Happening Now

Hotline #1,131

August 23, 2019

Federal Railroad Administration Releases Capital Grants; Texas State Representatives Urge Transportation Hearings; Prospects For Las Vegas Light Rail; City of New Orleans Fare Sale Announced New Jersey Transit To Release Operating Stats; Additional Amtrak Service To New Brunswick & Princeton Junction; NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Rides Train To State Fair; U.S. – Canadian Border Treaty Ratified; LIRR To End On-Board Cash Ticket Sales; Pennsylvania To Hold Hearing On Additional Cross-State Service; Bernie Sanders Releases Transportation Plan

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.


Three prominent speakers will be among the 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

Saturday’s Symposium sessions will feature three thematic tracks –

  • ‘Inclusion & Equity’

  • ‘Making Change Happen’

  • ‘What Passengers Want.’

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

The Federal Railroad Administration released two year’s worth of capital repair grants to support 10 passenger and commuter rail projects in 10 states, kickstarting a program that has lagged in recent years.

The $227 million in grants are part of the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair (SOGR) Program and will go to repair, replace, or rehabilitate publicly or Amtrak owned or controlled railcars, stations, and track infrastructure. These funds were appropriated by Congress in the Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 budget bills, which Rail Passengers Association leadership and members fought hard to secure.

“It’s gratifying to see the advocacy work of the Rail Passengers coalition pay off in such a big way,” said Rail Passengers Association President Jim Mathews. “It’s especially important to see the kinds of project the SOGR program is funding now that the FAST Act is drawing to a close. As we think about what comes next, we need to see exactly how this program is improving the day-to-day travel experience of America’s passengers.”

The FRA provided the following information on the SOGR awards (grants listed alphabetically by state):

Illinois – A-32 Bridge Replacement Project

Up to $17,840,000

Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (Metra)

The proposed project will construct a new grade-separated double-tracked rail bridge over Milwaukee Avenue, immediately north of the Grayland Metra Station on Metra’s Milwaukee District-North Line in Chicago, IL. The project will replace the existing structure, originally constructed circa 1899 and rated in poor condition, with a new double-track bridge that will return the crossing to a state-of-good-repair and provide future maintenance and operating cost savings.

Louisiana – New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal Platform and Plant Improvement Projects

Up to $3,700,854

City of New Orleans

The proposed project will complete the final design and construction activities to upgrade the station platforms and train servicing capabilities at the city-owned New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT). The platform modifications will bring the platforms into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), increasing platform height to provide level boarding for two Amtrak trains (Sunset Limited and City of New Orleans) and improve the step height for a third train (Crescent) that serve the station. Level boarding will improve the station’s accessibility to nearly 200,000 annual passengers boarding at NOUPT, and reduce the risk of passenger and employee injuries that currently occur at the station. Additional work will expand the rail platform canopy, update the lighting, electrical, air, and water systems that service trains at NOUPT, and these improvements will lead to increased reliability.

Massachusetts – South Station Expansion Tower 1 Early Action Project

Up to $41,183,845

Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)

The proposed project will replace and upgrade signals, switches, track, power systems, and related infrastructure at Tower 1 interlocking, a major rail network junction at the entrance to the Boston South Station terminal area. The current interlocking is a major source of delay at a location used by almost 60,000 daily rail passengers. The project provides resiliency benefits to protect Tower 1 from the risk of flooding and providing redundant power systems in the event of power loss. Operability through the interlocking will be enhanced via upgrading the interlocking signal and communication systems to more technologically advanced systems.

Michigan – Kalamazoo-Dearborn State of Good Repair Projects

Up to $23,335,165

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)

The proposed project, located on the Michigan-owned segment of the Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac corridor will rehabilitate rail, crossties, and track surfaces between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, MI, and replace two railroad bridges in Jackson, MI. The track rehabilitation project replaces approximately 80,000 ties east of Battle Creek and 15 track miles of rail east of Jackson. The project will also maintain a state of good repair and preserve passenger train speeds up to 110 mph and improve rail safety for Amtrak’s Wolverine service, which carries nearly 500,000 annual passengers. The bridge replacements at Jackson St. and Mechanic St. in the City of Jackson will replace the deteriorated existing structures with new spans. The current structures rely on temporary shoring and have sub-standard vertical clearances, resulting in frequent bridge strikes by highway vehicles. The new spans will reduce or eliminate bridge strikes and reconfigure and expand sidewalks under the structures to improve pedestrian safety.

