Happening Now

Hotline #1,132

August 30, 2019

Grant For Gulf Coast Service Announced; Rep. Peter DeFazio Supports National Network; Rail Passengers Urge Dining Upgrades; Summer By Rail Wrap Up; Hurricane Dorian Effects Florida Services; Gateway Project Revisions; Acela II Interior Views; Knowledge Corridor Service Expansion; Phoenix Voters Support Light Rail; Kansas City Transit May Become Free

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 many 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’

Track #1 - ‘Inclusion & Equity’ will highlight that transportation and mobility are about more than vehicles. They are about connecting people to economic opportunity. The track will focus on exploring the ways we use rail and public transportation to link states and regions, as tools of inclusiveness and fairness – and the ways we don’t, but should. Topics to be addressed include: confronting gentrification in transit development; impact of cashless fare payment systems on the unbanked; the lack of younger people, women and people of color in U.S. transportation policymaking; giving a voice to everyone affected by transportation policy discussions/decisions; transportation needs of the country’s mobility challenged and impaired citizens and zero-sum thinking in transit development and deployment.

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

On Thursday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and Senator Roger Wicker Announced $21.0 Million in federal grants for Mississippi, which included $4.36 million in Federal Railroad Administration Restoration and Enhancement funds, awarded to the Southern Rail Commission for the restoration of at least one year of service between New Orleans, LA and Mobile, AL. Two daily round-trips are planned and would be a first step toward eventual restoration of through service to Florida. While Mississippi and Louisiana have already committed to a necessary local match to support the proposed service, Alabama has yet to agree to make a similar required match.

House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio of Oregon made good use this week of his bully pulpit, going home to Eugene, Ore., for a rally and roundtable to highlight the dangers still posed to long-distance trains by the Trump Administration’s vehement opposition to maintaining the National Network.

Strong work by Rail Passengers DC staff and citizen-advocates around the country has helped galvanize Congress to oppose these cutbacks, but DeFazio’s hometown session is a good reminder that there’s no room for complacency and we have to remain vigilant.

Like other National Network trains, the Coast Starlight between Seattle and Los Angeles remains a target within Trump Administration budget proposals. Only a strong committed congressional coalition -- strengthened by public engagement with those congressional members and relationships such as those forged by your DC Rail Passengers staff with key congressional offices -- stands between the current Administration and train-offs.

Participants in DeFazio’s roundtable -- Union Pacific, Amtrak, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the governor’s office, along with state Rep. Nancy Nathanson and Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis -- agreed that improving passenger rail service will improve Eugene’s economy and mitigate environmental harm, whether that means adding to the Cascades service or preserving the Starlight.

The argument about the Coast Starlight continues to peddle in half-truths and misunderstandings about the reality of long-distance rail and the vital role it plays in stitching together economies around the country, multiplying wealth along the way.

The Trump Administration still points to long-distance trains as “money-losers,” noting that the Coast Starlight costs about $46 million in investment each year. But as usual, this fails to examine what communities GET for that $46 million, and generally economic benefits to the communities reach three, four, five or even six times what is spent on the service.

Amtrak doesn’t make the profit, the communities do. And that’s as it should be, since the taxpayers pay to have an Amtrak to make their communities better off. Communities like Eugene are simply collecting the return-on-equity of their decades of investment in National Network trains. They’ve earned it. Just like the hundreds of other Amtrak-served communities.

Transportation Chair DeFazio underscored that point during his session this week while discussing the Coast Starlight’s fate: “I now chair the transportation committee. I will have to OK that. I will not be OK'ing the president killing the Coast Starlight.”

After weeks of back-and-forth with Amtrak over food-and-beverage changes, we’re giving some of the top customer experience managers at the railroad food for thought on the shortcomings of the Contemporary Dining food-service model...and how they need to make it better.

Of all the suggestions and issues our staff and our members raised with them, so far Amtrak has only addressed one -- the need for a hot dining option.

Since last year, we've been meeting informally with Amtrak leaders and executives to try to work out something better. It appears Amtrak is simply barreling ahead with an offering that remains flawed and potentially threatens the attractiveness of the trains without substantively addressing the shortcomings we identified.

It's fair to say that despite the handcuffs on Amtrak (such as the "Mica" provision that Food & Beverage at Amtrak must break even, or the even-sillier notion that Amtrak must turn a profit), our Members believe they can do better when it comes to feeding passengers.

Here's what we have asked for from day one:

  • More hot choices

  • Consideration for dietary needs such as kosher requirements, vegetarian, low-sodium/healthy, and common allergies

  • Better presentation (no more dinner-in-a-box!)

