Happening Now

Hotline #1,134

September 13, 2019

Amtrak Responds To Dining Concerns; Senate Appropriators Approve Spending Levels For FY20 Spending Bills; Amtrak Updates App; An Ideal State For Amtrak; What I Learned On My Summer Adventure; Virginia Receives Positive ‘Record of Decision’; Portland, OR Light Rail Extension Faces Funding Gap; Amtrak Announces New Acela ‘Non-Stop’ Amenities; PTC Installation Reaches 87%; New Wisconsin Funding Source; Chicago CTA Project Moves Forward

September 14, 2019

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.

Chad Edison - Chief Deputy Secretary for Rail and Transit - California State Transportation Agency - will be the Keynote Speaker at this October’s RailNation:California Advocacy Symposium in Sacramento.

The RailNation:California Saturday Advocacy Symposium sessions will feature three thematic tracks:

  • ‘Inclusion & Equity’

  • ‘Making Change Happen’

  • ‘What Passengers Want’

Track #3 – ‘What Passengers Want’ will look at rail transportation from the passengers’ perspective. Presentations in this track will focus on what kinds of service do rail passengers want; what kinds of amenities to passengers want; putting conventional and high-speed together to make the rail network do what travelers need and how to make the most of today’s rail experience. Track #3 is being sponsored by Airwothy.

You don’t want to miss out on RailNation:California! REGISTER TODAY!

Amtrak will use efficiencies gained from the new food-service model on Eastern trains to restore dining service to the Silver Star. In addition, Amtrak plans to restore coach passengers’ ability to buy meals in the dining car, will offer four additional hot meal options, and won’t change the current food-service model on Western long-distance trains, Amtrak’s top executive for customer experience told Rail Passengers CEO Jim Mathews this week in response to Mathews’ August 29 letter.

“Is it the full-up traditional dining-car experience? No. But are these important improvements? Yes, they are. Responding to our in-person meetings over several months, capped off by our ‘ultimatum’ letter at the end of August, Amtrak is taking concrete steps to address some of the most serious concerns we’ve raised about the new Contemporary Dining service,” said Mathews. “With these changes, coach passengers will be able to buy food again, there will be more food and better selections, and they’re getting rid of the boxes, bags, wraps and trash that accompanied every meal under the Lake Shore and Capitol models. Amtrak and its customer-experience team listened to the feedback Rail Passengers supplied and is continuing to work with us to add more improvements.”

Rail Passengers has been working hard since last year to push Amtrak for these and other changes in a series of one-on-one meetings and discussions with Amtrak leaders and managers.

In a five-page response to Rail Passengers, Amtrak’s Peter Wilander -- VP for Product Development and Customer Experience -- outlined steps his team will take to address our concerns, using a combination of new processes, new products from vendors and new technology.

The steps encompass several broad areas, but among the most significant improvements:

  • Amtrak is getting rid of the box, the bag and the “takeout Chinese” presentation in favor of a meal-specific tray

  • Amtrak is going to restore the ability of Coach passengers to buy food from the diner, implementing an order-ahead system so that passengers have the option to make selections at booking

  • Amtrak is introducing FOUR additional hot options for a total of five available

  • Amtrak is introducing two meat-and-egg breakfast sandwiches: a sausage-egg-cheese English Muffin and a ham-egg-cheese on a ciabatta roll

  • Amtrak is using a combination of processes and technology to ensure that there is enough food on board for service, and enough variety so that passengers’ first choice is more likely to be available

In addition, Wilander has asked for Rail Passengers’ help in finding a solution to the problems posed by special meals (Kosher, vegan, vegetarian, allergies, sensitivities, etc.).

As for the question that’s top-of-mind for nearly all of us advocates -- what happens to food service on the Western trains -- Wilander was unequivocal, both in his letter and this afternoon in a visit with Wilander at Union Station to sample the new food.

Mathews asked in August “What are Amtrak’s plans for dining changes on the Western trains, i.e., National Network trains such as the Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Coast Starlight and Sunset Limited?”

Wilander replied that “there are no plans to change the service model for our two-night trains.” The two-year-old menus will get a “refresh sometime in the first half of FY20,” he noted, which would mean sometime between roughly now and March. He also added that Amtrak will launch new “soft goods” (mattresses, linens, sheets, blankets and towels) along with upgraded soap and amenities during the coming year.

During Mathews’ visit with Wilander, he reiterated that there have never been plans to change the Western trains’ service-delivery model and the Western trains’ menus will get new entrees. At the same time, however, there will continue to be upgrades to the Eastern trains’ food after it rolls out on October 1.

An oven upgrade for several of the food-service cars has been stalled by mechanical issues, but CEO Richard Anderson has apparently issued an edict that this work will get done by the end of the year. The ovens are a key part of improving the preparation of the food and the volume of food that can be delivered during service.

During the menu sampling today aboard a Viewliner II diner, five hot options were on the menu: a braised beef dish with polenta, carrots and green beans, a sweet-and-sour Asian noodle bowl, a penne pasta with meatballs, a chicken fettuccine entree and a shrimp and rice entree with andouille sausage. The Asian noodle bowl is vegan, and all come with a fresh green salad.

A breakfast layout was also featured, which includes the two hot sandwiches as well as yogurt, fruit, oatmeal and cold cereals.