North Carolina – Piedmont Intercity Fleet and Infrastructure Investments Project

Up to $76,888,000

North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

The proposed project involves the acquisition of 13 new passenger coaches for use in the Piedmont service and an expansion of the Charlotte Locomotive and Railcar Maintenance Facility (LRMF). The coaches will replace the 1950s and '60s-era coaches currently in use and expand overall fleet capacity. With the new coaches, Piedmont service can increase to four daily frequencies from Charlotte to Raleigh to meet growing passenger demand. Aligning with NCDOT’s equipment overhaul and state-of-good-repair program to improve parts standardization on older cars and reduce stress on inventory of irreplaceable spare parts, the project will result in tangible and measurable improved service reliability and resilience. The selected project would expand the LRMF to include additional storage tracks and interior spaces for inspection, maintenance, and repair and storage of spare parts and supplies.

New Jersey – Newark Penn Station Platform D Improvements

Up to $18,445,000

New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit)

The proposed project rehabilitates Platform D at the NJ Transit-owned Newark Penn Station in Newark, NJ. The existing platform is in poor condition, with portions of the platform closed to passenger access. The project includes repairing and/or replacing Platform D slabs and joints, reconstructing platform edges, installing new tactile strips and timber rub rails, repairing the overhead canopy and upgrading lighting. Amtrak and NJ Transit trains operate on tracks 3 and 4 at Platform D. The platform restoration will improve passenger movement and safety by reducing congestion points where passengers board and alight, and may enable reduced dwell times for trains using the restored and reopened sections of the platform. Amtrak joined with NJ Transit as co-applicant, meeting the statutory preference for applications submitted by multiple eligible applicants.

Pennsylvania – Keystone Corridor Zoo Interlocking State of Good Repair Improvements Project

Up to $15,140,236

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)

This proposed project rehabilitates and upgrades ZOO interlocking in Philadelphia at the junction of the Amtrak-owned Keystone Corridor and Northeast Corridor main lines. The project includes slope stabilization and reconstruction of retaining walls, rehabilitation of an existing but underutilized track, and switch and signal reconfiguration. The project area carries more than 8.4 million passengers on more than 35,000 Amtrak and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) passenger trains per year, as well as limited freight service. The maximum operating speeds through ZOO will increase, the additional track will provide increased capacity and operational flexibility, and modernized components will reduce infrastructure lifecycle costs. This project was selected for less than the $27,600,000 requested in the application to keep within the overall funding availability. FRA consulted with PennDOT to confirm their ability to complete the project with the available Partnership Program funding.

Rhode Island – Providence Station State of Good Repair and Capacity Project

Up to $12,500,000

Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)

The proposed project will complete a major rehabilitation of the Amtrak-owned 33-year-old Providence Station in Providence, RI, to adequately prepare for its continued future use. Providence Station serves 1.4 million annual intercity and commuter rail passengers, ranking it among the highest ridership stations in the Amtrak and MBTA networks. An interior rehabilitation will replace and repair assets, replace assets with assets that increase capacity and provide a higher level of service, including expanding the building’s footprint to the west and repurposing existing space, removing an external planter wall to open the station’s western entrance, improving ticketing and baggage operations, expanding restroom size, upgrading the public-address system with visual displays, updating interior wayfinding signage, and increasing safety for pedestrian access to the station. The project will coincide with the completion of a bus facility to the south that will revive the intermodal connection that existed between the rail and bus terminals 30 years ago.

Washington – Washington State Passenger Rail Car Replacement Project

Up to $37,500,000

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

The proposed project will procure three new consists for use in the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail service between Eugene, OR, and Vancouver, B.C., on the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor. The project will replace the three Washington State-owned Talgo VI trainsets: two used in current service and one damaged in the December 2017 derailment. The loss of the damaged trainset reduced the Amtrak Cascades schedule from six to four daily round trips. The project will enable WSDOT meet existing and anticipated passenger demand, and allow Washington to retire its Talgo VI trainsets. Additionally, the new consists will provide flexible train car capacity, reduce infrastructure lifecycle costs for the Amtrak Cascades fleet, and improve onboard amenities.

Wisconsin – Next Generation Single-Level Coach and Cab-Coach Equipment Acquisition Project

Up to $25,716,900

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)

The proposed project will replace deteriorated, outdated passenger cab-baggage and coach cars used in the Chicago–Milwaukee Amtrak Hiawatha Service with three single-level cab-coach cars and six single-level coach cars. The new equipment will adhere to the Next Generation fleet standards promulgated by the Next Generation Equipment Committee. The Hiawatha service is Amtrak’s ninth-busiest route, and its busiest route in the Midwest, serving almost 850,000 passengers annually. Replacement of the cab-baggage cars with cab-coach cars will increase seating capacity, reduce fuel consumption, increase equipment reliability, reduce crowding, and improve accessibility for passengers with disabilities.

