February 28, 2020
Rail news for the week ending February 28th
The February Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.
ACTION ALERT: Calling All Illinois Members!
Rail Passengers has just learned that the Illinois State Legislature has introduced legislation in support of the Rail Passenger Fairness Act.
There is a hearing in the Illinois House Transportation committee on the resolution scheduled for Tuesday (March 3rd), and your state legislatures need to hear from YOU! Call your State Reps and State Senators on Monday morning and tell them: I’m an Amtrak passenger, and we need freight railroads to stop delaying our passenger trains. Please support H.R. 0751 to help end delays to Amtrak trains.
The freight railroads are already mobilizing against this bill, and are filing oppositions to the bill—including CN, UP, and the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois. If we want passengers to be treated fairly, we need to stand up and make our voices heard!
Thank you for your help!
Strong Vision In Amtrak’s FY2021 Request to Congress
This week, we looked at Amtrak’s Fiscal Year 2021 Legislative General and Legislative Annual Report, and applauded the railroad for outlining a growth-oriented budget, clearly telling Congress what it will take for the Northeast Corridor and National Network to not just continue, but thrive.
“A year ago Feb. 20, I told the Wall Street Journal -- and the public -- that we thought Amtrak should make a bold budget proposal, asking Congress to create the capacity for Amtrak to grow and improve without forcing them to trade off vital long-distance service,” Rail Passengers President and CEO Jim Mathews said. “The new 2021 proposal does that and more. Amtrak deserves praise for leaning forward and outlining a real vision. As rail advocates, we owe it to Amtrak and to the traveling public to fight hard in Congress to make this vision reality.”
However, Amtrak’s legislative proposal is more than just a request for funding. It also includes several exciting policy proposals that provide a sneak-peek for its surface transportation reauthorization proposal—including many which mirror proposals included in Rail Passengers blueprint for reauthorization.
Preparing for Passenger Rail Day on the Hill
We’ve updated our Feb. Policy and Campaign briefing site with a video recording of the presentation.
The briefing also covered some simple steps you can take NOW to ensure a successful Rail Passengers Day on the Hill, taking place March 31st:
1.) Ask your House Representative to Support Strong Funding in FY2021
Ask you Representative to sign-on to the FY2021 House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee “Dear Colleague” letter led by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), which calls for full funding of Amtrak and passenger rail grant programs
Reach out to your Representative to identify any key passenger rail or transit projects which would benefit from federal Amtrak or rail grant funding (Deadline for Member submissions to House Appropriations Committee: February 28, 2020)
2.) Share Our Briefing Documents With Your Elected Officials
Go to RailPassengers.org/RailNation2020 to find our library of 2020 advocacy material. Once you have them, send them to your elected officials once you've asked them to fully fund Amtrak in FY2021 (step 1).
We will update these with specific issue briefs closer to our Day on the Hill, so make sure to check back.
3.) Begin Scheduling Your RailNationDC:2020 Meetings
We've provided an easy "How To" guide excerpted from "A Beginner's Guide to RPA Day on the Hill," written by Association Vice-Chair T.J. Girsch. This will help walk you through the process of setting up a meeting for our national Rail Passengers Day on the Hill -- whether it's here in D.C., or over the phone with a Congressional staffer who works in the district. Just head over to RailPassengers.org/RailNation2020 for all the details.
And remember: let us know when you schedule meetings with our easy-to-use Day on the Hill Meeting Submission Form!
USDOT Chief Says “Fix-It First” When Asked About FRA Inaction on Hudson River Tunnels
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao appeared before the House Appropriations Committee this week to defend the USDOT’s inaction on the Hudson River Tunnels project. The Secretary said the project hadn’t scored a high enough rating to receive federal funding using the Federal Transit Administration’s metrics, and proposed that Amtrak begin repairing the existing tunnels immediately.
The hearing, a review of the White House’s FY2021 transportation budget request, included several tense exchanges between Chao and members of Congress representing NEC-served communities. The Secretary suggested that Amtrak could begin rehabilitating the existing tunnel without waiting for the new tunnels to come online. Amtrak has previously said single-tracking would be necessary to allow crews to engage in repair work, reducing tunnel capacity by 75% (the tunnel carries 200,000 passenger trips every day). Chao did not elaborate on any of the technical details of her new proposal.