The Union Station event also included a walk-through of the refreshed Amfleet II coaches for Eastern long-distance service and the new Viewliner sleeper, which appeared somewhat more spacious, much fresher and with better lighting, fixtures, plumbing and storage. We also got a sneak peek at the new linens and prototypes for the new blankets and comforters.

Watch the blog next week for more coverage of our walk-through.

Celebrate Phoenix Light Rail Victory This Sunday

Campaign Organizers of the No on Props 105 and 106 are celebrating the defeat of the anti-rail ballot measures this Sunday!

Please join Mayor Gallego and the campaign's co-chairs, Councilmember Laura Pastor and Councilmember Debra Stark, for a celebration of our victory.

Sunday, September 15th

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown -- Pueblo Room.


If you're able to make it, RSVP here. Food and drinks will be served.

Senate appropriators approved spending levels for all 12 Fiscal Year 2020 spending bills, setting aside $74.3 billion for transportation and housing.

Passengers should find out the specific levels and policy riders next week, with a mark-up scheduled for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing. Transportation leadership expects to avoid controversy, and the numbers are expected to match well with the House rail funding levels.

“I’ve worked very closely with our ranking member, our staffs have worked very closely, and I expect at least at the subcommittee level, that everything will go smoothly,” said subcommittee Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine). “You never know what’s going to come out of the full committee.”

With two weeks remaining until the September 30thfiscal deadline and only a handful of Fiscal Year 2020 budget bills passed, Congress has already settled on a short-term extension that would push the deadline to Thanksgiving.

“I like the Thanksgiving deadline just to try to create a sense of urgency,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) of the House Appropriations Committee. “But there’s no risk of a government shutdown.”

While the Continuing Resolution will likely be a “clean” extension, with no controversial policy riders, Congressional leaders are working to include a temporarily fix to avert $1.2 billion in cuts to the mass transit fund triggered by declining fuel tax revenue.

Amtrak has released an updated version of its smartphone app, saying the new version offers more services and makes booking faster and easier.

New features include:

· The ability to save information on up to three credit cards for quick checkout.

· The ability to book on the app using Amtrak Guest Rewards points.

· A link to purchase parking, where available.

· The ability to book Auto Train tickets directly on the app.

· Editing of profile information.

You can find the app at Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.

Have you tried out the new Amtrak app? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Please help us gather feedback on the rail passenger’s dining experience as the data will help us address concerns amongst our members. We will be accepting responses through September 30th.

An Ideal State For Amtrak

Reauthorization Means It's Time To Wrestle With What 'Ideal' Means For A Publicly Funded Enterprise

September 11, 2019

by Jim Mathews / President & CEO

Skift is one of those new-breed online media companies, supplying news, research, analysis and marketing to the entire travel industry, everyone from air carriers to hotels and restaurants and everything in-between. Next week Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson is set to speak at Skift’s Global Forum speakers’ series in New York City, and over this past weekend Skift published a Q&A with Anderson which seems to be a preview of his talk.

The problem, as always, is framing. Skift started with the assumption that Amtrak has to make a profit like any other company. Skift's framing is incorrect, as I’ve written previously. Please go back and re-read what I said about the legal fiction that Amtrak must make a profit.

When you start with the narrative that Amtrak’s problem is that it’s forced to run long-distance trains at a loss instead of short-corridor trains in densely populated areas at an operating profit (a debatable idea), a lot of other assumptions come along for the ride and go completely uninterrogated.

Overall when I read the interview, I was reminded why I actually admire a lot of the tough calls Anderson is having to make at Amtrak. Focusing like a laser on safety, installing a safety-management system (SMS) culture and processes, forcing conversations among managers about efficiency…all of those are good things to do. And for the first time in a long time, Amtrak leaders are talking about truly growing service, adding to the offering and buying new equipment for the long-distance services and looking ahead to the future. Even if I disagree with the details, they need to be given credit for at least beginning to think about what it might take to make service better and more relevant to new riders.

To read more of Jim’s thoughts, continue here.

What I Learned on my Summer Adventure

From intern to organizer: a commitment beyond Summer by Rail

September 12, 2019

by Madi Butler

As many of you know from following along with Summer by Rail, I have concluded my 24 destination, 50 day, 6,000 mile adventure. Not only was my time spent utilizing national and regional networks, I also experienced many multimodal and last mile solutions. While there are definitely nuances to which public transit solutions work best in which areas, there are some common themes I have noticed in my travels and I hope to spend my time as a Grassroots Organizer with Rail Passengers Association rectifying what I can and coalition building to address what will require additional support.

Click here to read more of Madi’s blog

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, met with a delegation of Montana officials on Thursday and particapted in today's Amtrak dining options presentation at Washington Union Station.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, worked with Congressional offices and other rail groups on a blueprint for the next generation of passenger rail in the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization, looking at ways to unlock existing loan programs and opening US operating markets for international operators. He also met with a delegation of Montana officials to discuss strategies for returning passenger rail service to southern Montana.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, has continued working with the East Lansing Planning Group and has set the date for volunteer training for Monday, September 23, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the East Lansing station. Training will be led by Amtrak managers and will include safety and emergency coordination, ADA practices, and Amtrak policies and procedures. The first volunteer shifts are scheduled for October 11 and 13.

