March 6, 2020
Rail news for the week ending March 6th
The March Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.
Click here to read the digital version.
Amtrak Announces New CEO as Anderson Reaches End of Three-Year Agreement
Amtrak named William Flynn as its next President and Chief Executive Officer on March 1st, succeeding current CEO Richard Anderson. Flynn most recently headed Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc., and has held senior roles with CSX Transportation and other transportation companies.
Flynn will assume his Amtrak duties on April 15, 2020, with Anderson staying on as a senior advisor to Flynn through the end of the year much as former Norfolk Southern chief Wick Moorman eased Anderson's transition to Amtrak before him.
Amtrak is entering an important period for the company and for American passenger rail. Several mission-critical projects are waiting to begin construction, and Congress right now is in the process of drafting the next surface transportation reauthorization -- the transportation blueprint for the country for the next five years.
"Amtrak has just released an exciting budget request to Congress that outlines a vision for growth across its network, and we pledge to work with Mr. Flynn to ensure that Congress provides the funds Amtrak needs to provide modern, efficient passenger train service to all Americans," said Jim Mathews, President & CEO of Rail Passengers. "Over our association’s 50-plus years we’ve enjoyed productive relationships with Amtrak’s leadership, and we look forward to continuing that tradition with Mr. Flynn."
Mathews also invited Flynn to take full advantage of Amtrak’s National Network to see the incredible diversity in the backgrounds of his customers, and to get a close-up look at the unique challenges and opportunities in the more than 500 communities the railroad serves.
‘Thank You’ Illinois Passengers!
Last week we asked our members in Illinois to make their voices heard in the fight to ensure on-time service for Amtrak passengers, and they delivered!
During a March 3rd hearing in the Illinois House Transportation committee, state legislators considered whether to endorse HR 0751, a resolution to support the Rail Passenger Fairness Act and help end delays to Amtrak trains. Thanks to YOUR actions, the committee recommended the bill be adopted and moved it to the full House!
This is a victory for grassroots action, and it came in the face of organized opposition to the bill from powerful special interests—including CN, UP, and the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois.
Thank you for standing up to ensure passengers are treated fairly!
Preparing for Passenger Rail Day on the Hill
We’ve updated our Feb. Policy and Campaign briefing site with a video recording of the presentation.
The briefing also covered some simple steps you can take NOW to ensure a successful Rail Passengers Day on the Hill, taking place March 31st:
1.) Ask your House Representative to Support Strong Funding in FY2021
Ask you Representative to sign-on to the FY2021 House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee “Dear Colleague” letter led by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), which calls for full funding of Amtrak and passenger rail grant programs
Reach out to your Representative to identify any key passenger rail or transit projects which would benefit from federal Amtrak or rail grant funding
2.) Share Our Briefing Documents With Your Elected Officials
Go to RailPassengers.org/RailNation2020 to find our library of 2020 advocacy material. Once you have them, send them to your elected officials once you've asked them to fully fund Amtrak in FY2021 (step 1).
We will update these with specific issue briefs closer to our Day on the Hill, so make sure to check back.
3.) Begin Scheduling Your RailNationDC:2020 Meetings
We've provided an easy "How To" guide excerpted from "A Beginner's Guide to RPA Day on the Hill," written by Association Vice-Chair T.J. Girsch. This will help walk you through the process of setting up a meeting for our national Rail Passengers Day on the Hill -- whether it's here in D.C., or over the phone with a Congressional staffer who works in the district. Just head over to RailPassengers.org/RailNation2020 for all the details.
And remember: let us know when you schedule meetings with our easy-to-use Day on the Hill Meeting Submission Form!
