Happening Now

Hotline #1,128

August 2, 2019

Virgin Trains USA Advances Planning For Las Vegas Project; This Week’s 2019 Summer By Rail Update; Could California High Speed Rail Funds Go To Other State Projects?; Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Passes $287B Highway Re-Authorization Bill; Senate Concerned With PTC Progress: City of New Orleans Back On Full Route: Phoenix Transit Advocates Concerned With Voter Propositions; New River Gorge Will Operate This Fall; CP Rail Dampens Hiawatha Service Expansion Plans

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 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’ is pleased to announce that three prominent speakers will be featured presenters at this October’s RailNation:California Advocacy Symposium in Sacramento.

  • Yvonne Burke - Amtrak Board Member (Keynote Address On Saturday)

  • Chad Edison - Deputy Secretary for Transportation - California State Transportation Agency

  • Jim Allison - Manager of Planning - Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

Registration for the October 18 - 21 RailNation:California is now open.

Virgin Trains USA took another step towards cloning their Florida Brightline service to link southern California to Las Vegas, asking California and Nevada for permission to issue up to $3.6 billion in tax-exempt bonds.

California is set to make its decision next month and Nevada is expected to act in November. If the states approve, the plan is to start selling the private-activity bonds in the first quarter of 2020 and to start construction as soon as June.

At that pace, trains could start carrying passengers between Victorville, Calif., and Las Vegas by 2023 -- five years ahead of the California High-Speed Rail project’s earliest potential service date.

Fares are expected to be competitive with the combined cost of driving and parking, as well as against flying to Las Vegas.

We at Rail Passengers were excited about Brightline from the beginning and we’re excited to see the company pick up the pieces of the XpressWest project.

We don’t see this as some kind of anti-Amtrak -- indeed, we happen to know top Amtrak executives who are excited to see Brightline succeed -- but as an example of thought leadership and the beginnings of a change in thinking about what rail travel could be in this country.

That's why we held last year’s Fall meeting in Miami, to give members and attendees the opportunity to ride a chartered Brightline train and experience it for themselves, and then share that experience as advocates back home all across the country.

These are beautiful trainsets with wide ADA-compliant aisles, functioning bathrooms, enjoyable on-board service, spacious and thoughtfully appointed stations and fares which, while not cheap, are fully competitive in the markets they serve. Yes, America, trains really can be this good.

Meanwhile, Virgin is pressing ahead with Phase 2 of its construction in Florida to link Orlando to Miami, kicking off clearing the land for new track in Cocoa, Florida.

The project involves building up to 170 miles of brand-new track.

Summer By Rail Update

Chef Madi continued her trip this past week, visiting New Orleans and Greenwood, MS

Check out these video highlights

Be sure to follow along with Chef Madi's journey through all our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. And of course, you can find everything over at SummerByRail.com.

Want to help support Chef Madi's trip? Click here to donate.

California state lawmakers have floated a proposal to redirect high-speed rail funds away from the Central Valley spine to rail and transit projects in the more densely populated north and south.

The lawmakers, while admitting the concept was still rough, outlined a plan to delay electrification and run modern diesel equipment on the Central Valley Bakersfield - Merced spine currently under construction, and shift $4-6 billion in funding to commuter rail service in the north and the south.

“The concept is intended to maximize shorter-term benefits using the limited high-speed rail funds available, without sacrificing the long-term goals of a high-speed rail system in the state,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) told reporters.

“It is not the end of high-speed rail, but a way to save it,” added Rendon.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority responded that it doesn’t need to be one or the other, and that they’ve already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on upgrading existing rail systems in the Bay Area and Southern California. That has prepared the infrastructure to accept future high-speed service, while simultaneously improving the daily commute of Californians in the near-term.

“We’re working here to deliver early interim service that would be high-speed rail in the Central Valley,” said Brian Annis, the chief financial officer for the High-Speed Rail Authority, “and I think that need not come at the expense of regional investments in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed a $287 billion highway reauthorization bill by a unanimous vote, showing bipartisan support for increased investment in infrastructure, reducing congestion, and mitigating and preparing for climate change.

“Our committee has taken a significant step in improving our roads and bridges,” said Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY). “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will grow our economy, improve road safety, expedite important projects, and enhance quality of life for the American people. Our bipartisan legislation will help rural communities in Wyoming and major urban areas around the country.”