  • Better provisioning (diners should not run out of food in the first few hours of an overnight journey)

  • Continue to allow Coach passengers to buy meals in the diner if they choose

Head over to the blog to read more about our objections, and to see our new letter to Amtrak leadership looking for hard answers -- in writing -- to these questions and concerns.

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.

Summer By Rail Update

Summer by Rail 2019 may have ended, but there is more content still to come! Be sure to go back and check up 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 Summer by Rail? Click here to donate.

With Hurricane Dorian bearing down on Central Florida, Virgin Trains’ Brightline is modifying schedules and reminding residents to take steps to secure their safety.

The railroad said today that it will shut down service after Saturday while reducing fares to $5 in the run-up to the shutdown to help residents make final preparations. They’re also securing all of the construction sites to minimize the risk from flying debris and flooding, and working to secure all the rail crossings.

“Hurricane Dorian has the potential to have a catastrophic impact on the state of Florida and we encourage everyone to take warnings seriously,” said Brightline President Patrick Goddard. “Please follow your hurricane check-list and make arrangements now to ensure you and loved ones are safe before, during and after the storm.”

All of us at Rail Passengers wish our partners at Brightline good luck as they weather yet another serious hurricane in Florida.

Victory (2:1) in the Valley of the Sun

Four-time public vote champion Phoenix Light Rail wins again!

August 30, 2019

by Madi Butler

It is with pride that we congratulate the efforts of the multitudes of citizens, organizers, volunteers, and elected officials that fought hard to end this reckless and short-sighted proposition. This is testimony to the efficacy of grassroots organizing, coalition-building, and citizen engagement. After I left the event in Phoenix earlier this month, I felt confident in those involved at a local level. I do want to thank members of the Southwest Transit Memes for Desert-Oriented Teens and Urban Phoenix Project, as well as the community at large for their support and candor. It was nice to hear first hand from local organizers as we at the Association do what we can to support their initiatives and call out those outside forces miring the integrity of the local democratic vote.

To read more of Madi’s thoughts on this important victory, continue 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, spent a lot of time this week on food-and-beverage and on-time performance issues this week after a busy time last week voting in the two-day FRA Passenger Safety Working Group meeting and traveling to New York City to meet with Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, is on a well-earned holiday and will return after Labor Day.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, continues working with Amtrak and MDOT to plan next steps for the East Lansing Station Volunteer Program. The Open House was a great success. MARP members turned out in force to support and sign up for the program as did members of the community. Date for training will be announced shortly.

  • Joseph Aiello, Northeast Field Coordinator, spent this week working on plans for RailNation:California, as well as the Ale Nation Networkig kick-off event.

  • Bruce Becker, Vice-President of Operations, last weekend joined with Carolyn Cokley for the Kick-Off Open House for East Lansing, MI Station Volunteer Program.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, spent the majority of the week discussing the Community Partners Program with prospective partners.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, was out of the office this week.

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

In a new effort to move forward with federal permitting, an updated Gateway Project financial plan was submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) after work was completed at the request of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. The newly projected costs place the construction and rehabilitation of the Hudson River Tunnel about $1.4B less than originally planned, placing the overall project at an estimated cost of $11.3B. The funding levels from Amtrak have also been adjusted to better reflect the number of passengers trips through the completed trans-Hudson rail tunnel.

The completed work was done in an effort to position the construction to advance quickly once the federal permits are issued, including an agreement from the project partner’s to request an “Early Systems Work Agreement” which would allow tunnel boring to start right away in anticipation of receiving the full amount of federal grant money. According to an article in Mass Transit, the financial plan also includes:

  • Fully maintaining the local partner’s previous commitment of $5.55 billion towards the project, which, following the reduction in overall project cost, allows $700 million to be committed to the local share of rehabilitating the damaged North River Tunnel (the existing 108 year-old one-track-in, one-track-out link between New York and the entire Northeast Corridor).

  • The Port Authority continuing as the project sponsor for the new Hudson Tunnel, while the newly established bi-state Gateway Development Commission is constituted.

  • Responsibly updating the project’s projected start of major construction to early 2021, since the Federal government has yet to provide a Record of Decision on the EIS that was completed in under 22 months in February of 2018, or to move the project’s funding forward.

Governor Cuomo stated that the new plan “demonstrates that the states are doing everything possible to facilitate federal participation” and that both New York and New Jersey are focused on getting this project completed. Governor Murphy added that the Gateway Program “delivers critical safety improvements across the most urgently needed infrastructure projects in the country”.