Join the Rail Passengers Association in Washington, D.C. for our annual Spring advocacy summit (March 29th – April 1st) where we’ll discuss the challenges and solutions to building a better American rail system. With the surface transportation reauthorization kicking into gear, advocates have a unique opportunity to bring about real change. The integrity of the National Network is paramount to the sustainability of communities across the country.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER
Our Summit officially kicks off on Monday, March 30th with a number of outstanding panels, speakers, a hands-on advocacy workshop, plus committee & regional meetings. Some of the highlights include:
Briefing and preparation for Tuesday's Day on the Hill
An On-Time Performance panel featuring Amtrak's Christopher Zappi
Virginia's bold new investment plans with VHSR’s Danny Plaugher
SEPTA's Jay Fox joining us for a session on Public Transportation.
Luncheon Keynote Speaker will be Joe McHugh from Amtrak
Presentation of the Association's Jack Martin Awards
Rail Passengers Join Senator Blumenthal, Reps. Lamb and Heck to Restore Legal Rights for Amtrak Passengers
This week, Rail Passengers Association joined U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Denny Heck (D-WA) to unveil legislation to restore legal rights and protections to Amtrak riders, rolling back forced arbitration provisions introduced by the railroad last year.
Amtrak implemented its forced arbitration and class action ban policy last January, specifically writing it to be “as broad as legally permissible,” including discrimination and any personal injury claims. The policy also includes passengers who have tickets bought for them, including minors. The company put the policy in place after incidents like the 2015 train derailment in Philadelphia and the 2017 derailment in Washington State, which resulted in multi-million dollar settlements for the victims. If a similar incident were to happen today, passengers would not be able to file lawsuits.
“The Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act will put Amtrak on the right track and ensure the traveling public is legally protected,” said Blumenthal. “Amtrak’s current forced arbitration and class action ban policy is simply unfair. Riders unwittingly sign away vital legal rights with the purchase of a ticket. If the worst happens, they are left without legal recourse. This is unacceptable. We must restore consumers’ access to justice and public accountability.”
“For millions of Americans, Amtrak is an essential means of transportation,” said Jim Mathews, President & CEO of the Rail Passengers Association. “Whether they live in rural America, a mid-sized city that lost its airport, or on the Northeast Corridor, these passengers rely on Amtrak service to go about their lives and forced arbitration isn’t the right policy. Our members thank Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. Lamb for introducing the Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act, which ensures passengers access to a fair process for dispute resolution. We encourage Amtrak to listen to the message Congress is sending and focus on its mission to expand reliable, frequent passenger rail service to more Americans.”
The Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act is co-sponsored by Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). You can read more about it here.
House Transportation Committee Holds Hearing on Funding a Robust Passenger Rail Network
The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure met March 3rd to discuss funding for passenger rail and Amtrak in the coming surface transportation reauthorization. And for once, as a result of the House Democrat infrastructure proposal that would invest $11 billion in passenger rail over the course of five years, the question was not whether we should increase investment in rail, but how could that money be best spent.
Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner spoke to the committee about how Amtrak would spend additional funds, discussing Amtrak’s new proposal for a corridor development program, which would give Amtrak $300 million a year to launch new state-supported services, funding the initial infrastructure costs and help states cover operating costs for the first five years. He also highlighted the pressing need for more equipment on state-supported corridors.
“The most immediate investment need on our state-supported routes is new equipment,” testified Gardner. “In January 2019, we issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for 75 new trainsets (or railcar equivalents) to replace the 458 Amfleet I cars, as well as 16 of the original Metroliner railcars built a half century ago and the five Talgo VI trainsets operated on the Amtrak Cascades service in the Pacific Northwest. The RFP also called for options for up to 50 additional trainsets to provide equipment for new or additional short distance services.”
Gardner also spoke about the critical equipment needs of the long-distance network, highlighting not just the $577 million federal grant request for equipment refurbishment and acquisition in Amtrak’s FY2021 budget request, but the work already underway.
“Two long distance equipment procurements are currently underway,” Gardner told the Committee. “In December 2018, we awarded an $850 million contract for 75 new ALC-42 diesel locomotives, which we plan to use primarily to replace some of the P42s operating on long distance trains. These units are being funded with cash reserves and our National Network grant. During 2020, we also expect to receive the last of the long delayed 130 single level Viewliner II cars we ordered in 2010 that replaced the last of the 60-70-year-old passenger cars Amtrak inherited when it took over operations from private railroads in 1971.”