  • Joseph Aiello, Northeast Field Coordinator, attended a Regional Rail “Proof of Concept” event hosted by TransitMatters this week. Joe has also been hard at work with the rest of the DC staff helping prepare for RailNation:California

  • Bruce Becker, Vice-President of Operations, was in Washington this week touring potential host hotels for the Association’s 2020 Washington Advocacy Summit & Day on The Hill. The dates for this annual spring gathering of rail advocates from across the country are Sunday, March 29 - Wednesday, April 1. The Rail Passengers’ 2020 ‘Day on The Hill’ and Congressional Reception will be Tuesday, March 31.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, continued reaching out to current prospective partners to broaden Rail Passengers network. Jonsie also spent time putting finishing touches on a member/donor survey which will be in inboxes by the end of September.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, is getting to know our members, making improvements on internal member services processes, and making sure member payments are being accurately processed.

The Rail Passengers Association would like to thank Talgo, Inc., our Annual Partner, for their support.

Virginia received a positive ‘Record of Decision’ from the Federal Railroad Administration this week for the DC2RVA high speed rail project, which will permit the construction of a third main track between Richmond and Alexandria (and a fourth track between Alexandria and the Potomac River Bridge) to begin the years to come. .

Construction on the project would begin with the additional tracks in Northern Virginia, said Jennifer Mitchell, the director of Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation. That project is fully funded and could mean a few more slots for Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express trains.

The federal “Record of Decision” on the DC2RVA project, released this week, means the state now has cleared the environmental hurdles and can start designing and constructing the new tracks between D.C. and Richmond. Those are incremental improvements while the bigger hurdle, the bottleneck at Long Bridge, makes its way through an environmental review period. Officials want to expand that bridge from two to four tracks, as it’s at capacity and limits train travel through the region. The $1.9 billion bridge project still needs funding and would take about five years to build.

The future track capacity expansion will also come with higher top speeds of up to 90 mph, in addition to improved reliability.

TriMet officials in Portland, OR say that even after discussing potential cost-saving cuts, the light-rail extension to the Bridgeport Village Mall faces a $400 million budget gap. The $2.87 billion multimodal project - slated to be completed in 2027 - includes the 12-mile light rail segment, miles of bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and sidewalks in Southwest Portland. The entire plan has come under recent budget constraints and another $200 million in cash may be needed to supplement the $1.25 billion in federal money and another $850 million from a 2020 transportation package. TriMet could cut $62 million by reducing the amount of crossover track segments that would be built, as well as planning for a reduced amount of stormwater infrastructure. The agency has also presented more extreme measures such as diverting trains along Interstate 5, reducing street traffic to one-lane along the proposed route, or eliminating the construction of three stations - the last of which could potentially save the full $400 million gap.

Amtrak on Thursday announced the unique amenities exclusive to its new Acela Nonstop New York to Washington train, which begins its inaugural trip on Monday, September. 23, including: complimentary coffee, tea, water, and a light snack, “at seat” cashless cart service offering a limited menu of snacks and beverages and onboard phone charging kits for sale.

Positive Train Control systems are operable on 87% of the required rail network according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) with only 16 months left before the implementation deadline.

In its quarterly update, the FRA reported that PTC is operable on 50,300 of the 58,000 route-miles designated for coverage by Congress, up 4% over the last three months.

“FRA is currently directing its focus and resources on the technical challenges facing the railroads, including commencing revenue service demonstration, interoperability testing, and safety plans,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory.

Amtrak is leading the way with 99.8% of its route-miles covered by PTC. Commuter railroads trail the pack with only 37% coverage, though they saw a 12% increase since last quarter. Having already seen two extensions, the FRA insists that this deadline will stick, outlining its program to help railroads reach this important safety milestone:

“All railroads have committed to fully implementing PTC systems on the required main lines by Dec. 31, 2020, if not earlier. Nonetheless, Administrator Batory and senior FRA officials continue to host meetings with dozens of individual railroads and groups of railroads, vendors, suppliers and subject matter experts to actively monitor developments and identify potential solutions where challenges arise.

“In addition, regular meetings are being held with the executive leadership of Amtrak and each commuter railroad that operates on or near Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and/or the commuter railroad’s own PTC-mandated main lines in the Northeast.

“Finally, FRA will host the remaining four of six PTC Collaboration Sessions over the next 16 months to further support all railroads subject to the statutory mandate and to convene the industry’s technical experts to share best practices and jointly resolve common technical problems.”

Local and tribal governmental agencies in Wisconsin will soon have a new source of funds to draw from for transportation projects as the Wisconsin DOT has announced a $75 million Multimodal Local Supplement grant program. In a press release, Governor Tony Evers said that this grant program will be used to “provide flexibility and funding they need to address the transportation projects that are most needed in their communities.” While the first project to receive grant money will be a critical vertical lift bridge outside of Green Bay, the grant is open to all transit, bicycle, and railroad projects.

The state has said that the program will cover 90% of the total costs, with the local share taking up the remaining 10% with a minimum project cost of $250,000 needed to apply.

A 112-year old CTA rail junction on the northside of Chicago is set to be replaced in the single largest project in the agency’s history. The $2.1 billion Red and Purple Line Modernization Program will fix one of the worst track and signal bottlenecks in the entire system by creating a bypass track north of the Belmont station for northbound Brown Line trains. The bypass will allow for an additional eight Red Line trains per hour during the rush period and a 60% increase in train speeds through this section of track.