“Beginning rehab work in the near-term is the right move, and not waiting years for the construction of a new tunnel beforehand,” Chao suggested. “New and innovative methods for repairing the North River Tunnel while still in operation, could allow Amtrak to commence repairs in this tunnel as much as 10 years ahead of schedule… I do hope that the plans to continue to repair the current tunnel move forward.”
Kuster, Colleagues, Work With Rail Passengers To Unlock RRIF Loan Funds
Members of Congress make headlines when they introduce sweeping bills to deliver a strong message on the top news of the day. There are fewer headlines these days for simply working to solve problems, but a new bill introduced this week by Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.) deserves a lot of credit for doing the wonky work of solving a problem that has kept worthy passenger-rail projects on the shelf for years.
The Invest in American Railroads Act, introduced with co-sponsors Reps. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), is designed to strip away some of the red tape and onerous conditions around the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Rehabilitation & Investment Fund (RRIF) loan program.
The Rail Passengers D.C. staff collaborated with Kuster’s staff on this legislation, along with the American Short-Line & Regional Railroad Association.
The RRIF program was created with the best of intentions, but the program design just wasn’t working. It has been extremely frustrating to know that there has been $35 billion in rail financing locked away behind RRIF’s red tape and burdensome application procedures. Rail Passengers President & CEO Jim Mathews said that Kuster’s bill is exactly the kind of innovative problem-solving our country needs to unlock this pot of funding and get Americans to work building a 21st century rail network.
“Something’s just not right when the richest country in the world is falling so far behind in basic transportation infrastructure,” said Mathews, who was invited by Rep. Kuster to New Hampshire to participate in a roundtable discussion unveiling the legislation. “Finding funding will always be a challenge but we need leaders like Rep. Kuster and her co-sponsors, who are willing to tackle the problem head-on.”
At Rail Passengers we particularly appreciated the way Rep. Kuster and her staff included measures that work for small-town America. Connecting rural communities to modern, efficient passenger rail networks ensures that our country’s economic growth will be shared outside of the richest megaregions, and that all Americans can have access to opportunity in the 21st Century. It's the vision we have called A Connected America, and bills like this help push that vision forward.
The Invest in American Railroads Act:
Provides $300 million per year in credit risk premiums for rail projects, with $100 million reserved exclusively for passenger rail projects.
Clarifies explicitly allowable uses for RRIF for investments in very long-lived rail assets like tunnels, stations and bridges.
Extends the potential term of RRIF loans from 35 to 50 years to better align financing term with the lifespan of the very long-lived assets built or rehabilitated using this program and providing recipients with more flexible financing options.
Verifies that funds from a RRIF loan —when that loan will be repaid from a non-federal source—shall be considered eligible non-federal matching funds for the FTA’s Capital Investment Grants program and other U.S. DOT infrastructure grant programs.
Provides U.S. DOT with greater flexibility when valuing collateral for RRIF loans, including freedom to consider market and going concern valuation approaches when appropriate. It also establishes consideration of minimum standards for appraisals of any collateral offered, to protect the interests of both the borrower and federal lender.
Rail Passengers in the News
Rail Passengers was featured in a Washington Post story to adopt airline-style refund policies:
On “Amtrak is publicly funded by both federal and state dollars and they should allow the public to provide input on these kinds of proposals before enacted. That is the baseline level of transparency that we expect,” said Sean Jeans-Gail, vice president of policy and government affairs for the Rail Passengers Association.
Jeans-Gail said if the changes will truly benefit travelers, Amtrak should share its analysis.
“If this truly provides lower-cost options for passengers with more flexible travel schedules then I suspect our members can live with that tradeoff—though we would like to see Amtrak’s internal estimates of the financial impacts on passengers made public,” Jeans- Gail said.
Our staff also helped explain to the Detroit Free Press why Amtrak trains are suffering from poor on-time performance, and what passengers can do to fix it:
This spring, Congress will take up the latest five-year renewal of Amtrak’s funding, part of Uncle Sam’s massive Surface Transportation Reauthorization, said Sean Jeans-Gail, spokesman for a nonprofit group that advocates in Washington, on behalf of rail passengers.