Amtrak this week provided an interior tour of an Acela II Trainset mock-up at a press event held at a Alstom facility in New Castle, DE. The first trainset, being constructed by Alstom in Hornell, NY, is expected to enter testing later this year and revenue service with the new equipment is expected starting in 2021.

Amtrak's Caroline Decker Shows Off The First Class Seating

Cafe Car Interior

Business Class Seating

Photo Credit - Ralph Spielman

Additional Amtrak service on Massauchusetts ‘Knowledge Corridor’ started today. The two new daily round-trip ‘Valley Flyer’ trains will serve Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke & Springfield and are extensions of existing New Haven, CT to Springfield, MA Amtrak shuttle trains.

In celebration of the new state supported service, Amtrak is offering Amtrak is offering customers 25% off full fares on the Valley Flyer. Valid for sale and travel through Thursday, October 31. Tickets are now available and can be found on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak app, Amtrak ticket desks and kiosks, and through 1-800-USA-RAIL. The 25% savings will be applied to the purchase when using discount code V459.

Amtrak took delivery of two additional new Viewliner II baggage-dorm cars from CAF this week. The delivery of Viewliner II sleeping cars is expected to get underway this fall.

With traffic in the Great Boston Region getting seemingly worse by the day, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said this week that the two states are talking to Amtrak in an effort to explore an express train between Boston and Providence. The two were attending the National Governors Association's Infrastructure Stakeholder Summit in Boston - which attracted four governors and transportation experts from 32 states - was focused on finding ways to use investment and technology to help reduce traffic and congestion.

While there are a number of challenges to such a service change, including capacity and scheduling issues, Governor Raimondo is behind the idea: “We need more [rail service], and it has to be faster. Having just driven up here this morning, I can tell you the traffic is brutal.” The MBTA has been pursuing a lease of electric trains from Amtrak and should know sometime next month is they would be available for a pilot program.

In an overwhelming 2-to-1 vote, residents of Phoenix took to the ballot box in support of keeping and expanding their light rail network. This is the fourth time this century that voters have needed to step up in a special election to vote for public transportation. Over 180k votes were cast, the most ever for a ballot measure-only election, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego took to social media to thank the voters for overcoming “outside special interests” and deciding what is best for their city.

For more on the grassroots effort to defeat Prop 105, read Madi Butler’s blog here.

Kansas City may become the first major U.S. city with a totally free transit system. Robbie Makinen, CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, has already eliminated fares for some groups, including veterans now ride free and many K-12 & college students. Makinen has also forged partnerships with businesses that grant their employees free fares. And most recently, KCATA announced a partnership with local safety-net providers that allows them to distribute free rides to their clients. In all, about 25 percent of KCATA riders don’t pay to ride.

Kansas City’s newly elected Mayor Quinton Lucas is also on board with the idea of zeroing out fares entirely, nodding toward the goal in this month’s inauguration address: “We will still have important work to do … to ensure we’re continuing our steps toward free public bus transit for all in our city,” Lucas said.

The Federal Transit Administration is seeking public comment on its proposal to revise its project management oversight (PMO) rule, which guides federal oversight of large transit capital investments.

The proposed changes would streamline the PMO regulation by reducing the number of projects subject to FTA project management oversight, FTA officials said in a press release.

The agency published a notice of proposed rulemaking this week in the Federal Register. Under the proposal, the new rule would redefine a "major capital project" as a new rail transit or bus rapid transit project — or an extension, rehabilitation or modernization of an existing transit system — with a total project cost of $300 million or more and with a federal investment of $100 million or more. The previous threshold defined a major capital project as one costing $100 million or more, but did not include federal support as a factor.

East Lansing Station Volunteer Program Open House

By Carolyn Stagger Cokley

I had the great pleasure of spending a couple of days in East Lansing, MI organizing the open house for the Station Volunteer Program that took place on Friday and Saturday, August 23-24, 2019. I was joined by my Rail Passengers Association colleague Bruce Becker and several members of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) who helped to make the open house a great success. Amtrak, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Capital Area Transportation Area (CATA) and Michigan State University (MSU), along with MARP were involved from day one to make this happen. It was truly a collaborative effort that would not have been as successful if all partners had not agreed that East Lansing was a great place to make this happen.

The event benefited from great media coverage from local station WLNS-TV and East Lansing Info local news. MARP Executive Committee members Joshua Hamilton and Steve Vagnozzi were interviewed by local media and put local faces on the program and the event.

Joshua Hamilton will serve as the Station Volunteer Manager. Josh is a husband, father, Youth Ministry Director, MARP and Midwest High Speed Rail Association Chair, Lansing resident and MSU alumnus. Josh is a public transportation advocate who has his finger on the pulse of what the riding public needs and what the Lansing community has to offer.