Mayor Sandra Bury of Oak Lawn, Illinois struck a note of caution, saying increased funding wouldn’t be a cure-all. She told Chairman Dan Lipinski (D-IL) of the challenges her community faced in securing additional frequencies from host railroads.
“More weekend service or additional weekday service requires the cooperation of the freight railroads,” testified Mayor Bury. “It has been a frustrating and drawn-out process to get them to agree to more service. There must be a better way to add the commuter rail service that our communities need and I hope that Congress can address this issue. Freight railroads must also commit to being community partners and maintain their crossings, bridges and property to acceptable standards, which is not currently done.”
Connecticut Gets Federal Funds For Windsor Locks Station
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced last week that CTDOT will be receiving a $17.4M FRA grant to build a new station in Windsor Locks for the Hartford Line through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. The station will be part of an overall transit-oriented development project that will bring together residential, commercial, and retail opportunities. The grant will also cover grade crossing improvements and track & signal upgrades.
Leaders In Maryland Seek To Expand MARC Service To DC, Virginia
Business leaders and local transit advocates in Maryland have joined with a number of elected officials to support a pilot program that would extend the reach of MARC trains further into Washington DC and Northern Virginia. Supporters of House Bill 1236 testified this week in front of the House Environment and Transportation Committee at the Maryland State House in Annapolis and the arguments ranged from the need for “single seat” rides through Union Station to keeping Mayland competitive with their regional neighbors.
State Delegate Jared Solomon, one of the bills sponsors, stated that this proposed service expansion would not only help with the Maryland economy but it would also “help maximize the potential of our MARC commuter rail system”. Brotherhood of Local Engineers and Trainmen representative Herbert Harris also remarked on ways this bill could help MARC service overall and called it a “baby step” to unlocking where Maryland’s rail transit system ultimately should be.
New Study Promises New Life For Lackawanna Cutoff Project
A new study spearheaded by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) puts the cost to restore rail links between Scranton and New York City 48% lower than a 2006 study that scared off some officials contemplating supporting it.
The proposed Lackawanna Cutoff passenger-rail service would link eight communities in six counties across Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the booming New York City economy. The new Lackawanna Cutoff Restoration Commuter Rail Study judges the cost at $288.93 million, far lower than the 2006 finding of $551 million, partly by excluding costs for new stations and a maintenance facility that drove costs higher in the previous study.
“I set about dispelling the fears that it would be that much money,” Cartwright said in an account published on the Access NEPA blog. “What’s going to sell it is it’s not scary expensive.”
Another thing that would sell it is an honest assessment of the overall benefits. Combining the effects of construction, direct job creation, indirect support, and increased incomes from tripling the current access of Lackawanna and Monroe County, Pa., residents to higher-paying jobs, Rail Passengers has come up with a rough estimate that the project conservatively could generate an annual return of some $80 million across the six counties.
The re-scoped study looks at shaping up 133 miles of track and upgrading two bridges between Hoboken, N.J., and Scranton, Pa..
Among the major elements would be reinstalling 21 miles of missing track on the 28.45-mile Lackawanna Cutoff in New Jersey between a Delaware River bridge and Andover, New Jersey, where a future station is expected to open in 2025, Access NEPA said. New Jersey Transit has restored about 4.25 miles of track on the other 7.3 miles of the cutoff between Andover and Port Morris, where its current service ends.
Access NEPA also pointed to upgrades required for the 1,450-foot Delaware River Viaduct, which spans the Delaware River, and the 938-foot Paulins Kill Viaduct; building a train station at the Delaware Water Gap and a new bridge at Slateford, plus installing new track in Pennsylvania, and new train signals for the entire route.
NYC, Amtrak Officials Unveil Plans for Sunnyside Yards
This week, Amtrak and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released the long-awaited master plan for Sunnyside Yard, a 115-arce transit-oriented and 100% affordable housing project set on decking above the current train yard. With a focus on New Yorkers earning less than 50k per year, Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that Sunnyside Yard presents a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to create a new model for affordable housing and equitable development. The master plan came together after 18 months of analysis, community engagement, and blueprinting.