The bill only deals with highways—transit and intercity rail will be handled in separate pieces of legislation—but the bipartisan consensus could be indicative of things to come. Foremost, the 27 percent funding increase in the first year shows an appetite for increased spending to reverse the decline in U.S. infrastructure.

The bill also included a climate title, the first for any surface transportation legislation, designed to reduce carbon emissions, other pollutants, and increase the physical resiliency of highways to deal with more extreme weather and flooding. Highlights include:

  • $4.9 billion over 5 years in a new resiliency program to protect roads and bridges from natural disasters such as wild fires, and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, flooding, and mudslides.

  • $3 billion over 5 years in new funding distributed to states based on their current formula share to support projects that would lower highway-related carbon emissions. States can receive greater project flexibility if they meet certain emissions planning requirements.

  • Establishes a competitive grant program funded at $1 billion over 5 years, for states and localities to build hydrogen, natural gas, and electric vehicle fueling infrastructure along designated highway corridors, which lack such infrastructure.

  • Creates a new program to help states reduce traffic congestion ($200 million over 5 years), and a new program to reduce truck idling at ports ($370 million over 5 years.

The bill will need cooperation from the Senate Finance Committee to find new revenue, and Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has said he won’t move on it until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) greenlights a conversation on raising the gasoline tax.

“[McConnell] doesn’t want the Republican Party to be the party of a tax increase,” Grassley said.

The gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993—and has actually gotten lower, over time, as inflation reduces its purchasing power. Congress has subsidized the Highway Trust Fund with $145 billion in general revenue over the past decade.

Transit and Rail Stuck in the Slow Lane

There was no word on when the Senate Banking Committee would move the transit counterpart.

“We’re begging [Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID)] to move on it,” Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told reporters this week. “Nothing yet. But it’s really, really, really important.” Brown added that “the problem in the Banking Committee” only one Republican on the entire Banking Committee has a major transit system in their state, so “they just don’t think about it much.”

The Senate Commerce Committee has already held hearings on the reauthorization, and is expected to continue the process throughout the fall.

During a hearing this week Senators on the Commerce Committee raised concerns that railroads were not moving quickly enough to implement positive train control technology.

The next big hurdle for railroads to get their trains communicating with other rail users on shared lines, according to testimony from the hearing. Interoperability is the most pressing issue for positive train control implementation by the December 2020 deadline, Susan Fleming, director of physical infrastructure at the Government Accountability Office, told the senators.

“Collectively, of the 227 unique host-tenant relationships that require interoperability, FRA reported that railroads had achieved interoperability for 38 (17 percent) of these relationships,” Fleming said.

As an example, Metra, the Chicago commuter rail system, is struggling with constant software updates, 31 to date, to fix glitches affecting interoperability, Jim Derwinski CEO of Metra, said. He also noted that railroads have significant operational and capital demands and that more federal funds could help railroads meet the December 2020 deadline.

“If we can’t implement PTC, it is due to a lack of will not technological knowledge and certainly not resources, because the nation has the resources,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.

The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded since 2008 more than $2.5 billion in grants and loans towards PTC, Ronald Batory, the administrator of the FRA, said in prepared testimony.

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, got to do a lot of train riding during the past week, along with a lot of eating. Jim traveled to New Orleans, Greenwood, Mississippi, and Memphis as part of the Summer by Rail initiative, meeting with elected officials, convention and visitors bureau leaders and the business community. Jim experienced first-hand the disruption caused by the flooding in Louisiana, as his first City of New Orleans “segment” was on a bus from New Orleans to Jackson. As this year’s theme is food destinations you can reach by rail, Jim shared a genuine southern dinner with Greenwood Mayor Carolyn McAdams hosted by Greenwood-based Viking Range. In-between talk about duck confit and spicy pickles, Jim, the Mayor and the other dinner companions talked about how vital rail service is for helping towns like Greenwood survive and thrive. We also talked about the Mayor’s ambitious plans for the Greenwood train station and how Rail Passengers can help.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, met with several Congressional offices to discuss the rail reauthorization and Positive Train Control implementation, advancing passenger interests as this important piece of legislation is developed.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, had a very productive conversation with a Lawrence KS city official to seek out support for station volunteer efforts at the station. The date for the station volunteer kickoff at the East Lansing station is Friday, August 23, 6:00p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, August 24, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. More to come.