Construction will begin this fall with the first phase being the digging of 70-foot deep holes to hold the foundation of the bypass. The current bridge that runs underneath this proposed bypass will also be rebuilt to allow for the straightening of the tracks for Red and Purple Line trains, as well as the reconstruction of the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr stations. The entire program is scheduled to be finished in 2025. CTA senior VP for Infrastructure said that this is “not just a North Side issue” and that the entire network will benefit from the work being done.

Albuquerque to Host American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners 42nd Annual Convention

Show your support for the Southwest Chief by joining AAPRCO members at the opening session of its 42nd annual convention on Tuesday, September 17th. The keynote address will be delivered by two mayors whose cities are served by the Chief: John Pritchard of Galesburg, Illinois, and Tim Keller of Albuquerque. They will announce the creation of a Southwest Chief Mayors’ Coalition to coordinate advocacy efforts of elected officials and stakeholders from Illinois to California. AAPRCO's $10,000 contribution to the 2018 Southwest Chief federal TIGER grant will be highlighted with presentation of a ceremonial check to the manager of Colfax County (NM), lead applicant for the grant. There also will be a media question and answer session. This event begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Majorca Room of the Hotel Andaluz, 125 Second Street, NW; Albuquerque.

  • Rare Mileage Excursion – Albuquerque - Santa Fe - Lamy: On Wednesday, September 18, board Rail Runner Express in Albuquerque at 9:35 am, ride to Santa Fe, then transfer to the Santa Fe Southern’s vintage equipment for a relaxed, 18-mile journey to Lamy, through New Mexico’s beautiful high desert. In Lamy, enjoy lunch at the historic Legal Tender Saloon. After the return to Santa Fe, pick any Rail Runner departure depending on how long you want to spend exploring historic Santa Fe and its shops and restaurants. Trains leave for Albuquerque at 4:15 pm, 5:04, 5:30, 6:46 and 9:00. The excursion is open to AAPRCO members only, but non-members can join the association and purchase an excursion ticket for the all-inclusive price of $199; this includes AAPRCO Associate Membership through December 2020, round-trip travel on Rail Runner Express and Santa Fe Southern, and luncheon at Legal Tender Saloon. To purchase tickets, contact the AAPRCO office at 706.326.6262.

  • The opportunity to tour several private cars in Albuquerque also Sept. 18—Tours—roughly an hour long—are scheduled every 15 minutes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $20 per person. Advance, online ticket purchases are recommended. Tickets sold on-line until day of the tours---advance purchases recommended but open tour slots will be sold at the station on the day of the tours on a cash-only basis – http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=y6b9iulab&oeidk=a07egjq8isz6b093474

To inquire, call AAPRCO Executive Director Julie King at 706.326.6262

Our Best Fall Event Yet! Make Plans To Attend RailNation:California in Sacramento, Friday, October 18 - Monday, October 21.

Planning has been in high gear for the past few months, and we think this is truly going to be our best meeting yet! Over the four-day gathering, passenger rail advocates from across the country will take in area tours and trips, in addition to participating in Saturday’s all-day Advocacy Symposium. Great speakers will talk about both history and the future, and real hands-on workshops will give you the tools you need to go back home and fight for passenger rail! The Association’s Council of Representatives will hold its fall business meeting on Sunday morning.

Meeting Registration Is Now Open and Tour & Trip Tickets Are Also On Sale!

Chad Edison - Chief Deputy Secretary for Rail and Transit - California State Transportation Agency - will be the event's Keynote Speaker.

Saturday’s sessions will focus on three thematic ‘tracks’:

  • ‘Inclusion & Equity’ session speakers & presenters will include Alfred Twu, Jason Lee and George Basile

  • ‘Making Change Happen’ session speakers & presenters will include Robert Munson, Michael Christensen, Karen Christenson, Doug Kerr, Carl Fowler & Fritz Plous

  • ‘What Passengers Want’ session speakers & presenters will include Jim Allison, Tom Martinelli and Harvey Botzman. Track #3 is being sponsored by Airworthy

FYI...Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations at the host hotel, the Sheraton Grand Downtown, are now SOLD-OUT! A list of alternative nearby hotels and rates is now available! Please note there are NO special arrangements with any of these alternative hotels.

Be sure to check out the RailNation:California event page for more information, the current agenda and further details.

Great sponsorship opportunities have been developed for RailNation:California. Please send Jonsie Stone contact information for any organizations/individuals you think Rail Passengers Association should contact to discuss supporting the event.

And to make all of this a success, we need volunteers for the event! Check out these volunteer opportunities and let Bruce Becker know if you can help! Event volunteers who complete their agreed upon duties will receive 300 Amtrak Guest Rewards points as our ‘thank you’!

And as an optional component of RailNation: California, an intensive, ‘Hands-On’ Advocacy Workshop, led by Rail Passengers’ Vice-President of Policy Sean Jeans-Gail, will be held on Friday, October 18, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

Staff members from Rail Passengers’ federal and state policy team will engage with workshop participants, in a small group setting, on the A to Z of advocacy. We’ll teach you advocacy best practices, help you figure out the best strategy for interacting with elected officials and policymakers, and give you a blueprint for launching a successful campaign to improve service in your town—whether it’s local transit, commuter, or intercity rail and Amtrak.