"I am excited to begin my work as the volunteer station manager, and my hope is that we can be the smiling and helpful face of the Lansing region to the thousands of passengers coming in and out of our station every year. I have a passion for good public transportation, and I think a volunteer station host program will be an effective way for our region to take community ownership over this highly used station which draws students, commuters, vacationers, businesspeople, and so much more into our beautiful community", says Josh.

Potential volunteers filled out applications and are undergoing background checks provided by the Amtrak Police Department. All successful candidates will then attend a mandatory training class where they will be trained by Amtrak’s District Station Manager and Amtrak Police on Amtrak Operations and Customer Service policies, ADA procedures, and safety and emergency protocols. Ongoing and refresher trainings will be scheduled to accommodate new volunteers as they enter the program and as needed.

While the roles of the station volunteer may adapt to the needs of each station, the primary roles of all station volunteers are:

  • Meet and greet passengers and serve as goodwill ambassadors for the community and Amtrak.

  • Volunteer a mandatory minimum number of hours per month.

  • Actively promote the community, its businesses and stakeholders.

  • Successfully promote rail travel.

  • Promote rail safety in the station and onboard the train.

  • Be familiar with and follow all Amtrak and host railroad policies and procedures.

  • Be familiar with emergency procedure plans including key contacts.

  • Present a professional, uniformed appearance.

  • Interact with and communicate effectively with Amtrak train crews and other Amtrak personnel, passengers and others.

  • Complete regular, significant station reports.

Volunteers will initially staff the station’s busiest day of the week, Friday and once the details have been worked out and everyone is comfortable with schedules and staffing, volunteer coverage will expand to additional days.

Thanks again to MARP members who came out to volunteer and to support the effort. We could not have done it without you.

Funded by Califonia’s State Rail Assistance Program and directed by SB1, the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission announced that it will be adding additional Saturday service to the Altamont Corridor Express starting September 7th.

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.

  • Public Tours: At Albuquerque's Alvarado Transportation Center 320 First St. S.W., (Amtrak/Rail Runner Express/Greyhound/transit station), on Wednesday, September 18 (same day as the Lamy excursion), ticketed guests enjoy an hour-long, guided tour of several gorgeous, private rail cars. 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. Go to http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=y6b9iulab&oeidk=a07egjq8isz6b093474

  • Gourmet Dinner: The elegant Streamliner railcar, Northern Sky, will offer a unique onboard dining experience on September 18 or 19. The evening features pre-dinner drinks and hors d’oeuvres in the lower lounge, followed by a multi-course meal with select wine pairings in the panoramic atmosphere of the railcar’s upper-level dome. The chef’s custom menu will be tailored to the party’s culinary preferences, prepared fresh onboard, and served table-side. Cost is $250 per person and parties of up to 14 may be accommodated.

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.

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!


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.

Huntington, WV Station Parking Lot Temporarily Closed

Effective Tuesday through Thursday Aug. 27 through Aug. 29, 2019

Be advised that due to repairs and restriping of the parking lot, passengers will be unable to use the Huntington, WV station lot.

Limited parking will be available at the vacant Blockbuster building at 801 10th Street, Huntington, WV 25701. Please park on the north east side of the building. Passengers will need to walk approximately 2 blocks from the lot to the station.

Due to the limited number of spaces, please make every effort to be dropped off and picked up during this disruption.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Travelers’ Tip For The Week

Discount for Military Veterans

Amtrak is offering customers who have served in the U.S. armed forces a new way to save on rail travel. A 10% discount for military veterans is now available for customers who have served in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

The new everyday discount is valid for travel across the entire national network including the Northeast Regional from Washington, D.C., to Boston, all State-Supported trains, and the California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, City of New Orleans, Cardinal, Auto Train, Coast Starlight, Lake Shore Limited, Capitol Limited, Crescent, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Palmetto, Empire Builder, and Texas Eagle.

Discount Limitations

  • The veteran discount is not valid with Saver Fares.

  • The veteran discount is not valid on weekday Acela trains.

  • The veteran discount does not apply to non-Acela Business class, First class or sleeping accommodation. Upgrades are permitted upon payment of the full accommodation charges.

  • The veteran discount is not valid for travel on certain Amtrak Thruway connecting services.

  • The veteran discount is not valid on the Canadian portion of services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada.

  • The veteran discount may not be combinable with other discount offers; refer to the terms and conditions for each offer.

  • Additional restrictions may apply.

Just use the Fare Finder at the beginning of your search and select 'Military Veteran' for each passenger as appropriate to receive the discount.

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 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!

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.