When constructed, the decking structure over the yard will support new open space, streets, and numerous commercial and residential buildings - all while creating thousands union jobs for those working on the overhaul. As part of the overall plan, a new multimodal station would be created that would connect Queens with Midtown Manhattan via rapid bus lanes and a future new Queens subway line. The station would also connect Queens with the rest of the Northeast via regional rail and Amtrak intercity passenger service.
To read the entire press release from the NYCEDC, click here
‘Be Vigilant, But Not Anxious’: Infectious Disease Experts Weigh In On Coronavirus And Using Public Transportation
With anxiety over the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, respiratory infection rising even faster than the spread of the disease itself, public transit agencies are grappling with how to keep riders from spreading the illness while simultaneously offering riders common-sense ways to travel without getting sick.
"Be vigilant, but not anxious," says infectious disease specialist Avisheh Forouzesh, who owns Advanced Infectious Disease Medical in New Jersey, in an interview with the online publication Business Insider. "The key is not to panic because we can't live in a bubble. I don't think people should entirely avoid public transportation."
The Business Insider story reported that many systems are opting for deep-cleaning and extra disinfection during regular cleaning sessions. San Francisco’s BART system is taking steps such as wiping down all handrails and stanchions in stations with special disinfectants. New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority is sanitizing complete trainsets, coaches and buses every 72 hours.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today that there are now 164 reported cases of COVID-19 infection in the U.S., concentrated mostly in Washington state and California. So far, 11 Americans have died. Of all the American cases, about 30 percent can be linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship or directly to Wuhan, China.
CDC advises that “for most” Americans, “who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time,” the immediate risk from COVID-19 is low, and that “people in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated, though still relatively low risk of exposure.”
In the meantime, health experts offered Business Insider 12 common-sense tips for those riding public transportation -- including trains -- on how to lower your risk.
Don't touch your phone while you're taking public transportation.
Carry hand sanitizer and use it the moment you leave the bus, train, or subway.
Don't touch your face.
If someone is coughing or sneezing, try to move away from them.
Wash your hands the moment you have access to soap and water.
Don't wear a face mask unless you're sick.
Limit contact with train and bus poles.
If it's possible, try to leave work a bit earlier or later to avoid packed public transit during rush hour.
Don't eat or drink while on public transit.
Sanitize your bag and keep it off of the floor and other surfaces.
Avoid directly touching the turnstiles.
Keep up with recommendations from your local department of health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Changing Rail Travel Due To Coronavirus Worries? Amtrak Won’t Charge Change Fees
Amtrak posted a notice this week that it won’t charge change fees for passengers who reschedule travel out of concerns over coronavirus.
While airlines were goaded into waiving their fees -- incurred because in many cases airlines were cancelling or changing flights -- Amtrak for its part hasn’t changed its schedules.
Even so, Amtrak says that for any reservation made before April 30, they’ll waive the change fees, although if your new booking costs more you’ll still have to pay the difference in the fares.
“We will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation closely and adjust this policy as necessary,” Amtrak said.
Membership News and Notices
Rail Passengers has developed a new Membership Committee (chaired by Board Member and Utah Council Member Mike Christensen) and we need members like you! If you are interested in diversifying our membership, spreading the word about the work we do, and can spend a few hours a month working with us to do so, join our Membership Committee! Contact Membership Manager Kim Williams at [email protected] if you’re interested. You must be a current member in good standing. We are particularly interested in members who primarily ride commuter or intercity rail, live outside the Northeast Corridor, or are active on a variety of social media platforms
If you renew your membership by mail, please be sure to send a membership renewal form in with your payment! We will update your membership status only if you return a form to RENEW your membership. Forms asking you to DONATE are processed as general donations, not membership dues. (Donations are 100% tax-deductible and membership dues are tax-deductible minus any AGR points you receive at 2.5 cents each).