This workshop will focus on giving advocates the following tools:

  • Define achievable goals: whether it’s launching a new service, a new frequency, or getting an issue on the ballot, you need to determine a workable path to get you where you want to go.

  • Build coalitions: recruit like-minded advocates, national and local advocacy organizations, business partners, and elected officials. We’ll tackle the hard questions about how to maintain partnerships in the face of adversity and competing interests.

  • Guide the narrative: learn how to engage through social media, connect with traditional media outlets and reporters, and find the right message to cut through the noise.

  • Establish a campaign blueprint: create a calendar for sustainable grassroots action, making intelligent use of limited financial resources and volunteer labor.

Workshop participants will leave not only with the knowledge to execute effective advocacy efforts but with a tool-kit of sorts as well. The interactive nature of the workshop will provide materials needed to hit the ground running in their advocacy work.

The Workshop is $20.00 per person and advance registration is required. Space is limited!

Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:

Please contact Bruce Becker to have a state or regional event or meeting added to the Rail Passengers calendar of upcoming events!


San Joaquins Trains 703 & 704 Track Work Affects Lodi Service

Mondays, Sept. 23, 30, Oct. 7, 2019

Due to track work being performed by Union Pacific Railroad, Trains 703 and 704 schedules will be affected as outlined below: Mondays, Sept. 23, 30 and Oct. 7 Trains 703 and 704 will detour between Stockton and Sacramento missing the station stop at Lodi on the above dates. Alternate transportation will not be provided.

Passengers traveling on these trains may experience delays up to 30 minutes. Passengers planning to travel to Lodi on these dates may consider using other Amtrak San Joaquins trains or Thruway buses.

Vermonter Trains 55 and 56 and Valley Flyer Pedestrian Underpass Project Affects Service

Tues., Sept. 10 through Thurs., Sept. 12, 2019

To accommodate the Springfield North End Pedestrian Underpass Project, which will provide a safe pedestrian connection between the Brightwood and North End neighborhoods, Amtrak’s Vermonter and Valley Flyer Service will be adjusted as outlined below.

Vermonter Service

Trains 55 and 56, which normally operate between Washington, D.C. and St. Albans, will operate between Washington, D.C. and Springfield. Alternate transportation will be provided, via Buses 3055 and 3056, for all missed intermediate stops except Claremont, Windsor and Randolph.

Valley Flyer Service

Which normally operates between New Haven and Greenfield will operate between New Haven and Springfield, only. No alternate transportation will be provided. Trains 471, 478, 494 and 495 are cancelled between Greenfield and Springfield.

NEC Schedule Changes

Effective September 23, 2019

As part of a periodic review of schedules we are making changes to better align to customer demand.

  • Train 111 will depart New York 15 minutes earlier and make additional stops for passenger convenience.

  • Train 127 will operate Wednesday through Friday between New York and Washington, D.C.

  • Train 151 will operate Monday and Tuesday, only and operate on a faster schedule with fewer stops.

  • Acela Trains 2401and 2402will run nonstop Monday through Friday between New York and Washington, D.C.

Amtrak Station

Train 151

Monday - Tuesday

Train 111

Monday - Friday

Train 127

Wednesday - Friday

New York

4:40 AM

5:15 AM

4:05 PM


R 4:56 AM

R 5:30 AM

R 4:20 PM

Newark Airport



4:27 PM


5:10 AM

5:43 AM

4:37 PM

New Brunswick


5:54 AM


Princeton Junction


6:07 AM



5:36 AM

6:16 AM

5:00 PM

Philadelphia 30th St.

6:04 AM

6:51 AM

5:32 PM


6:28 AM

7:13 AM

5:53 PM



7:44 AM



7:17 AM

8:08 AM

6:40 PM

B.W.I Airport

7:30 AM

8:25 AM

6:54 PM

New Carrollton

D 7:48 AM

D 8:39 AM

D 7:09 PM

Washington, DC

8:05 AM

8:56 AM

7:30 PM

Amtrak Station

Train 2401

Monday - Friday

Amtrak Station

Train 2402

Monday - Friday

New York

6:35 AM

Washington, DC

4:30 PM

Washington, DC

9:12 AM

New York

7:05 PM

Detroit, MI Station Parking Lot Temporarily Closed

Effective through Sept. 16, 2019

Please be advised that due to a site survey being performed by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Detroit station parking lot will be temporarily closed, effective immediately, through Sept. 16.Limited parking will be available at the overflow lot south of the station, as well as the railroad embankment at the TechTown parking lot along the west side of Woodward Avenue at Amsterdam Street. Due to the limited number of spaces, please make every effort to be dropped off and picked up during this disruption. Any passenger planning to leave their car during train travel, please obtain a free parking pass from an Amtrak Customer Service Representative.

Keystone Service Schedule Changes

Effective through Nov. 3, 2019

Due to track work being performed along the Keystone Service line, some schedules will be affected through Nov. 3 as outlined below.

Eastbound Weekdays

  • Train 600 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Philadelphia

  • Train 648 will operate 5 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Paoli and will arrive on time into Philadelphia.