  • Joseph Aiello, Northeast Field Coordinator, testified this week before the Boston City Council's Planning, Development, and Transportation Committee at a hearing on the North-South Rail Link. Joe was featured on a panel that included John Kyper from MA Sierra Club, Jarred Johnson from TransitMatters, and Governor Michael Dukakis. Joe has spent the rest of the week joining Chef Madi in Chicago and Milwaukee as part of Summer By Rail.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, started the week in Memphis finishing up her Summer By Rail travel. Thank you notes are sent to host locations upon Chef Madi’s departure including a request to debrief. We’ve received very positive feedback from that outreach and calls are being scheduled. Jonsie had phone calls with corporate partner and RailNation:California sponsor prospects. To help tell the Rail Passengers story to partner/sponsor prospects, Jonsie also spent time working with Weinstein Carnegie providing design and copy edits to new collateral materials.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, spent the week developing member communications and internal process documentation.

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

The City of New Orleans resumed service over its entire Chicago to New Orleans route this past week, after flooding in the lower Mississippi Valley subsided enough for the Bonnet Carre Spillway to be closed. The train had for several weeks been turning in Jackson, MS, with the Jackson to New Orleans segment being covered by busses.

Transit advocates in Phoenix are concerned that two upcoming voter propositions (#105 & #106) could hurt the prospect for future transit development in the region. Phoenix, the fifth-largest city in the United States saw its first light rail line open 10 years ago, which has spurred over $11 billion in public & private investment in the corridor and generating more than 35,000 jobs within a half mile of light rail.

A substantial group of elected officials, unions, business associations and other prominent political players have teamed up to oppose both initiatives under the political committee "Invest in PHX." Councilwomen Debra Stark and Laura Pastor are the co-chairs of the committee.

Tony Cani, the campaign manager for Invest in PHX, said it made sense to oppose both initiatives with the same campaign since his group believes both would preclude the city from making "smart investments" for the future.

He said the passage of Prop 105 would throw away decades of transportation planning and force the city to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants reserved for transit projects.

Connecticut's Shore Line East Commuter Trains return to full service on Monday, August 5, after a year-long infrastructure improvement program between New Haven and Brantford on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which had required schedule adjustments and some bus substitutions.

The popular New River Gorge Train is set to operate this fall under new management. In an announcement which was expected today, Rail Excursion Management Co., headed by experienced rail operators Adam Auxier, Lou Capwell, and Mike Voiland, will release the details of the weekend trips to be operated on October 25 - 27.

Direct summer-season weekend through service between New York City and Pittsfield, MA is expected to start in 2020, after the necessary funding was included in the recently enacted Massauchusetts state budget.

The trains will be extensions of current Empire Corridor operations, providing northbound service on Fridays to Pittsfield and southbound back to New York on Sundays. The trains will reverse directions at Albany-Rensselaer both ways.

Canadian Pacific Railway has put a potential damper this week on plans for additional future Hiawatha service. CP Rail, the host railroad for much of the Hiawatha route, has released a letter to the state’s rail program manager saying it will not support additional service without additional improvements in Illinois.

Signed by C.E. Hubbard, CP's director interline and passenger – South, the letter informed Wisconsin officials that applying for and receiving federal grants to increase Canadian Pacific track capacity and efficiency in the Milwaukee terminal area and at the railroad’s Muskego Yard would not guarantee that the railroad would agree to any more frequencies unless the Illinois improvements are also included.

In the letter Hubbard stated, “Should WisDOT do so, it does at its sole risk that there will be no additional Hiawatha train starts,” arguing that the additional trains, “would unreasonably interfere with the adequacy, safety, and efficiency of our existing operations.”

Our Best Fall Meeting Yet! Make Plans Now For 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.

Confirmed event speakers include:

  • Yvonne Burke - Amtrak Board Member (Keynote Address On Saturday)

  • Chad Edison - Deputy Secretary for Transportation - California State Transportation Agency

  • Jim Allison - Manager of Planning - Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

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

FYI...Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations at the host hotel, the historic 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 us 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, lead by Rail Passengers’ Vice-President of Policy Sean Jeans-Gail, will be held on Friday, October 18, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

This session will help advocates answer the question “I’m just one person, what change can I affect”?