A group of twenty Texas State Representatives, covering districts from Austin to San Antonio, delivered a bi-partisan letter to House Transportation Chair Terry Canales (D- Edinburg) this week urging the committee to open hearings on “what it would take to advance a passenger rail corridor” between the two cities. Hearings could be held on this issue prior to the 2021 legislative session if an Interim Charge is advanced by Chairman Canales and then approved by the Speaker of the House.

In the posting on the Texas Rail Associates website, TRA chairman Peter LeCody praised the letter, saying “This is an amazing show of bi-partisan support from members of the Texas House that realize we can’t move people and goods in the I-35 corridor by only laying down more concrete and asphalt. Leaders realize there must be multi-modal answers in the future so we don’t have a traffic meltdown.”

A passenger rail connection between two of the fastest growing cities in the country must be seen as a top priority for state legislators. In the next 50 years, the counties along this I-35 corridor will see an additional 2 million residents move into a region already known for some of the worst congestion issues in Texas.

TRA has also asked the Transportation Committee to consider the following:

  • The Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study – the service level report was issued in late 2017 and has not advanced further

  • An initial study by the I-20 Corridor Council on rail service from DFW to East Texas with multi-state memorandum of understandings in place for Louisiana and eastward has stalled

  • A 2011 TxDOT initial study on rail service between Houston and Austin that has not advanced

Summer By Rail Update

Be sure to follow along with Chef Madi's journey through all of 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.

An editorial in this week’s Las Vegas Sun argues that building a light rail that connects McCarran Airport with the “resort corridor” of Las Vegas Blvd could save the city from more highway congestion - even after Project Neon is finished. The three-year, $1 billion Interstate 15 lane expansion and upgrade wrapped up this summer, but it is still just a “Band-Aid on a much larger problem”. Cities like San Diego, Denver, and Tempe have all come to the realization that there is major value in building out light rail infrastructure to not only help their residents get around but each sees a high number of tourists each year that causes even more of a burden on their roads and highways.

Clark County, of which Las Vegas is the largest city and seat, was the second-fastest growing county in the entire United States in 2018 and a public transportation project such as this would go a long way in not only freeing up highway congestion, but the environmental and accessibility concerns of the people who call the area home.

(Anti-) Transit Bros

Transportation projects in this country are under attack and dark money is to blame.

August 22, 2019

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator

EDIT (8/23/19): Our condolences to the Koch Family on the news of the passing of David Koch this morning. We feel that this story remains important, and given the impending vote in Phoenix, it deserves to have light shed on it.

By now, I hope that everyone saw Sean’s call-to-arms a couple weeks ago against Prop 105 happening in Phoenix or saw some of the coverage of our SBR intern Madi Butler’s event in Tempe on the 11th.

Since then, a giant national spotlight has been placed squarely on the Prop 105 issue - thanks to the popular Netflix series “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj”. Hasan became a household name on The Daily Show and been on his own covering a variety of important topics for the last few years. As you can imagine, this one hit a little close to home.

To read the rest of Joe’s blog, go here.

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, participated in meetings at the Federal Railroad Administration this week.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, spoke with reporters about what next-generation high-speed rail equipment will mean for passengers on the NEC, and the importance of new equipment on the National Network; helped New England members of Congress develop policies to support new commuter rail; and worked with Council Members to educate Members of Congress on the necessity of long-distance routes a functional National Network.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, is in East Lansing attending the Open House on Friday and Saturday. We have had great press coverage on this event and look forward to recruiting a very nice pool of volunteers from this great community. Great local news coverage from WLNS-TV. I’ll have an update for you next week.

  • Joseph Aiello, Northeast Field Coordinator, spent part of the week setting up the Association’s “AleNation” event that will serve as the kick-off to RailNation: California in October. Joe also attended the monthly North-South Rail Link working group meeting at the MA Statehouse, as well as helped wrap up the end of the Summer by Rail event that finished in San Francisco this week (with much more content still to come).