  • Train 650 will operate 5 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Paoli and 1 minute earlier into Philadelphia

Eastbound Weekends

  • Train 612 will operate 10 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia

  • Train 670 will operate 15 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Philadelphia

Westbound Weekdays

  • Train 641 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Middletown and 3 minutes later into Harrisburg

  • Train 643 will operate 4 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg

  • Train 651 will operate 4 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Middletown and will arrive on time into Harrisburg

Westbound Weekends

  • Train 611 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg

  • Train 661 will operate 3 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg

Elizabethtown Station Boarding

  • Track 2 will be closed for boarding effective July 22, 2019

  • Passengers traveling to Harrisburg will need to board on Track 1

Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle

Effective Sept. 17 and 18, 2019

Due to track work being performed by Union Pacific Railroad, Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle will be affected on Sept. 17 and 18, as follows:

Lincoln Service, Tuesday, Sept. 17:

  • Train 307, which normally operates between Chicago and St. Louis, will operate between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, only. Alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops at Springfield and St. Louis.

Lincoln Service, Wednesday, Sept. 18:

  • Trains 300, 302, 304 and 306, which normally operate between St. Louis and Chicago, will operate between Bloomington-Normal and Chicago, only. Alternate transportation will be provided. Please check Amtrak.com for specific schedule information. O

    • Buses will operate earlier than corresponding train schedules.

  • Trains 301, 303 and 305, which normally operate between Chicago and St. Louis, will operate between Chicago and Bloomington-Normal, only. Alternate transportation will be provided. Please check Amtrak.com for specific schedule information.

    • Buses will operate later than corresponding train schedules.

Texas Eagle, Wednesday, Sept. 18:

  • Southbound Train 21 will detour between Chicago and St. Louis, missing stops at Joliet, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville and Alton. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops.

  • Northbound Train 22/422 will detour between St. Louis and Chicago, missing stops at Alton, Carlinville, Springfield, Lincoln, Bloomington-Normal, Pontiac and Joliet. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops.

    • Passengers traveling through to Chicago will remain on Train 22.

    • Passengers destined to intermediate stops will detrain at St. Louis and transfer to Bus 3322.

  • Trains 21 and 22 may incur up to 60 minutes in delays along the detour route.

Track Work Affects Missouri River Runner Service Effective September 9, 2019

Track work being performed by Union Pacific Railroad will affect Missouri River Runner service on September 9 as outlined below:

Monday, September 9

  • Southbound Trains 311 and 313 which normally operate between St. Louis and Kansas City, will terminate at Hermann. Alternate transportation will be provided to the missed station stops of Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee’s Summit and Independence.

    • Buses 3111 and 3113 will operate from Hermann to Kansas City. Buses may operate later than the train schedule.

  • Northbound Trains 314 and 316 which normally operate between Kansas City and St. Louis, will originate at Hermann. Alternate transportation will be provided to the missed station stops of Independence, Lee’s Summit, Warrensburg, Sedalia and Jefferson City.

    • Buses 3314 and 3116 will operate from Kansas City to Hermann. Buses will depart earlier from Kansas City.

Cal Poly University Move-In Days Affect Amtrak Thruway Service

September 13 through 17, 2019

On Friday, September 13 Cal Poly University will begin their annual Move-In Days. Students moving into the dorms will cause road closures and heavy traffic around the University.

As a result, on September 14, Amtrak’s Thruway Buses 4003, 4010, 4015, 4761, 4762, 4763, 4767, 4768, 4777, 4782, 4785, 4792, 4796, 6232, 6234 and 6237 will be unable to access the San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) stop or PAC Loop between 6:00 am and 8:00 PM. Expect delays around the University for the rest of the weekend.

Buses 4004 and 4785 will continue to stop at San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) during late night and early morning hours.

All Thruway service will run normally at Amtrak’s San Luis Obispo station stop.

Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight

Friday through Tuesday September 13 through 17, 2019

Track Work in Southern California will affect service between Los Angeles and Chatsworth

Track work being performed from 10:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13 through 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17 will affect Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight service on the dates indicated below.

Pacific Surfliner Service, Northbound Trains Sept. 14-16:

  • Train 759 will operate as Bus 4859 from Los Angeles to Chatsworth, as Train 759 from Chatsworth to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will run north from Santa Barbara.

  • Train 763 will operate as a train from San Diego to Los Angeles, as Bus 4863 from Los Angeles to Chatsworth and as Train 1763 from Chatsworth to San Luis Obispo. Regular connecting bus service will run north from San Luis Obispo.

  • Train 767 will operate as a train from San Diego to Los Angeles, as Bus 4867 from Los Angeles to Chatsworth, Train 3767 from Chatsworth to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will run north from Santa Barbara.

  • Train 777 will operate as a train from San Diego to Los Angeles, as Bus 4877 from Los Angeles to Chatsworth and as Train 1777 from Chatsworth to San Luis Obispo. Regular connecting bus service will run north from San Luis Obispo.

  • Train 785 will operate as a train from San Diego to Los Angeles, as Bus 4885 Los Angeles to Chatsworth and as Train 1785 from Chatsworth to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will run north from Santa Barbara.

  • Trains 1761 will operate as a train from San Diego to Los Angeles, as Bus 4861 from Los Angeles to Chatsworth and as Train 3561 from Chatsworth to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will run north from Santa Barbara.