“Most of this will be about highways, but Amtrak is a piece of that puzzle,” said Jeans-Gail, vice president for policy and government affairs with the Rail Passengers Association.
“They’re going to need to do something to address preference,” he said. “We want to tell our members who are missing events, missing connections, can’t use Amtrak to get to business meetings on time, you need to speak up and get heard with your member of Congress.".
“People can go to www.RailPassengers.org to find out how you can support the Rail Passenger Fairness Act,” he said.
NEWS RELEASE: California High-Speed Rail Authority Releases Draft Environmental Document for First Segment into Los Angeles County
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is releasing the first Draft Environmental Document for a significant project section into Los Angeles County. The document, which covers the 80-mile stretch of the project from Bakersfield to Palmdale, will be open for public comment starting on Friday, February 28th.
To read the full release and see the list of upcoming public hearings, please click here
New Jersey Passenger Group Calls for Leadership Change at NJ Transit
The New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) issued a statement this week calling for the leadership of the New Jersey Transit agency to step down, citing passenger frustrations over persistent delays and canceled trains.
NJ-ARP singled out NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett and New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti in its statement.
“While NJ Transit has been encouraged by progress on cancellations, on-time performance, and mean distance between failure, we know we’ve still got a long way to go before we deliver New Jersey residents the world-class commutes they deserve,” acknowledged NJ Transit spokesperson Nancy Snyder, while defending the performance of Corbett and Gutierrez-Scaccetti.
Albert L. Papp, Jr., current Rail Passengers New Jersey Councilman, has been an active proponent of a guaranteed, stable, and secure source of funding for New Jersey Transit (NJT) for four decades. NJT has been a political football for both major parties and the current troubles can be laid squarely at the feet of the state's numerous Governors and legislatures. As the immediate former President of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP), Papp testified before the New Jersey legislature and the NJT Board of Directors seeking increased authorizations to minimize anticipated passenger disruptions, the effects of which are now being experienced in spades.
NJ-ARP recommended resignations of the state's Commissioner of Transportation and the NJT Executive Director because only a new management team headed and staffed with "hands on" operationally qualified executives can impartially examine the current day-to-day deficiencies. Among the immediate challenges facing NJT are cancelled trains due to rolling stock problems, the lack of an adequate level of train engineers and conductors, lagging PTC installation and aging infrastructure that needs replacement.
Amtrak Service Restored to Toronto, Montreal
Regular rail service is now operating again to Montreal and Toronto after anti-pipeline protesters ended their track blockade.
The protests disrupted not only long-distance and commuter passenger trains in Canada, but also impacted Amtrak's international services into Toronto and Montreal. At one point, passengers were being bused between Albany and Montreal. Protesters disrupted both passenger and freight rail service across Canada as they opposed plans for a U.S. $5 billion natural gas pipeline project in British Columbia, according to The Canadian Press.
Freight service also was disrupted, but had little impact along the border.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office said Canadian officials were working to end the blockades across Canada. "The Government of Canada remains focused on finding a peaceful and lasting resolution with the objective of ending the blockades in a way that protects the rule of law and builds trust and respect among all parties involved," Trudeau's office said in a press release.
The Coastal GasLink project, as it's called, would supply a liquefied natural gas export facility in Kitimat, British Columbia.
Regional Planners Fight Back Against MassDOT East-West Rail Study
Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation released the initial cost and ridership estimates of their passenger rail study linking Boston with Springfield and Pittsfield in Western Massachusetts. The reaction to the study was predictably negative from advocates around the Commonwealth. Ben Heckscher, Rail Passengers Council Member and co-founder of Trains in the Valley, said that the “cost estimates are too high, and the ridership estimates are too low. This whole thing is skewed.” DOT officials said that the lowest priced option of $2 billion would only attract 11,500 riders a year.
A number of regional planners in Western MA fought back on those numbers this week by announcing their own findings that new service would attract about 550,000 annual trips from the Springfield area into both Worcester and Boston. State Senator Eric Lesser, who sponsored the bill that funded the rail study, stated on Monday at an advisory committee hearing that it is “very important that [MassDOT] get the message that people do not think these ridership numbers are accurate or were reflecting reality” while Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno called for the state to “think big and bold.” MassDOT officials did indicate that they would now need to take extra time for their final analysis and recommendations and may have to push their already delayed deadline back again.