Through this hands-on, interactive and engaging Advocacy Workshop attendees will be provided with the tools to advocate and hopefully change their perception of impact. Learning from the best in transportation advocacy at the local, state and national levels, attendees will leave with a tool-kit to help them educate, inform and communicate with others as to their cause.

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!


Auto Train Enhancements

Effective by 2020

Over the next six months, Amtrak will be introducing several changes and enhancements to the Auto Train customer experience as outlined below.

Sleeping Car Customers:

  • More room availability, including Roomette, Bedroom, Family Bedroom and Accessible Bedroom

  • Upgraded bedding, towels, linens and other pleasantries added to every room

  • New sleeping car menu for dinner and breakfast

  • Complimentary red or white wine with dinner

  • Complimentary meals offered exclusively for sleeping car customers beginning January 15, 2020

Coach Class:

  • Introduction of the Cross-Country Café for Coach customer dining, offering an expanded café menu of meals, snacks and beverages for purchase

  • Effective January 15, 2020, Coach class tickets will no longer include complimentary dinner service

  • A complimentary continental breakfast will be available for Coach customers in the Cross-Country Café prior to arrival in Lorton or Sanford

  • One-way fares for Coach remain low, starting at $89 + cost of vehicle

Updates to Service by 2020:

  • For those customers traveling in small groups: Share Fares will be expanded to include Auto Train on select departures, offering discounted travel up to 35%

  • For those customers who can pack more into their car: the introduction of an ‘Oversized Vehicles’ fare for minivans, full-size pick-up trucks and SUVs with 3+ rows

  • An opportunity for complimentary priority offload: Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Executive members will now receive a complimentary priority offload coupon as part of their tier member benefits.

All customers will now have a wider variety of food options prior to travel with the introduction of food trucks on-site in Lorton and Sanford for all departing customers.

Saluki Service Trains 390, 391 and 393

Effective August 2, 2019

Due to track improvements being performed by Canadian National Railway, Trains 390, 391 and 393 will be impacted as follows:

  • Train 390 which normally operates between Carbondale and Chicago, will terminate at Champaign-Urbana. Alternate service will be provided as described below.

    • Bus 3390 will operate 16 to 20 minutes later than train schedule.

  • Train 391 which normally operates between Chicago and Carbondale, will originate at Champaign-Urbana. Alternate service will be provided as described below.

    • Bus 3391 will operate up to 75 minutes earlier than train schedule.

  • Train 393 may encounter delays of 30 to 60 minutes

Alternate Transportation To:

3390 Read Up

3391 Read Down


1:20 P.M.

7:00 A.M.


12:01 P.M.

7:41 A.M.


11:31 A.M.

8:07 A.M.


11:09 A.M.

8:29 A.M.


10:43 A.M.

8:55 A.M.

Champaign-Urbana AR/DP

10:11 A.M./10:30 A.M.

10:00 A.M./10:45 A.M.

Empire Service Trains 281, 283, 284 and 288

Maple Leaf Trains 63 and 64

Special Stop at NY State Fair

Aug. 21 through Sept. 2, 2019

Select Empire Service and Maple Leaf trains will make a special stop between Rochester and Syracuse at the New York State Fair from Aug. 21 through Sept. 2. Schedule is below.

Trains 64, 284 and 288 will depart Niagara Falls, Buffalo Exchange Street, Buffalo Depew and Rochester 10 minutes earlier to accommodate the added stop.


Daily NY State Fair Stop



1:21 P.M.


12:35 P.M.


3:00 P.M.


3:58 P.M.


6:57 P.M.


9:33 A.M.


5:45 P.M.

Keystone Service Schedule Changes

Effective Aug. 4, 2019

Due to storm damage repairs along the Keystone Service line, some schedules will be affected on August 4, only.


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

  • Train 670 will operate 5 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Lancaster

  • Trains 672 and 674 will operate 11 to 12 minutes later from Harrisburg to Ardmore and arrive 10 minutes later into Philadelphia.


  • Train 615 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Downingtown, 3 minutes later from Coatesville and Parkesburg and 15 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

  • Train 661 will operate 15 minutes later from Coatesville to Parkesburg and 25 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

  • Train 663 will operate 7 minutes later from Coatesville, 11 minutes later from Parkesburg and 25 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

  • Train 665 will operate 10 minutes later from Coatesville to Parkesburg and 25 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

  • Train 667 will operate 7 minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Downingtown, 3 minutes later to Coatesville, 8 minutes later to Parkesburg and 18 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

  • Train 669 will operate 9 minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Downingtown, 1 minute later to Coatesville, 11 minutes later to Parkesburg and 16 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

  • Train 671 will operate 10 minutes later from Coatesville to Parkesburg and 25 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.