  • Bruce Becker, Vice-President of Operations, rode with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday on the Maple Leaf, train #63, to the special New York State Fair Station (NYF) near Syracuse, for the opening day of the Fair. Amtrak provides direct service to the Fair Grounds through September 2. And on Friday, Bruce joined with Carolyn Cokley for the East Lansing, MI Station Volunteer Program Kick-Off Open House.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, traveled to Miami this week to meet with & learn about Virgin Rail USA/ Brightline’s popular new service in Florida.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, attended a membership event to think of new ideas for enhancing member services, learned to make membership cards, and spent time networking to develop a few new members.

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

For the first time since early May, full service has returned between Chicago and New Orleans on the City Of New Orleans and Amtrak is celebrating the restoration with a buy one/get one sale for people traveling between Memphis and NOLA. A combination of issues, ranging from open floodgates to pre-planned track work, caused headaches for travelers in the South all summer.

Click here to read the official Amtrak release. The sale runs through August 31st.

Beginning in October, New Jersey Transit will be mandated to release statistics on how and why many of their trains are delayed or canceled. Governor Phil Murphy signed the executive order this week that will eventually cover reports for trains, buses, light rail, and Access Link for disabled commuters. After eight years of agency cuts under former Governor Chris Christie, Murphy has made it a major goal for his time in office to “turn around NJ Transit.” These reports, along with being more transparent for riders, will go a long way to finding the root of transportation issues.

Amtrak this week added additional weekday service to Brunswick & Princeton Junction, NJ. New Brunswick will be served by four southbound and two northbound trains, and Princeton Junction will see five southbound and two northbound trains. Weekend service to two locations is also be increased.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo rode Amtrak’s ‘Maple Leaf’ from Albany to the special ‘Fair Station’ on Wednesday for the opening day of the 2019 Great New York State Fair, which runs through September 2nd. This is the first time that Governor Cuomo has ridden a train west of Albany on Amtrak’s Empire Corridor.

Gov. Cuomo Being Welcomed Aboard By LSA Shawn - Photo - flicjkr - govandrewcuomo

Amtrak has provided direct service to the Fair for many years.This year’s special deals for rail passengers include a ‘Kids Ride Free’ promotion and all rail passengers receive free admission to the Fair

The Albany-Times Union reports that the last step in the long-sought U.S. - Candian Border Treaty was been accomplished when the treaty was ratified by the Candaian Parliament this week.

The treaty will clear the way for a new inspection facility to be constructed at Montreal’s Central Station, reducing the overall trip time for Amtrak’s New York to Montreal Adirondack by at least an hour.

The funding sources to build the already-designed facility have yet to be determined, so this service improvement is at least two years away in the best case scenario.

The Long Island Rail Road will end on-board cash ticket sales effective January 1, 2020, the blog LIRR Today reported on Monday. In addition, the number of staffed ticket offices will be reduced to less than 20.

The Long Island states that riders are increasingly using less cash to purchase tickets, opting to pay digitally through electronic transactions. Onboard payment will only be by electronic tickets, credit card, and debit card. Cash payment will remain an option at ticket windows or station vending machines.

A Pennsylvania State Subcommittee On Railroads will hold a hearing on August 28th on whether a second daily service should be added from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, on route to New York City. Representatives from Norfolk Southern and Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail are expected to discuss the potential for freight and passenger-rail service in western Pennsylvania, particularly in Blair County at the hearing.

The will be held at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, is scheduled to start at 3:00pm.

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders released an ambitious $16 trillion plan to rejuvenate America’s crumbling infrastructure and combat climate change, and includes $907 billion for passenger rail and transit.

While the “Green New Deal” only features a rough outline for investment, it is notable that passenger rail would receive $607 billion in this plan, eclipsing the $300 billion set-aside for public transit. Senator Sanders clearly intends to use intercity rail as a means of reducing U.S. dependence on aviation, which is a huge driver of pollution in the transportation sector.

Read the relevant excerpts from the plan below:

Build public transit that is affordable, accessible, fast, and resilient. With a $300 billion investment, we will increase public transit ridership by 65 percent by 2030. We will ensure that reliable, affordable public transit is accessible for seniors, people with disabilities, and rural communities. In addition to expanding transit service to communities, we will promote transit-oriented development to link this service to popular destinations and vital community services. For too long, government policy has encouraged long car commutes, congestion, and dangerous emissions. The Green New Deal will reverse these trends and create more livable, connected, and vibrant communities.

Build regional high-speed rail. Many other developed nations have advanced high speed rail systems. A $607 billion investment in a regional high-speed rail system would complete the vision of the Obama administration to develop high-speed intercity rail in the United States. This new system will give travelers a meaningful affordable alternative to plane or car travel between major cities. The reason high-speed rail has not worked in the United States is because we have not built the political mobilization needed to demand the funding needed to complete this vision. Together, we will create the movement needed to develop high-speed rail.