Metro Atlanta Gets $173M Road and Transit Plan Approval
The Atlanta Regional Commission Board approved a $173 million plan on Wednesday that would be aimed directly at trying to solve congestion and public transportation issues in Atlanta over the next three decades. The plan takes a multimodal approach by covering such big ticket items as a toll lane expansion and a new commuter rail line to more localized urban mobility like bike and pedestrian paths.
Some of the highlights of the plan includes:
$27 billion for interchange and highway improvements
$11 billion for public transit projects, such as MARTA expansion
$10 billion for programs encouraging people to get out of the cars
Nearly 60% of the proposed spending would be to just “maintain and improve” the infrastructure that is already in place, but that would mean replacing the current bus and rail fleet as well as updating traffic signals to get cars moving through highly traveled streets quicker. Overall the plan covers nearly 450 projects in 20 different metro Atlanta counties.
Membership News and Notices
If you renew your membership by mail, please be sure to send a membership renewal form in with your payment! We will update your membership status only if you return a form to RENEW your membership. Forms asking you to DONATE are processed as general donations, not membership dues. (Donations are 100% tax-deductible and membership dues are tax-deductible minus any AGR points you receive at 2.5 cents each).
Several new member cards have been returned to the DC office by the postal service because the address provided by the member was incorrect. Staff or our office volunteers have reached out to update the address if a telephone number or email address was available in the member record. Unfortunately, some accounts don’t have telephone or email information. Please call the office if you joined after January 1, 2020, paid your membership in full at the time of purchase and have not received your printed membership card.
As a reminder, members who pay dues on a monthly basis do not receive printed membership cards and must print a card by creating an account on our website.
#ICYMI - In Case You Missed It: This Week’s Social Media Highlights
This week we covered saver ticket fare policy changes, different public and private rail expansions, and the threat of outsourcing Amtrak’s call center jobs.
“I agree with Jeans-Gail. Anderson needs to show the data, for this decision. Amtrak needs to publish a real accountability report every year, so that RPA and other advocacy groups can understand the rationale behind Anderson’s decisions. Other railroads do this, we need to demand it. As for this allowing cheaper fares I doubt that will happen. It’s a one-sided situation: if I have an emergency and need to change my trip reservations why is that different from Amtrak trains running hours late due to ‘unavoidable circumstances’?” - Herb McLane on the fare policy changes.
“Exactly, and one should also add that the long term economic activity created by investing in public transit usually generates more than enough tax revenue and other positive knock on effects to more than pay for it long term...so in a sense public transit is a for-profit enterprise; except it’s the taxpayers and residents enjoying that profit” - Robi Chak on expanding public transit.
Tell Us What’s Happening Where You Live!
When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We will include them in our social media efforts, along with the weekly Hotline. Send your news items to Joe Aiello at jaiello[at]narprail.org, and we will share it with members. Are you holding a rally, a community meeting, or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. We can put them on the website here. Please follow Rail Passengers on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things passenger rail.
Rail Passengers Track Update
Where are we and what are we working on? This section will give you updates on what Rail Passengers HQ is up to.
Jim Mathews, President & CEO, on Monday participated in a roundtable in Nashua, N.H., hosted by New Hampshire Rep. Ann Kuster (D) to unveil her extraordinary new bill designed to take the padlocks off the RRIF loan program so that some of the many billions of dollars now sitting unused might help advance important rail projects around the country. We at Rail Passengers played a role in shaping the bill with Kuster’s office, along with the American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association.
Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, attended several Congressional hearings on passenger rail and transit policy this week, working with offices to better protect the interest of passengers. He also talked with reporters about Amtrak’s battle for better on-time performance and new ticketing policies.
Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, met this week with Amtrak’s Consumer Analytic & Insight Department to discuss next steps in establishing a Panel Group who can be solicited to offer feedback to Amtrak on a variety of issues. Amtrak is asking that this group consist of a diverse cross section of Rail Passengers members who can respond both remotely and in-person.
Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, joined President & CEO Jim Mathews in Nashua on Monday at a roundtable discussion for Congresswoman Kuster’s “Invest in American Railroads Act.” Joe also attended two events at the Massachusetts State House this week - a “Fix Our Transportation Crisis” call to action rally on Tuesday that the Association proudly co-sponsored along with over 20 local advocacy organizations and the monthly NSRL Working Group meeting on Wednesday. Joe also worked with Madi Butler on plans for AleNation DC as well as the newest episode of their Rail Results podcast.
Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, is assisting with AleNation and the Congressional Reception for our DC summit, publishing new material for Rail Results, and settling into her new home in California.
Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent time on the phone talking with members and partners, worked on new outreach campaigns and continued working with our financial services partners to transition our lockbox services.
Kim Williams, Membership Manager, is taking member calls and emails, assisting with the transition to our new bank, sending out renewal notices and AGR points deposits, and ran this month’s Membership Committee meeting
Partnership with Signature Federal Credit Union
We are excited to announce our recent partnership with Signature Federal Credit Union. Rail Passengers members now have access to a full service, nationwide federal credit union with extensive product and service offerings. Signature FCU also becomes the exclusive provider of the Rail Passengers Association-branded Visa credit card with our logo, which supports our work by giving back to our organization, and gives you 1 point for every $1 you spend to redeem for travel and merchandise. The card has no annual fee, no balance transfer fees, no foreign transaction fees, and has a very low interest rate.
Gifts from Donor Advised Funds
If you have a donor advised fund, please consider recommending a grant from your fund to be the Rail Passengers Association. It is a great way to maintain flexibility with your support throughout the year. For more information, go to http://myimpact.railpassengers.org/daf. As always, please feel free to contact Jonsie Stone if you have any questions.
The Rail Passengers Association would like to thank our Annual Partners for their support!
We are excited to welcome Alstom as our newest Annual Partner.
Make Plans To Attend RailNation:DC 2020
Washington, DC - Sunday, March 29 through Wednesday, April 1!
The Rail Passengers’ 2020 Annual Advocacy Summit Is Monday, March 30; The ‘Day on The Hill’ & Congressional Reception Is Tuesday, March 31 And The Annual Council Business Meeting Is Wednesday, April 1
Host Hotel - Embassy Suites Alexandria Old Town (At The King Street Metro & Alexandria Amtrak Stations) - Discounted Group Rate Rooms Are Now Sold Out! We are arranging for an additional room block at the nearby Hilton Old Town Alexandria. You'll need to make your reservations using a special reservation link. WATCH THE EVENTS PAGE for the additional link soon.
Event Registration Remains OPEN! Time to sign up for the premier annual event for everyone who wants to fight in Congress for more and better trains!
Visit The Event Page For Complete Information & Details
Upcoming Events | go to railpassengers.org/events for more information
Saturday, February 29 - North Alabama Advocates Get-Together, Huntsville, AL
Saturday, March 7 - 2020 New York State Rail Advocates Annual Meeting & Lunch - Schenectady, NY
Saturday, March 14 - AAWA Central Washington Passenger Rail Summit - Yakima, WA
Saturday, March 21 - 2020 New England Rail Advocates Annual Meeting & Lunch - New London, CT
Friday, March 27 - Virginians For High Speed Rail - 25th Anniversary Luncheon - Richmond, VA
Saturday, March 28 - WisARP Spring General Membership Meeting - La Crosse, WI
Saturday, April 18 - Rail Passengers Association NW Meeting - Tacoma WA
Please contact Joe Aiello ([email protected]) to have a local, state or regional meeting added to the Rail Passengers calendar (print and on-line) of upcoming events!
Amtrak Passenger Service Notices
San Joaquins Service
Effective March 6 and 7, 2020
Track work being performed by BNSF Railway will affect San Joaquins service on Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7, as described below:
Friday, March 6:
Train 704, which normally operates from Sacramento to Bakersfield, will terminate at Wasco.
Amtrak Thruway Bus 5804 will originate at Wasco and provide alternate transportation between Wasco and Bakersfield.
Train 718, which normally operates from Oakland (Jack London Square) to Bakersfield, will terminate at Wasco.
Amtrak Thruway Bus 5818 will originate at Wasco and provide alternate transportation between Wasco and Bakersfield.