Fullerton Station Boarding Track Changes

Monday through Friday

August 5 - 9 and 12 - 16, 2019

Pacific Surfliner morning trains will use the opposite track at the Fullerton station, to provide more reliable service for our customers, Monday through Friday, August 5 through 9 and August 12 through 16.


  • Northbound passengers traveling to or from Los Angeles on Trains 561, 565, 569, 763 and 767 will use Track 3.

  • Southbound passengers traveling to or from San Diego on Trains 562, 564, 566, 572, 768 and 774 will use Track 1.

Track Work Affects Empire Builder Service

Effective Aug. 4 through Aug. 5, 2019

Bridge work being performed by BNSF, will affect Empire Builder service as described below:

Sunday and Monday, Aug. 4 and 5

  • Westbound Train 27 which normally operates between Chicago and Portland, will terminate at Spokane. Alternate transportation will be provided to the missed station stops of Wishram, Bingen-White Salmon, Vancouver and Portland.

    • Bus 6027 will operate from Spokane to Portland connecting with Train 27 at Spokane.

  • Eastbound Train 28 which normally operates between Portland and Chicago, will originate at Spokane. Alternate transportation will be provided to the missed station stops of Portland, Vancouver, Bingen-White Salmon and Wishram.

    • Bus 6028 will operate from Portland to Spokane connecting with Train 28 at Spokane.

SR-60 Pavement Project Affects Amtrak Thruway Bus Service

Effective Late July 2019 through Fall 2021

Beginning in late July 2019, Caltrans will begin multiple projects to improve safety and traffic flow on State Route 60. The first phase of this project will affect Amtrak Thruway service beginning late July through Fall 2019.

Thruway Buses Affected

  • Bus 5416 will not stop at Riverside on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

  • Bus 5413 will not stop at Riverside on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays o Passengers may board at San Bernardino

  • Buses 5402 and 5412 will not stop at Riverside on Saturdays and Sundays

  • Buses 5415 and 5417 will not stop at Riverside on Saturdays and Sundays o Passengers may board at San Bernardino

  • Buses 5410 and 5419 will not stop at Riverside, Riverside-Moreno Valley, Perris or Sun City-Menifee on Saturdays and Sundays o Passengers normally boarding at Riverside or Riverside-Moreno Valley may board at San Bernardino.

    • Passengers normally boarding at Perris or Sun City-Menifee may board at Hemet

City of New Orleans Trains 58,59 Track Work Affects Service

July 29 through Aug. 8, 2019

Due to track work being performed by Canadian National Railway, the schedule of Trains 58 and 59 will be adjusted as shown below.

Monday, July 29 through Friday, Aug. 2:

  • Northbound Train 58 will depart Jackson at 7:44 pm, 2 hours later than normal, and operate on a later schedule through to Chicago.

    • Northbound buses traveling from New Orleans to Jackson, will operate 2 hours later at all stations.

  • Southbound Train 59 will depart Chicago at 9:05 pm, 1 hour later than normal and operate on a later schedule at all stations from Chicago to Jackson.

    • Southbound buses will operate 1 hour later at all stations between Jackson and New Orleans.

Monday, Aug. 5 through Thursday, Aug. 8:

  • Northbound Train 58, which normally operates between New Orleans and Chicago, will originate in Memphis.

  • Southbound Train 59, which normally operates between Chicago and New Orleans, will terminate in Memphis.

  • Trains 58 and 59 will operate on a normal schedule between Chicago and Memphis.

  • Alternate transportation will be provided between Memphis and Jackson. o There will be no alternate transportation to the missed station stops of Marks, Greenwood or Yazoo City.

Creston Amtrak Service Moves to a New Location

Effective Aug. 1, 2019

Amtrak is pleased to announce that Amtrak service in Creston, IA, will move to the newly restored, historic, Creston station at the address below:

116 West Adams St., Creston, IA 50801

The facility includes the restored historic waiting room as well as ADA upgrades, including new doors, ADA parking and restrooms.

