Happening Now

Hotline #1,159

March 20, 2020

Rail news for the week ending March 20th

The March Passengers Voice Newsletter is now available.

Click here to read the digital version.

Rail Passengers Fighting for Passenger Rail, Transit Inclusion in Coronavirus Legislation

As the full scale of the financial impact to the transportation sector of coronavirus revealed itself over the past weekend, the Rail Passengers Association led the way for inclusion of passenger rail and transit in any financial aid package drafted to address the needs of the airline industry.

In a letter sent to House and Senate leaders, Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews made the case for including passenger rail in any aid package that Congress advances, explaining how Amtrak has the unique ability to connect hundreds of under-served rural and mid-sized communities, provide transportation for Americans with disabilities, and move millions of people efficiently through dense urban corridors.

[Rail Passengers staff has reached out to essential congressional and committee staffers, and we need your help! Call your members of Congress today using our easy online tool!]

“Amtrak provides essential intercity service to more than 500 communities across the U.S.,” wrote Mathews. “Many of these are rural towns not served by the airline industry; there are 34.6 million rural people served by Amtrak’s NN and the Alaska Railroad. Most of them would lose all access if these trains went away.”

“And unlike U.S. airlines, which used $45 billion to buy back shares of their own stock between 2010 and 2019 (equivalent to 96% of their free cash flow), Amtrak directs the vast majority of its federal grant and revenue stream back into services delivered to real people—replacing its aging fleet of equipment, bringing undercapitalized infrastructure on the NEC into a state of good repair, upgrading stations across the NN, and toward payroll for nearly 16,000 hardworking Amtrak employees who work, shop, and pay taxes all across the U.S.” continued Mathews.

Rail Passengers focused on four policy tracks:

  • Amtrak: Rail Passengers fully supports Amtrak’s request for an additional $1 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 to offset revenue losses from the collapse in intercity travel—$800 million to sustain Northeast Corridor (NEC) and National Network (NN) service, and $200 million to withstand reduced payments from states for state-supported services.

  • Private Sector Rail Operators: Congress has repeatedly attempted to increase private sector involvement in the intercity rail market. In recent years we’ve seen great progress with the launch of Brightline service in Southern Florida and the development of the Texas Central high-speed rail corridor between Houston and Dallas. Rail Passengers is asking Congress to ensure that this progress is not undone by the fight to restrict the transmission of COVID-19 through travel restrictions.

  • Public Transit Agencies: Rail Passengers supports the American Public Transit Association’s request of $16 billion for public transit to offset the direct costs and revenue losses from COVID-19 in FY2020. This will allow public transit agencies to cover the direct costs of increased cleaning and disinfecting equipment and facilities, farebox revenue losses, decline in funding from dedicated sales tax revenue, and anticipated restart costs. (Note: Rail Passengers updated this request on March 19 to reflect a broader survey of transit needs performed by APTA to across 163 agencies.)

  • Railroad Workers: Rail Passengers is asking Congress to provide the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) additional funds for administering an influx of unemployment claims and remove Railroad Unemployment Insurance from the list of programs subject to sequestration—it is currently the only unemployment program in the country that’s subject to these indiscriminate cuts.

First Signs of a Response from White House, Congress

The Trump Administration was first out the gate with a draft aid package for the travel industry, which primarily focused on $58 billions in loans and guarantees for the airline industry. The White House package also included $500 million in grants for Amtrak, half of what the railroad said it needs to keep going in the face of a 60 percent decline in daily ridership due to coronavirus travel restriction, an 80 percent year-over-year decline in future bookings, and cancellations up more than 400 percent.

Unfortunately, the initial Trump Administration proposal doesn’t include any transit agencies or commuter railroads. That could spell disaster for tens of millions of passengers who rely on these services every day to get to work and for other essential travel—and the U.S. economy.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said that the Democratic proposal will include money for Amtrak, transit, and commuter railroads, but neither he nor House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have released any specific funding figures.

Transit leaders are trying to instill a sense of urgency, warning of the dire consequences if these essential transportation systems don’t receive assistance.

“It cannot be overstated—without these funds, the overwhelming majority of public transit agencies will be required to either drastically curtail services or suspend services altogether,” said Paul Skoutelas, APTA President and CEO. “The time to act is now.”