Saturday, March 7:
Train 711, which normally operates from Bakersfield to Oakland (Jack London Square), will originate at Wasco.
Amtrak Thruway Bus 5811 will operate through to Wasco, providing alternate transportation between Bakersfield and Wasco. Bus 5811 will depart all station stops from San Diego to Bakersfield 15 minutes earlier than normally scheduled.
Grover Beach Thruway Stop Moves to a New Location
Effective Mar. 6, 2020
Effective Mar. 6, Amtrak Thruway buses will stop at the Grover Beach station south parking lot.
The new stop is on the west side of the tracks on the same side as the train platform. The entrance to the parking lot is located on California Highway 1. New address below:
Grover Beach Amtrak Train Station
180 West Grand Avenue
Grover Beach, CA 93433-1968
Buses will serve the present stop on Grand Avenue through Mar. 5.
Adirondack Service Schedule Change Trains 68 and 69
Due to ongoing operation issues on the host railroad, schedule changes will affect Adirondack Trains 68 and 69 through February 23 (for Train 69) and February 24 (for Train 68).
Train 68 and 69 will originate/terminate in Albany, with no alternate transportation provided to Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, Fort Edward, Whitehall, Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Westport, Plattsburgh, Rouses Point, St. Lambert or Montreal.
Please note: These changes are subject to extension if the host railroad situation is not resolved.
Lake Shore Limited Trains 448 and 449 Track Work Affects Service
Fri., Sat. and Sun. Feb. 29 - May 17, 2020
Track work being performed by MBTA will affect Trains 448 and 449 between Albany and Boston, as follows:
Train 448 Albany – Boston Service, Friday-Saturday: Feb. 28-29; Mar. 6-7, 20-21, 27-28; April 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25; May 1-2, 8-9, 15-16.
Customers who are traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston (South Station) will get off the train at Albany on the dates above. At Albany, bus service will be provided to and from all stations listed above. No alternate transportation will be provided for the missed stop of Framingham. Passengers traveling to Back Bay will be bussed to Boston and then may take an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train between Boston and Back Bay.
Train 449 Boston – Albany Service, Saturday-Sunday: Feb. 29-Mar. 1; Mar. 7-8, 21-22, 28-29; Apr. 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26; May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17.
Train 449 will not operate between Boston (South Station) and Albany on the dates above.
Passengers boarding at Boston (South Station), Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield will be provided bus service to Albany. No alternate transportation will be provided for missed stops at Back Bay and Framingham. Passengers traveling from Back Bay will have the option of boarding at Boston or traveling on alternate dates.
Boston (South Station) and Worcester
Passengers at Boston South Station should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.
Passengers at Worcester will board the bus at the main entrance in front of the station. Boarding will not occur at the Bus Terminal.
Please Note: There will be no Business Class or sleeping car during this time
Interline Thruway Service Between Portland, OR and Astoria
Effective Feb. 24, 2020
Effective Feb. 24, Amtrak will start selling Interline Thruway Service between Portland, OR and Astoria.
Buses 8912, 8913, 8916, 8917, 8920 and 8921 will offer service between Portland and Astoria via US-30, with intermediate stops at Scappoose, St Helen, Rainier, Clatskanie, Westport, Knappa and Svenson.
San Joaquins Service Schedule Changes
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Track work being performed by BNSF Railway will affect San Joaquins service on Sunday, February 23.
Trains 704, 712, 714, 716 and 718 will terminate at Stockton. Passengers will be provided bus service via Buses 4304, 4312, 4314, 4316 and 4318 between Stockton and Merced, making intermediate stops at Modesto and Turlock-Denair. At Merced, passengers can board their respective 1700-series train to Bakersfield and intermediate stations.
Trains 703, 713, 715, 717 and 719 will originate at Stockton. At Bakersfield, passengers can board their respective 1700-series train to Merced and intermediate stations. Passengers will be provided bus service via Buses 4303, 4313, 4315, 4317 and 4319 between Merced and Stockton, making intermediate stops at Turlock-Denair and Modesto. At Stockton, passengers can board their respective 700-series train.
Train and bus schedules from Merced to Bakersfield, Stockton to Sacramento and Stockton to Oakland have been adjusted to depart up to 60-minutes later than normal times.