Passengers will still board from the same platform, which is now connected by a new pathway to the restored historic Creston station. The station will open 30 minutes prior to train arrival and close 30 minutes after departure.

Keystone Service Schedule Changes

Effective through Sept. 6, 2019

Due to track work being performed along the Keystone Service line, some schedules will be affected through Sept. 6 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 3 minutes later 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

Southwest Chief Train 4

Effective Monday, July 22, 2019

To improve reliability, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief schedule will be adjusted as follows:

Beginning Monday, July 22

Train 4 will operate 10 minutes later from Barstow to Gallup. It will operate on the current schedule from Albuquerque to Chicago.

St. Cloud Station Parking Lot Temporarily Closed

Effective July 25, 2019

Please be advised that the St. Cloud station parking lot will be undergoing improvements beginning July 25.

During this time, the parking lots will not be accessible. All passengers will need to find street parking. Passengers will have access to the station by foot during the project.

See image below.

St. Cloud Station Parking Lot

The small concrete lot southeast of the station will remain accessible for ADA parking. Please leave extra time to get from your car to the station.

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.

Adirondack Service Schedule Change Trains 68 and 69

July 15 through Aug. 30, 2019

Due to anticipated Canadian National Railway heat restrictions this summer, Amtrak Adirondack service will have schedule changes in Canada from July 15 through Aug. 30.


Train 68 will depart Montreal 10 minutes earlier, arrive 10 minutes earlier at St. Lambert and arrive at current time in Rouses Point.


Train 69 will depart St. Lambert 10 minutes later and arrive 10 minutes later in Montreal.

Adjusted Empire Service During Saratoga Race Season

July 13 through Aug. 31, 2019

Beginning July 13, Empire Service will run revised schedules on Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate travel during the Saratoga Race Season, as outlined below.


  • Train 296 will operate Saturdays and Sundays departing Saratoga at 6:47pm for Albany, Hudson Valley points and New York City


  • Train 295 will operate on Saturdays and Sundays arriving at Saratoga at 6:50pm from New York City and points south.

Same-day weekend round trips to/from New York to Saratoga are possible utilizing northbound train #69 and southbound #296

Travelers’ Tip For The Week

New York City, Chicago and Washington, DC are the biggest transfer points in the National Network and since Amtrak transports you directly to the heart of these major cities, take advantage of your destination and explore some gastronomical and cultural options right outside the station doors.

I have explored the Pennsy and relish in trying something new every time I am in New York. The Pennsy, right at Penn Station, is an innovative chef driven food hall with a large outdoor beer garden next to Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. It is the place to meet before or after an event or while waiting for your train.

Transferring in Chicago? The Museum Campus is a 57-acre museum park that sits near Lake Michigan and surrounds three of the city's most notable museums, all dedicated to the natural sciences: the Adler Planetarium; the Shedd Aquarium; and the Field Museum of Natural History. It is also known for holding the Soldier Field football stadium and the Lakeside Center of the McCormick Place.

Our nation’s capital always has something to offer no matter if you have one or four hours. This is my back yard that I have had the great pleasure playing in for the past 35 years. The one thing that you cannot pass up is the Smithsonian Institution. Some claim DC is the museum capital of the world, so you won't be shortchanged on options which includes 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park. No matter what your interest, there's bound to be a museum in DC that fascinates.

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

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 problem in accessing the file, please send an email to [email protected]

Planning a summer vacation including trains (and who wouldn’t be?), 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!

August MemberDeals Announced

While it’s still summer, 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.

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.

Openings Available For Rail Passengers State Council Representatives

The following vacancies now exist for state representatives on the Rail Passengers Council of Representatives: Alabama (1 opening); California (6 openings); Idaho (1 opening); Illinois (1 opening); Louisiana (1 opening); Minnesota (1 opening); North Dakota (1 opening); Ohio (2 openings); Utah (1 opening); Washington State (1 opening); Wyoming (1 opening)

If you are interested in becoming more involved in passenger rail advocacy and serving in a Rail Passengers leadership role, this is your opportunity to be considered for an appointment by the Board of Directors to an open state representative seat. There is no deadline to apply and submissions will be considered on a rolling basis as they are received.

Please review the position responsibilities & required qualifications and complete & submit a Candidate Information Statement if you would like to seek a position.