#ICYMI - In Case You Missed It: This Week’s Social Media Highlights
This week we covered: Amtrak Leadership Changes, Rail Nation DC 2020, TransitLab Startups in NYC, and the proposed expansion of the Southwest Chief service to Colorado Springs.
Do you want to weigh in on the digital conversation? Join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay in touch and up to date on all things RPA everyday.
Tell Us What’s Happening Where You Live!
When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We will include them in our social media efforts, along with the weekly Hotline. Send your news items to Joe Aiello at jaiello[at]narprail.org, and we will share it with members. Are you holding a rally, a community meeting, or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. We can put them on the website here. Please follow Rail Passengers on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things passenger rail.
Rail Passengers Track Update
Where are we and what are we working on? This section will give you updates on what Rail Passengers HQ is up to.
Jim Mathews, President & CEO, hosted Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmeier in the Rail Passengers DC offices. Strohmeier is helping to spearhead efforts to jump-start restoration of the North Coast Hiawatha route from Washington state through western Montana and beyond. Jim also prepared for a trip to New York State to speak at the Empire State Passengers Association’s annual meeting.
Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, spent all week on Capitol Hill, attending hearings and coordinating with congressional offices as work accelerates on the surface transportation reauthorization. That work is bearing fruit, with exciting new legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Costa to fund high-performance rail at $8 billion per year, and by Sen. Blumenthal and Reps. Lamb and Heck to protect the legal rights of Amtrak passengers.
Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, continues working with Amtrak discussing the logistics of the Panel Group to focus customer feedback to the railroad. Carolyn is also preparing to travel to Lawrence, KS for the March 14 training session for the 9 fully vetted volunteers who will begin staffing the station by April 1.
Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, has been busy helping the rest of the DC staff get ready for RailNation: DC - happening at the end of this month. Joe has also been working with Madi Butler preparing for future field team advocacy opportunities, as well as the free networking event they are co-hosting in DC as part of the conference.
Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, sent out grant applications, chatted with members in the Rockies and Southwest on how to better support their goals, and crafted a number of graphics, invites, and social media goodies in anticipation of RailNation: DC.
Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week talking with members and partners, developing outreach messages and working on the lockbox transition.
Kim Williams, Membership Manager, spent the week responding to member queries, assisting with our mailing change, updating internal processes, and continued streamlining complexities within our database.
Click the image for more information!
Partnership with Signature Federal Credit Union
We are excited to announce our recent partnership with Signature Federal Credit Union. Rail Passengers members now have access to a full service, nationwide federal credit union with extensive product and service offerings. Signature FCU also becomes the exclusive provider of the Rail Passengers Association-branded Visa credit card with our logo, which supports our work by giving back to our organization, and gives you 1 point for every $1 you spend to redeem for travel and merchandise. The card has no annual fee, no balance transfer fees, no foreign transaction fees, and has a very low interest rate.
Gifts from Donor Advised Funds
If you have a donor advised fund, please consider recommending a grant from your fund to be the Rail Passengers Association. It is a great way to maintain flexibility with your support throughout the year. For more information, go to http://myimpact.railpassengers.org/daf. As always, please feel free to contact Jonsie Stone if you have any questions.
The Rail Passengers Association would like to thank our Annual Partners for their support!
We are excited to welcome Alstom as our newest Annual Partner.
Make Plans To Attend RailNation:DC 2020
Washington, DC - Sunday, March 29 through Wednesday, April 1!
The Rail Passengers’ 2020 Annual Advocacy Summit Is Monday, March 30; The ‘Day on The Hill’ & Congressional Reception Is Tuesday, March 31 And The Annual Council Business Meeting Is Wednesday, April 1
Host Hotel - Embassy Suites Alexandria Old Town (At The King Street Metro & Alexandria Amtrak Stations)
Visit The Event Page For Complete Information & Details
Go to railpassengers.org/events for more events and information
Saturday, March 7 - 2020 New York State Rail Advocates Annual Meeting & Lunch - Schenectady, NY
Saturday, March 14 - AAWA Central Washington Passenger Rail Summit - Yakima, WA
Saturday, March 21 - ColoRail Annual Meeting - Englewood, CO
Saturday, March 21 - 2020 New England Rail Advocates Annual Meeting & Lunch - New London, CT
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
California Bus-Only Service Offered Between Bakersfield-Santa Barbara
Effective March 9, 2020
Effective March 9, Amtrak will start selling bus-only tickets for select cities between Bakersfield and Santa Barbara.