San Diego Old Town Station Boarding Track Changes
Effective February 24, 2020
Beginning February 24, Pacific Surfliner trains will depart and arrive on different tracks at the · Northbound trains will continue to depart from track 4.
Please allow extra time for boarding and detraining while getting familiar with the different route to parking and connecting services. The pedestrian underpass can be used if needed.San Diego Old Town station.
Southbound trains will now arrive on track 3. Passengers can be picked up from Old Town Station on the street side closest to track 3.
Northbound trains will continue to depart from track 4.
Keystone Service Schedule Changes
Effective Mar. 7 through Nov. 15, 2020
Due to the Middletown Station Construction Project, Keystone Service schedules will be affected between Mar. 7 and Nov. 15.
Train 620 will operate 5 minutes later from Harrisburg to Elizabethtown, will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate 6 minutes later from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 622 will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate 1 minute later from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 646 will operate 1 minute earlier from Harrisburg to Elizabethtown, will now stop at Mt. Joy and will operate on the current schedule from Lancaster to Philadelphia.
Train 652 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Philadelphia
Train 654 will operate 10 minutes later from Harrisburg to Philadelphia.
Train 605 will operate 10 minutes later from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
Train 607 will operate 10 minutes earlier from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
Train 645 will operate 10 minutes later from Lancaster to Harrisburg.
Train 669 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg on weekends.
Piedmont Trains 74 and 77 Cancelled
Boston South Station Transportation Center Improvements
Construction of the South Station Air Rights Project began in January 2020. This project will include the completion of the South Station Transportation Center.
During the construction some entrances and exits may be closed or reconfigured. Trains may arrive and depart on a different track than expected. Passengers are encouraged to check their track before boarding and allow extra time to become familiar with the new construction zones.
For more information on the project please visit www.southstationairrights.com
Pacific Surfliner Weekend Service Changes
Friday, Saturday and Sunday March 8-11, 2020
Track work being performed in San Diego County by the North County Transit District will affect Pacific Surfliner service on the dates shown below:
Friday, March 6
Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles. Bus service will be provided south from Los Angeles to San Diego, serving all missed stops.
Saturday and Sunday, March 7-8
Trains 562, 578, 583, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573, 1590 and 1591 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.
Southbound Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between Los Angeles and San Diego. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.
Southbound Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles and bus service will be provided for all missed stops.
Southbound Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will operate normally to Irvine, where bus service will be provided from Irvine to San Diego. Express buses will run from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and Downtown San Diego.
Northbound Train 1761 will originate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between San Diego and Los Angeles. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.
Northbound Trains 579, 593, 595, 763, 777, 785 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided from San Diego to Irvine to connect with the trains listed above. Buses will depart Downtown San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano earlier than the train schedule to allow time to connect with trains in Irvine.
Buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego. Passengers can take the trolley to Downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.
Metrolink will honor Amtrak tickets between San Juan Capistrano and Los Angeles.
Please note: There will be no checked baggage or express service south of Santa Ana on the dates shown above. Alternate bus service will not serve San Clemente Pier.
Pacific Crest Thruway Service Schedule Changes
Effective February 18, 2020
Effective February 18, schedule changes will affect Thruway Buses 8309 and 8310.
Buses 8309 and 8310 will no longer service Coos Bay, Reedsport and Florence.
Buses will now stop at Sisters, OR
Schedule times have been adjusted for both buses
Travel Tip of the Week
On March 1, 2020, Amtrak is launching a series of updates to provide customers more options for savings. Amtrak is offering deeply discounted tickets and reduced fares. Keep an eye out for a variety of new, ultra-low Saver Fares in cities including Orlando, Tampa and South Florida —making travel a breeze in the Sunshine State. Discounted Coach fares start at just $9 – a savings of up to 50% off the base fare. Look for more of these offers on March 1.
To make these lowered fares feasible, Amtrak is implementing a few more restrictions on tickets. In an effort to better fit each customer’s need, Amtrak is revising the following:
Saver Fares: Our most discounted fares offered with the most restrictions – including no changes, upgrades or cancelations 24 hours after purchase.