  • Train 1767 will operate as a train from San Diego to Los Angeles, as Bus 4867 from Los Angeles to Chatsworth and as Train 3767 from Chatsworth to Goleta. Regular connecting bus service will run north from Santa Barbara.

  • No alternate transportation will be provided to missed stations Glendale, Burbank or Van Nuys.

  • Trains beginning with 35 and 37, buses beginning with 48 and 17 series trains north of Chatsworth, will depart all stations later than the normal train schedule.

Pacific Surfliner Service, Southbound Trains Sept. 14-16:

  • Train 768 will operate as a train from Los Angeles to San Diego, as Bus 4868 from Chatsworth to Los Angeles and as Train 1768 from Goleta to Chatsworth. Regular connecting bus service from the north will connect at Santa Barbara.

  • Train 774 will operate as a train from Los Angeles to San Diego, as Bus 4874 from Chatsworth to Los Angeles and as Train 1774 from San Luis Obispo to Chatsworth. Regular connecting bus service from the north will connect at Santa Barbara.

  • Train 782 will operate as a train from Los Angeles to San Diego, as Bus 4882 from Chatsworth to Los Angeles and as Train 1782 from Goleta to Chatsworth. Regular connecting bus service from the north will connect at Santa Barbara.

  • Train 792 will operate as a train from Los Angeles to San Diego, as Bus 4892 from Chatsworth to Los Angeles and as Train 1792 from Goleta to Chatsworth. Regular connecting bus service from the north will connect at Santa Barbara.

  • Train 796 will operate as a train from Los Angeles to San Diego, as Bus 4896 from Chatsworth to Los Angeles and as Train 1796 from San Luis Obispo to Chatsworth. Regular connecting bus service from the north will connect at San Luis Obispo.

  • No alternate transportation will be provided to missed stations Van Nuys, Burbank or Glendale.

  • Trains beginning with 17, as well as buses beginning with 48, will depart all stations later than the normal train schedule.

Coast Starlight Train 11 Sept. 12-15 and Train 14 Sept. 14-16: will detour between Oakland and Los Angeles and will not make stops at San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Van Nuys and Burbank. Passengers traveling to those destinations can use local travel services.

  • Trains 11 and 14 may incur up to 60-minute delays on the detour route.

    • Bus 4011 will connect with Train 11 and will operate between Oakland and San Luis Obispo, making intermediate station stops at San Jose, Salinas and Paso Robles.

Paoli, PA Station Center Platform Opens

Effective September 9, 2019

Beginning Monday, September 9, all passenger boarding and deboarding will commence from the new center platform at Paoli station.


All Amtrak and SEPTA passengers will use the center platform that connects to the elevator and stairs, leading to the pedestrian overpass bridge, which accesses the north and south parking lots.

The temporary platforms on the north and south side will no longer be used, as well as the low-level boarding previously used by SEPTA passengers.

Please allow extra time to access the center platform for boarding.

Whirlpool Bridge Work Affects Maple Leaf Service

Effective Sept. 9 through Nov. 1, 2019

Beginning Monday, September 9, a major infrastructure project will begin on the Whirlpool Bridge, connecting the United States to Canada at Niagara Falls. To accommodate this work, Amtrak’s Maple Leaf Service will be adjusted as follows:

Train 63 Sept. 8 through Nov. 1

  • Train 63 which normally operates between New York Penn Station and Toronto, ON, will terminate at Niagara Falls, NY. Alternate transportation will be provided between Niagara Falls and Toronto, stopping at Niagara Falls, ON.

    • Bus 4498 will operate between Niagara Falls and Toronto with no intermediate stops at St. Catharines, ON, Grimsby, ON, Aldershot, ON and Oakville, ON.

Train 64 Sept. 9 through Nov. 2

  • Train 64 which normally operates between Toronto and New York Penn Station, will originate at Niagara Falls, NY. Alternate transportation will be provided between Toronto and Niagara Falls, stopping at Niagara Falls, ON.

    • Bus 4497 will operate between Toronto and Niagara Falls with no intermediate stops at Oakville, ON, Aldershot, ON, Grimsby, ON or St. Catharines, ON.

Proper documentation is required to cross the U.S./Canadian border.

Empire Service Schedule Changes

Effective Saturday and Sunday Sept.7-8 and 14-15, 2019

Due to track work being performed by Metro-North, all southbound trains will leave Albany 5 minutes earlier and northbound trains will leave New York 5 minutes earlier.

Train 233 will depart New York 22 minutes later and operate on a later schedule through to Albany.

Train 259 will depart New York 25 minutes later and operate on a later schedule through to Albany.

Virginia Service Schedule Changes

Effective Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019

Due to track work being performed by CSX, all trains operating between Washington, D.C. and Alexandria will see schedule adjustments as outlined below.

Train 164 which normally operates between Richmond and Boston, will originate in Washington, D.C. No alternate transportation will be provided between Richmond and Washington, D.C.

Train 195 which normally operates between Boston and Richmond, will terminate in Washington, D.C. No alternate transportation will be provided between Washington, D.C. and Richmond.

All trains operating between Washington, D.C. and Alexandria can expect 30 to 90-minute delays. Please check Amtrak.com for the most up to date schedules.

