed. The information on the form helps us allocate your contribution.

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

  • Mailed copies of ‘thank you’ letters are a challenge while the Rail Passengers staff is working remotely. 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!

  • 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.


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

A fantastic week overall for our social media team. Highlighted topics include our first Webinar, Acela testing, infrastructure projects and many more exciting stories.

Top Comment of the Week:

“It’s wonderful to see RPA making sure we can all ride again. Thank you all for this campaign”

  • Cee Blandenchek

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, worked behind the scenes with congressional leaders, stakeholders and Amtrak to come up with support plans that would maintain minimum Amtrak service during the coronavirus-driven downturn. He also hosted an advocacy webinar outlining a game plan for rail supporters in the weeks and months ahead, welcoming Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) as a special guest to share his vision for new ways of thinking about modern passenger rail in the U.S. Jim capped a very busy week working with the Federal Railroad Administration to pull together an interdisciplinary group of physicians, engineers and safety professionals across academia, federal regulators and operators such as Amtrak and commuter rail, focused on decontamination strategies to ensure a level of coronavirus safety that would encourage passengers to return to the rails and public transportation.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, managed the creation and delivery of Rail Passengers May 27th National Briefing on levels of service and rail policy. He also led analysis of the Amtrak FY2021 supplemental funding request, and coordinated with dozens of Senate and House offices in a campaign to protect Amtrak workers and daily service on the National Network.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director, Customer Programs, used the week to further engage ACAC and Rail Passengers members to participate in and recruit for RPFocus. Carolyn also spent the week connecting/reconnecting with stakeholders interested in bringing Station Volunteers to their cities.

  • Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, continued the field & policy team’s advocacy outreach on a number of fronts this week. Joe took part in the National Briefing Webinar, helped craft the Rail Passengers Action Alert in response to Amtrak’s FY2021 supplemental funding request, and continued to assist Madi Butler on our online communication with members and fellow advocates around the country.

  • Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, helped produce our first webinar, and has been providing online support to members and sponsors looking to become more involved in future webinar events.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week processing membership and donation payments, assisting donors, writing new outreach messages and addressing Association administrative activities.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, spent the week taking member calls/emails, supporting the webinar, processing payments, and working with the Membership Subcommittee on strategic planning for the upcoming year.

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

Pacific Surfliner and Amtrak Thruway bus service will resume some service,

on a reduced schedule effective Monday, June 1

Train Service Changes:

Three trains in each direction will operate north of Los Angeles. Two will end in Santa Barbara/Goleta and one will extend up to San Luis Obispo. Thruway bus service will provide supplemental departure options connecting trains in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.


  • Beginning June 2, Train 774 will operate from San Luis Obispo instead of Los Angeles.

  • Thruway bus connections will be retimed to improve spacing of departure options and shorten layovers.

    • Two bus trips will operate between Oakland to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. One bus trip will operate between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

  • Trains 562, 566/1566, 572/1572, 578, 590/1590, 782 and 792 remain canceled.


  • Train 777 will terminate in San Luis Obispo instead of Goleta.

  • Train 785 will terminate in Goleta instead of Los Angeles.

  • Thruway bus connections will be retimed to improve spacing of departure options and shorten layovers.

    • One bus trip will operate between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and two bus trips will operate between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo to Oakland.

  • Trains 561/1761, 565/1565, 569/1569, 573/1573, 583, 591/1591, 595 and 759 remain canceled.

The Coastal Starlight, the long-distance Amtrak train, will continue to operate one trip daily through San Luis Obispo.

Amtrak requires all passengers to wear face coverings at stations and on trains.

Hiawatha Service Resumes Operation Reservations Required

Effective June 1, 2020

Effective June 1, Hiawatha trains will resume service on a modified schedule and reservations will be required.

Hiawatha Trains 332 and 339:

Will restore a round trip between Milwaukee and Chicago in response to anticipated increased demand. Empire Builder Trains 7/27 and 8/28 will continue service at all Hiawatha stops to provide morning and afternoon departures daily.

Safety Precautions:

  • Disinfecting stations and trains aggressively

  • Facial coverings are required for all customers in stations and on trains and thruway buses

  • Temporarily only accepting cashless payments

  • Reservations are temporarily required to maintain physical distancing, excluding holders of Multi-Ride tickets.

Olympia-Lacey, Station Waiting Room Hours Temporarily Modified

Effective June 1, 2020

Effective June 1, the Olympia-Lacey station waiting room will re-open with modified hours.

Station Changes:

  • Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

  • If Coast Starlight Train 14 is late, the station will remain open until its arrival.

  • Hours may change based on service adjustments.

Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian Operation Resumes

Reservations Required

Effective June 1, 2020

Effective June 1, Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian trains will resume service on a modified schedule and reservations will be required.

Keystone Service: Modified service will include nine weekly roundtrips and six roundtrips on weekends, operating temporarily between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, only.

Pennsylvanian: Modified service will include one daily roundtrip operating normally between New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Safety Precautions:

  • Disinfecting stations and trains aggressively

  • Facial coverings are required for all customers in stations and on trains and thruway buses

  • Temporarily only accepting cashless payments

  • Reservations are temporarily required to maintain physical distancing, excluding holders of Monthly and 10-trip tickets.

Temple, TX, Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective May 22, 2020

The Temple, TX, station waiting room is temporarily closed on May 22. 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 and there will be no checked baggage on this day.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Travel Tip of the Week


Amtrak introduces activity center to provide kids with educational activities

Amtrak is encouraging kids to learn more about trains and train transportation.

This week the Amtrak Activity Center debuted their educational train-related activity portal. The purpose is to teach children about railroads, geography, and safety while inspiring future train travel. The games are for kids in kindergarten to 5th grade and offer educational and train-related activities to assist learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, through the following activities:

New activities and categories, such as railroad safety and Amtrak sustainability facts and initiatives, will be added every few weeks.

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.