Recently, the California Legislature enacted changes to an earlier state law which will permit local bus-only travel to be purchased in some areas. More local bus-only sales are expected to be phased in over time.
San Joaquins Service
Effective March 6 and 7, 2020
Track work being performed by BNSF Railway will affect San Joaquins service on Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7, as described below:
Friday, March 6:
Train 704, which normally operates from Sacramento to Bakersfield, will terminate at Wasco.
Amtrak Thruway Bus 5804 will originate at Wasco and provide alternate transportation between Wasco and Bakersfield.
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, March 7:
Train 711, which normally operates from Bakersfield to Oakland (Jack London Square), will originate at Wasco.
Amtrak Thruway Bus 5811 will operate through to Wasco, providing alternate transportation between Bakersfield and Wasco. Bus 5811 will depart all station stops from San Diego to Bakersfield 15 minutes earlier than normally scheduled.
Grover Beach Thruway Stop Moves to a New Location
Effective Mar. 6, 2020
Effective Mar. 6, Amtrak Thruway buses will stop at the Grover Beach station south parking lot.
The new stop is on the west side of the tracks on the same side as the train platform. The entrance to the parking lot is located on California Highway 1. New address below:
Grover Beach Amtrak Train Station
180 West Grand Avenue
Grover Beach, CA 93433-1968
Buses will serve the present stop on Grand Avenue through Mar. 5.
Lake Shore Limited Trains 448 and 449 Track Work Affects Service
Fri., Sat. and Sun. Feb. 29 - May 17, 2020
Track work being performed by MBTA will affect Trains 448 and 449 between Albany and Boston, as follows:
Train 448 Albany – Boston Service, Friday-Saturday: Feb. 28-29; Mar. 6-7, 20-21, 27-28; April 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25; May 1-2, 8-9, 15-16.
Customers who are traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston (South Station) will get off the train at Albany on the dates above. At Albany, bus service will be provided to and from all stations listed above. No alternate transportation will be provided for the missed stop of Framingham. Passengers traveling to Back Bay will be bussed to Boston and then may take an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train between Boston and Back Bay.
Train 449 Boston – Albany Service, Saturday-Sunday: Feb. 29-Mar. 1; Mar. 7-8, 21-22, 28-29; Apr. 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26; May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17.
Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany on the dates above.
Passengers boarding at Boston (South Station), Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield will be provided bus service to Albany. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops at Back Bay and Framingham. Passengers traveling from Back Bay will have the option of boarding at Boston or traveling on alternate dates.
Boston (South Station) and Worcester
Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.
Passengers at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the Bus Terminal.
Please Note: There will be no Business Class or sleeping car during this time
Interline Thruway Service Between Portland, OR and Astoria
Effective Feb. 24, 2020
Effective Feb. 24, Amtrak will start selling Interline Thruway Service between Portland, OR and Astoria.
Buses 8912, 8913, 8916, 8917, 8920 and 8921 will offer service between Portland and Astoria via US-30, with intermediate stops at Scappoose, St Helen, Rainier, Clatskanie, Westport, Knappa and Svenson.
San Diego Old Town Station Boarding Track Changes
Effective February 24, 2020
Beginning February 24, Pacific Surfliner trains will depart and arrive on different tracks at the · Northbound trains will continue to depart from track 4.
Please allow extra time for boarding and detraining while getting familiar with the different route to parking and connecting services. The pedestrian underpass can be used if needed.San Diego Old Town station.
Southbound trains will now arrive on track 3. Passengers can be picked up from Old Town Station on the street side closest to track 3.