Service Expanded Between Springfield and Greenfield, MA

Effective August 30, 2019

Amtrak, in cooperation with the state of Massachusetts, is expanding service between Springfield and Greenfield, as outlined below.


  • Trains 478, 488 and 494 will terminate at Greenfield instead of Springfield. • Train 400 will run as a new train between Springfield and Greenfield.


  • Trains 461, 471 and 495 will originate in Greenfield instead of Springfield. • Train 499 will run as a new train between Greenfield and Springfield.

Carolinian Trains 79 and 80

Palmetto Train 89 and 90

Silver Star Train 92/1092

Effective July 21 through September 19, 2019

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

Sunday through Wednesday, July 21 – September 18

  • Silver Star Train 92 departing Miami on Sundays through Wednesdays will be numbered 1092.

  • Train 92 will operate on a later schedule Miami to New York. o Departs Miami at 1:50 p.m., 2 hours later than the current schedule.

    • Departs Jacksonville at 2:03 a.m., 3 hours later than the current schedule.

    • Departs Savannah at 5:22 a.m., 4 hours later than the current schedule.

  • Train 92 will stop at Wilson, NC.

  • Train 92 will operate normally Thursday through Saturday.

Monday through Thursday, July 22 -September 19

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

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

    • Trains will operate normally Friday through Sunday.

  • Palmetto Train 89 will operate normally between New York and Richmond. It will depart Richmond at 1:29 PM, 1 hour later than the current schedule.

    • Will operate on a later schedule through to Savannah.

    • Will operate normally Friday through Sunday.

Travelers’ Tip For The Week

I wanted to share a great article that I came across this week by Jamie Moore, SmarterTravel.

5 Scenic Train Rides You Can Take In The US This Fall

If you love leaf peeping, there's nothing more magical than steaming through colorful landscapes on a fall foliage train ride. Leave the driving to someone else and join one of these memorable fall train rides, which offer brilliant pockets of color throughout the United States. Settle into a historic dining car with a glass of wine or stake out a spot for your camera in an open-air car. Let the stress-free gawking begin.

Reading Blue Mountain & Northern, Pennsylvania

Ride a 1920s-era steam locomotive or diesel train to from the Reading area to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, the heart of the Pocono Mountains. The Reading Blue Mountain & Northern railroad offers 120-mile round-trip rides on weekends throughout October and the first weekend of November, giving passengers a chance to enjoy lunch in town and explore Jim Thorpe's historic buildings and museums. Hop aboard another train, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, to savor the foliage in nearby Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Tennessee Central Railway Museum, Tennessee

This volunteer organization runs a wide range of short excursions year-round, but it features three autumn-themed journeys covering up to 168 miles round-trip from Nashville. This year's offerings include a trip to celebrate Oktoberfest in Watertown, an excursion to DelMonaco Winery, and a journey to a fall festival in Baxter. The museum uses its own stable of 1950s vintage passenger cars and diesel locomotives; book a dome seat for the best views.

Napa Valley Wine Train, California

Fall in the Napa Valley is one of those unexpected sensory delights. During harvest season the air carries the aroma of fermenting grapes and changing leaves on grapevines cover the undulating landscape. The Napa Valley Wine Train is a great way to experience it without having to drive. The 36-mile trip takes you from the historic town of Napa through the countryside to the village of St. Helena and back. Enjoy vineyard views, wine tastings, and an onboard multi-course lunch or dinner in a restored early-1900s Pullman car. You also have the option to add on winery tours.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Georgia

Climb aboard on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in downtown Blue Ridge's historic 1905 depot, and ride the rails from the charming mountain village into the lush Chattahoochee National Forest, enjoying vibrant displays of sweeping color along the way. You'll stop for a layover in the Georgia/Tennessee border towns of McCaysville and Copperhill, where antique and craft shops and down-home hospitality take you back in time. Back onboard, ask a crewmember to show you around the cars and explain the history behind each one.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Ohio

Winding through the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad takes you along scenic stretches of fall color. Starting just 15 miles outside of Cleveland, the route allows passengers to hop on or off at any of nine stations to explore small towns, canal museums, and a 19th-century working farm. The route runs along several miles of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. For a small fee, you can put your bike on the train, ride a few stops, then bike back to your car. Alternatively, you can book a two-hour, nonstop trip aboard the Fall Flyer for a relaxing ride dedicated to leaf peeping; this trip operates on October weekends.

Have a ‘Travelers Tip’ you would like to share or have a question/topic you would like us to address, please drop us a message at [email protected] - Attention ‘Travelers Tips’.

Your Feedback is Important to Improving American Passenger Trains

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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.

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Planning a fall vacation including trains (and who wouldn’t want to enjoy the fall colors?), then you need a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Amazing Train Journeysguidebook! 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!

Fall MemberDeals Announced

MemberDeals is already looking ahead to October as tickets for Halloween Horror Nights are already available for purchase. Summer Concerts Series sale continues with savings over 50% exclusive for Rail Passengers members. Celebrate concert season with the hottest concerts nationwide, from Luke Bryan, Third Eye Blind, Heart and The Who to name a few. Don’t miss out!

Remember, if you want to use these great internet-only discounts, you must be a member in good standing AND be logged in to the Rail Passengers website. If you need help accessing these discounts email us at [email protected], or call the office at 202-408-8362.