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.

Confirmed event speakers for Saturday’s Advocacy Symposium include:

  • Yvonne Burke - Amtrak Board Member
  • Chad Edison - Deputy Secretary for Transportation - California State Transportation Agency

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

Saturday’s sessions will focus on three thematic ‘tracks – ‘Inclusion & Equity’; ‘Making Change Happen’ & ‘What Passengers Want’.

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

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!


Carbondale Station Construction Effective September 3, 2019

Please be advised that beginning the week of September 3, Carbondale station will be undergoing plaza and ramp access construction and renovation for approximately 6 weeks.

During the construction, normal access to the station will be limited. The project will be performed in two phases, with access to the station limited during both. One ADA path will remain open to and from station facilities.

Please look for signage and safety cones around the station to guide you to the station and train platform. Please use caution and allow extra time to arrive at the station.

Track Work Affects Downeaster Service

Effective Tuesdays and Thursdays Aug. 27, 29, and Sept. 10, 12, 2019

Track work being performed by Pan Am, will affect Downeaster service as described below:


  • Train 681 which normally operates between Boston North Station and Brunswick, will originate at Durham. o Bus 3681 will connect with Train 681 at Wells.

  • Train 689 which normally operates between Boston North and Brunswick, will terminate at Portland on August 26, 28 and September 11. No alternate transportation will be provided to the missed station stops of Freeport and Brunswick.

    • Train 1689 will terminate at Portland on September 9.


  • Train 682 which normally operates between Brunswick and Boston North Station, will terminate at Durham.

    • Bus 3682 will connect with Train 682 at Wells and operate nonstop between Wells and Boston North.

Trains 683, 684 and 686 will be cancelled with no alternate transportation provided.

San Joaquins Service

Effective Aug. 21-24 and 26-29, 2019

Due to track work being performed by BNSF, Amtrak San Joaquins service will be adjusted as follows:

Southbound, Aug. 21-23 and 26-28:

  • Train 718 will operate from Oakland to Merced, only.

    • Bus 1718 will operate from Merced to Bakersfield, making the station stops at Fresno and Hanford. No alternate service will be provided for Madera, Corcoran or Wasco.

    • Bus 5818 will wait at Bakersfield for connecting passengers off Bus 1718.

Northbound, Aug. 22-24 and 27-29:

  • Train 713 will operate from Merced to Oakland only.

    • Bus 1713 will operate 60 minutes earlier from Bakersfield to Merced, making the station stops at Fresno and Hanford. No alternate service will be provided for Corcoran, Wasco or Madera.

    • Bus 5413 from San Bernardino, Bus 5713 from Los Angeles and Bus 5813 from Santa Ana will operate 60 minutes earlier at all stops to Bakersfield.


Train 713

Bus 1713


8:12 AM

7:12 AM


9:34 AM

8:55 AM


10:16 AM

9:50 AM


11:23 AM

AR 11:05 AM/DP 11:23 AM

Amtrak Cal Poly Thruway Stop Temporarily Relocated

Effective August 13, 2019

Due to construction in the PAC Loop area, the Amtrak bus stop on Grand will be relocated to the PAC Loop for approximately two weeks.

Signs will be placed at the bus stop and the temporary stop for passengers. Expect slight delays due to the construction and lane reductions in the area.

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.


12:56 P.M.


3:00 P.M.


3:58 P.M.


6:57 P.M.


9:33 A.M.


Sunday Only

5:45 P.M.

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

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 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.

Travelers’ Tip For The Week

Enjoy the Journey

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from a member sharing a few details about the wonderful trip she and her husband recently took on Amtrak. She commented about the food and the comfort of the roomette they shared, “small but cozy”, she said. What made all the difference in the world to them was the care and attention afforded them by their sleeping car attendant.

Basically, she wanted Rail Passengers to know that despite the ongoing changes at Amtrak, that she and her husband appreciated the work we were doing advocating for rail passengers across the country and that they would remain avid Amtrak riders because after all, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”.

So, after boarding #29 yesterday in route to Elkhart, IN, I returned emails and made a few calls and decided to make the rest of the evening about the journey. Here is my Asian Noodle Bowl, salad, complimentary bottle of wine and organic, non-GMO, gluten-free dessert bar and the view from my roomette. My tip for the week is to enjoy the journey.

Safe travels!

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. 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.

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.