Northbound trains will continue to depart from track 4.
Keystone Service Schedule Changes
Effective Mar. 7 through Nov. 15, 2020
Due to the Middletown Station Construction Project, Keystone Service schedules will be affected between Mar. 7 and Nov. 15.
Train 620 will operate 5 minutes later from Harrisburg to Elizabethtown, will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate 6 minutes later from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 622 will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate 1 minute later from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 646 will operate 1 minute earlier from Harrisburg to Elizabethtown, will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate on the current schedule from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 652 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Philadelphia
Train 654 will operate 10 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.
Train 605 will operate 10 minutes later from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
Train 607 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
Train 645 will operate 10 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.
Train 669 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg on weekends.
Piedmont Trains 74 and 77 Cancelled
Boston South Station Transportation Center Improvements
Construction of the South Station Air Rights Project began in January 2020. This project will include the completion of the South Station Transportation Center.
During the construction some entrances and exits may be closed or reconfigured. Trains may arrive and depart on a different track than expected. Passengers are encouraged to check their track before boarding and allow extra time to become familiar with the new construction zones.
For more information on the project please visit www.southstationairrights.com
Pacific Surfliner Weekend Service Changes
Friday, Saturday and Sunday March 8-11, 2020
Track work being performed in San Diego County by the North County Transit District will affect Pacific Surfliner service on the dates shown below:
Friday, March 6
Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles. Bus service will be provided south from Los Angeles to San Diego, serving all missed stops.
Saturday and Sunday, March 7-8
Trains 562, 578, 583, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573, 1590 and 1591 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.
Southbound Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between Los Angeles and San Diego. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.
Southbound Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles and bus service will be provided for all missed stops.
Southbound Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will operate normally to Irvine, where bus service will be provided from Irvine to San Diego. Express buses will run from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and Downtown San Diego.
Northbound Train 1761 will originate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between San Diego and Los Angeles. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.
Northbound Trains 579, 593, 595, 763, 777, 785 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided from San Diego to Irvine to connect with the trains listed above. Buses will depart Downtown San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano earlier than the train schedule to allow time to connect with trains in Irvine.
Buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego. Passengers can take the trolley to Downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.
Metrolink will honor Amtrak tickets between San Juan Capistrano and Los Angeles.
Please note: There will be no checked baggage or express service south of Santa Ana on the dates shown above. Alternate bus service will not serve San Clemente Pier.
Travel Tip of the Week
In case you missed it, here is Amtrak’s Wednesday, March 4 statement regarding the Coronavirus.
Amtrak Takes Active Measures to Maintain Safe Environment
March 4, 2020
Passenger and employee safety is Amtrak’s top priority. We continue to monitor the Coronavirus situation closely in the United States and elsewhere. Our medical, public health and emergency management teams are in contact with appropriate officials across our network to maintain awareness of the latest information. Thus far, we’ve had no confirmed cases of exposure to passengers or employees.
To reduce risk, we’ve increased cleaning frequency on trains and at stations multiple times a day and in some cases, an hourly basis. Through expanded services provided by our custodial vendors, we’ve increased the use of disinfectants to wipe down handrails, doorknobs, handles and restrooms. We have also begun to place additional antibacterial products to include sanitizers and wipes throughout our stations and trains. While taking active measures to maintain a safe work environment, new protocol includes:
Providing more anti-bacterial wipes and gels in common work areas – including onboard trains, in stations, crew bases and offices.
Increasing inventory across the network – including increasing stocks of gloves, antibacterial products, bathroom soap and more.
Disseminating accurate information to reduce risk – through reference posters and instructional videos that will be displayed in stations.
Taking targeted action based on guidance from public health experts – collaborating with stakeholders and transit partners.
While there are no current travel restrictions on Amtrak, we understand customers may have concerns. As a valued customer we will waive change fees on all existing or new reservations made before April 30, 2020. We are continuing to monitor the coronavirus situation closely and will adjust this policy as necessary. The waiver applies for tickets purchased by April 30, 2020.