Value Fares: Our standard fare offered with some restrictions – a fee may apply for cancelations or changes made within 14 days of departure.*
Flexible Fares: Our fare with the most flexibility built-in – including the ability to make no-fee changes and receive a full refund up to the moment of departure.
All fares include an array of amenities that come with Amtrak – including downtown-to-downtown service, no middle seat, ample legroom, the ability to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points and one of the most generous baggage policies in travel. The change fee will not be applied to multiride, Rail Pass, pass riders, group reservations, sleeping accommodations, Acela First Class/non-Acela Business class, Flexible Fares, Unreserved Coach, corporate, Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Executive members, government fare plans and the first change to a reservation made prior to March 1, 2020.
*The change fee will not apply to Value fares if the customer is adding to an existing reservation (booked prior to March 1) or upgrading on the same train and day as the original reservation.
TravelReview Feedback Card
As you travel, please help us promote the Travel Review with other rail passengers. As you encounter passengers who want to make their positive and negative opinions known, please direct them to www.railpassengers.org/Travel Review. All participants will remain anonymous. If you encounter any problems with the Travel Review, or have any questions, please send an email to [email protected]
Do You Need More TravelReview Feedback Cards?
Please help us to spread the word. We need your help in engaging other passengers when you travel and let them know that their feedback is welcomed by RailPax. To facilitate this sharing of information the TravelReview Feedback Card is now available for you to download and print for regular usage. The card can be given to fellow passengers to introduce the work that RailPax is doing as well as our desire to have their feedback. The cards can also be left behind in stations as you pass through.
The template is in a .pdf format and will open in Adobe document cloud. First download the file and save it to your desktop for easy access. Then print as needed. The original template is formatted for Avery 5871 or 5371 cardstock which are both 2” x 3½” business card formats. Any brand cardstock should function as long as the dimensions match.
If you experience any problems in accessing the file, please send an email to [email protected]
Lonely Planet's Amazing Train Journeys
Planning a holiday-season vacation including trains, or looking for a great holiday gift idea, then you need a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Amazing Train Journeys’ guidebook! And with every purchase Lonely Planet will donate 15% of the proceeds to your Association, to help us keep working for More Trains, Better Trains and a commitment to better infrastructure.
Through this beautiful book, you’ll experience 60 of the world’s greatest and most unforgettable train journeys, from classic long-distance trips like Western Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and Darwin to Adelaide’s The Ghan, to little-known gems on regular commuting lines. It’s the culmination of asking more than 200 travel writers for their absolute favorites.
Some are epic international adventures, others are short suburban routes along stunning coastline. There are incredible feats of engineering, trains that snake their way through mountain peaks, and even those which have achieved Unesco World Heritage status.
More than just a collection, each profile will give you the practical information you need to experience one or more of these epic journeys yourself -- including ticket options, timetables and stops, plus inspiring photos and illustrated maps. It’s all here!
Amazing Train Journeys is available as a book, e-Book or in both formats at a low combination price. And your purchase helps supports your Association’s mission too! Remember, Lonely Planet is contributing 15% of all Amazing Train Journeys sales to Rail Passengers! You can order copies by clicking here!
Looking towards 2020
As the decade came to a close, we reflected on all of our accomplishments over the past 10 years and consider what the coming years might have in store. As you may know, 2020 will be a critical year in determining the future of passenger rail service nationwide.
Amtrak is quasi-public corporation, with the federal government providing a significant portion of the railroad’s annual operations and capital budget. The current funding authorization expires at the end of FY2020, and in 2020 the Rail Passengers Association will be leading efforts in the courts and on Capitol Hill to ensure that America’s passenger rail service continues to thrive. We will fight to sustain our vision of “A Connected America” where all of us, rich or poor, rural or urban, are linked together.
We’re committed to this work and ready to take action, but we can’t do it alone. As we look towards 2020, please consider donating to support this critical work.
"The National Association of Railroad Passengers has done yeoman work over the years and in fact if it weren’t for NARP, I'd be surprised if Amtrak were still in possession of as a large a network as they have. So they've done good work, they're very good on the factual case."
Robert Gallamore, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University and former Federal Railroad Administration official, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University
November 17, 2005, on The Leonard Lopate Show (with guest host Chris Bannon), WNYC New York.