How to Change a Reservation:
Simply log on to your account or go to Modify Trip on Amtrak.com, or find your reservation from your account on the home screen in the Amtrak app.
A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary if it is more expensive than the original fare purchased.
If you want to cancel your reservation, call 1-800-USA-RAIL.
TravelReview Feedback Card
As of February 29 a total of 1,168 TravelReviews have been submitted
As you travel, please help us promote the Travel Review with other rail passengers. As you encounter passengers who want to make their positive and negative opinions known, please direct them to www.railpassengers.org/Travel Review. All participants will remain anonymous. If you encounter any problems with the Travel Review, or have any questions, please send an email to [email protected]
Do You Need More TravelReview Feedback Cards?
Please help us to spread the word. We need your help in engaging other passengers when you travel and let them know that their feedback is welcomed by RailPax. To facilitate this sharing of information the TravelReview Feedback Card is now available for you to download and print for regular usage. The card can be given to fellow passengers to introduce the work that RailPax is doing as well as our desire to have their feedback. The cards can also be left behind in stations as you pass through.
The template is in a .pdf format and will open in Adobe document cloud. First download the file and save it to your desktop for easy access. Then print as needed. The original template is formatted for Avery 5871 or 5371 cardstock which are both 2” x 3½” business card formats. Any brand cardstock should function as long as the dimensions match.
If you experience any problems in accessing the file, please send an email to [email protected]
Lonely Planet's Amazing Train Journeys
Planning a holiday-season vacation including trains, or looking for a great holiday gift idea, then you need a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Amazing Train Journeys’ guidebook! And with every purchase Lonely Planet will donate 15% of the proceeds to your Association, to help us keep working for More Trains, Better Trains and a commitment to better infrastructure.
Through this beautiful book, you’ll experience 60 of the world’s greatest and most unforgettable train journeys, from classic long-distance trips like Western Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and Darwin to Adelaide’s The Ghan, to little-known gems on regular commuting lines. It’s the culmination of asking more than 200 travel writers for their absolute favorites.
Some are epic international adventures, others are short suburban routes along stunning coastline. There are incredible feats of engineering, trains that snake their way through mountain peaks, and even those which have achieved Unesco World Heritage status.
More than just a collection, each profile will give you the practical information you need to experience one or more of these epic journeys yourself -- including ticket options, timetables and stops, plus inspiring photos and illustrated maps. It’s all here!
Amazing Train Journeys is available as a book, e-Book or in both formats at a low combination price. And your purchase helps supports your Association’s mission too! Remember, Lonely Planet is contributing 15% of all Amazing Train Journeys sales to Rail Passengers! You can order copies by clicking here!
Looking towards 2020
As the decade comes to a close, we reflect on all of our accomplishments over the past 10 years and consider what the coming years might have in store. As you may know, 2020 will be a critical year in determining the future of passenger rail service nationwide.
Amtrak is quasi-public corporation, with the federal government providing a significant portion of the railroad’s annual operations and capital budget. The current funding authorization expires at the end of FY2020, and in 2020 the Rail Passengers Association will be leading efforts in the courts and on Capitol Hill to ensure that America’s passenger rail service continues to thrive. We will fight to sustain our vision of “A Connected America” where all of us, rich or poor, rural or urban, are linked together.
We’re committed to this work and ready to take action, but we can’t do it alone. As we look towards 2020, please consider donating to support this critical work.
"The COVID Pandemic has been and continues to be the biggest challenge faced by Americans as it has taken a deadly toll on the world and on the world’s economies. During COVID Locomotive Engineers at Amtrak and other Passenger and Freight Railroads have embodied the definition of essential workers. This dedication by our members is not new. We applaud the Rail Passenger’s Association for recognizing the vital contributions of our members and their hard work moving Americans and freight during the COVID pandemic."
Dennis Pierce, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) National President
December 21, 2021, on the Association awarding its 2021 Golden Spike Award to the Frontline Amtrak Employees.