In This Time Of Crisis, Rail Passengers’ Work Takes On New Urgency

By Jim Mathews / President & CEO

Sometimes it seems as if the coronavirus news gets worse by the hour. Each day brings a new sobering statistic. Each public briefing announces a new restriction. The arrival of the coronavirus outbreak on our shores has affected each and every person in this country. You and your family, me and mine. You may have seen that we were recently forced to temporarily close access to our D.C. offices in the interest of public health, sending the staff to work from home. My fervent hope is that this edition of our Hotline finds you well, healthy and taking the best possible care of yourself to stay that way.

As we said above in our lead item, the rapid spread of the virus has left the travel industry in shambles – and that includes Amtrak. This will mean devastating service cuts across the entire passenger-rail system, and the destruction of much of the progress you and I have worked so hard to achieve in the past five years—unless we can secure real and meaningful help for Amtrak, private rail operators and transit systems.

Believe it or not, in the midst of this crisis our work to speak up for you, the American passenger, is even more urgent. You should know that even with many congressional offices closed, your D.C. professional staff is keeping up contacts with key congressional leaders and staff and advancing the important conversations to keep Amtrak funded and on a path to growth. This week, for example, I did interviews with the Washington Post to make the case for a passenger rail and transit aid package, and Policy VP Sean Jeans Gail worked especially closely with our contacts among the congressional appropriators to share our case for aid and support.

We’re working on ensuring that the rail systems you need are included in any coronavirus bailout package. We’re working to make sure that important growth initiatives in Amtrak’s fiscal 2021 budget request aren’t tossed aside because of the crisis. We’re working to make sure that the disruption in public meetings doesn’t derail getting the Texas high-speed rail project moving with a Rule of Particular Applicability. And of course, we’re working to keep your membership files going and the website up to date.

The best and most encouraging news out of all of this is that I’m hearing from hundreds of you, and you’re telling us that YOU’RE continuing the work, too. In just the first few minutes it was posted, more than one hundred of you signed up to Take The Pledge to take part in our Virtual Day on the Hill. More than 80 of you have registered for our rescheduled June Spring meeting and Advocacy Summit. Hundreds of you have responded to our Take Action emails to send messages to your congressional delegations. And you continue to humble us with your sustained generosity, maintaining your memberships and donations at this time of deep financial uncertainty.

The work goes on and the need is urgent. Your staff will keep fighting for you and for your vital services. We will all get through this because Americans always have. We’re doing our best to make sure that when that happens, we’ll all have trains to take us to see our families, to return to work and school, and to put our lives and our communities back in order.

Keep the faith and stay healthy.


As you may have read in last week’s Hotline, due to the current COVID-19 outbreak across the nation the Rail Passengers Association decided to delay our annual spring meeting until late June.

However, the legislative gears are still rapidly turning in Washington, D.C., and we’re still working every day for a bigger and better passenger rail system. With that in mind, we will be going ahead with our plans for the Passenger Rail Day on the Hill to be more “virtual.”

This is where we need your help! We are asking you to take the pledge to join us on Tuesday, March 31 to call your members of Congress - or even schedule a future meeting with staffers at your local district offices - to ask for more investment in passenger trains.

We’ll provide you with specific requests for:

  • Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations: House and Senate appropriators are currently considering spending levels for Amtrak, passenger rail grant programs, and transit. It’s important that they hear from passengers about the pressing needs of Amtrak and transit systems.

  • Surface Transportation Reauthorization Blueprint: Congress is drafting a bill that will control passenger rail funding and policy over the next five years, and shape the passenger rail network for decades.

  • Infrastructure/Stimulus Bill: With a flagging economy, leaders in both the Senate and the House are discussing using an infrastructure bill to revitalize our economy, and we need to make sure rail is part of the conversation. This will be even more important with news coming that travelers across the country are canceling their travel plans, causing a sharp drop in Amtrak and airline revenues.


Train Travelers Go The Distance To Be With Family Amid Pandemic

While ridership is down in just about every level of public transportation in the United States due to the current crisis, there are those out there that are still taking the chance to use Amtrak to get to their family and friends.

Missouri House Committee Advances Plan to Keep River Runner Moving

Earlier this week, the Missouri House budget committee voted to move a plan forward that would keep Amtrak’s River Runner service on its current two round trip schedule. The plan, however, is not without its issues as Budget Chair Cody Smith attempted to stop the state from subsidizing more than one round trip per day and warned that they can’t “keep underfunding” service - as the state currently owes Amtrak $12 million over the last decade - but his amendment was later overturned. The State Legislature is being asked to set aside $9.1 million in funding for the passenger rail service, the same amount it has paid the last three years - though it does not cover 100% of the contract that has been pushed to over $12 million a year. Part of Chairman Smith’s plan was to pay off what the state still owes to Amtrak and then limit service so they don’t end up in the same position in the future when they cannot cover.

State Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, whose district includes River Runner stops in Hermann and Washington, fought against Smith’s amendment and joined other representatives making the economic case to keep the current service levels. The cities and towns along the route rely on people coming in and putting money into the local economies. If one of the round trips was cut, it would also make it harder for commuters to travel by train and would put more people in cars - which adds to the already growing traffic concerns. Griesheimer also warned that cutting service would mean a steep decline in ridership and could mean that Amtrak pulls out of the deal.

Public Transportation Ridership Around the Country Takes A Hit Due To Pandemic

Nearly every transit agency in the country is drastically cutting back service due to the loss in ridership and for the health concerns of their residents. These are just a few stories this week that highlight what is happening.

Amtrak Waiving Change Fees, Slashing Schedules

Due to plummeting demand, Amtrak has cut about 60% of its service and many stations are now unstaffed.

More changes may be in the offing, and we encourage our members to keep checking on Amtrak’s service advisories site for the latest updates.

Meanwhile, Amtrak is still waiving change fees for passengers who reschedule travel out of coronavirus concerns. While airlines were goaded into waiving their fees -- incurred because in many cases airlines were cancelling or changing flights -- Amtrak made its move long before it was forced to change its schedules.

Amtrak says that for any reservation made before April 30, they’ll waive the change fees, although if your new booking costs more you’ll still have to pay the difference in the fares.

To take advantage of the waiver, however, you must speak to an agent at 1-800-USA-RAIL. You can’t do this using the Amtrak booking website or the smartphone app.

We’ve heard from some members that Amtrak vouchers may have expiration dates that pre-date when many experts believe travel restrictions will be lifted. We’re looking into that problem and you should keep an eye on the Rail Passengers blog for any updates. If we learn something new, we will post there first.

Southeast, Midwest Regional Rail Plan Studies Resume, Eyeing Frequent High-Speed Service With Strong Financials By 2055

After nearly two years lying dormant, work is resuming on two Federal Railroad Administration studies in which Rail Passengers is taking an active role – the Southeast Regional Rail Planning Study and the Midwest Regional Rail Planning Study.

Rail Passengers CEO Jim Mathews took part in two separate study briefings this week as the groups reviewed preliminary results. FRA is asking us and other participants to supply additional inputs to the Southeast plan by April 10th and is scheduling additional work sessions later this year on the Midwest study.

The briefings brought the study teams together virtually, rather than an originally planned in-person session, because of the coronavirus outbreak.

A significant change for Phase II of both studies will significantly lower the ridership and passenger estimates for the later years of the networks as they’re implemented, but the good news is that even with the lower estimates the networks still appear to have positive operating ratios – in other words, above the rail they more than cover their costs.

Phase II will look at these networks in more detail using the adjusted figures to determine whether the network concepts have to change. Rail Passengers will be part of this work.

All of this is driven by changes to a crucial tool being used by the study teams, called CONNECT. CONNECT is a coarse modeling tool designed to assess costs, revenues and ridership by projecting travel on all modes – cars, buses, air and rail – and then applying formulas to determine how many trips would shift to rail under various scenarios. The core of the database is actual and projected auto trips, which underpin the other modes’ estimates. That’s because the formulas depend on the auto trips as a baseline, and then shifts some of those trips to other modes based on a combination of price, distance and other factors.

The growth in the overall number of auto trips projected by the year 2055 was drastically reduced, and that in turn reduced the number of trips that could be shifted to rail in the model.

Even so, an initial run of the model suggests that a notional Southeast and Interregional Network could generate an operating cost recovery ratio of 1.82 by 2055, carrying some 39 million passengers on a mix of trains operating at more than 125 mph and at 90-125 mph on dedicated right-of-way and more conventional services of up to 90 mph on shared track.

Membership News and Notices

  • Did you know that your Rail Passengers membership dues and general donations may be tax-deductible? Your membership dues are tax-deductible, minus any Amtrak Guest Rewards points you receive (valued at 2.5 cents each). General donations are 100% tax-deductible.

  • 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. Membership dues forms typically read, “Yes, I deserve better: I’m renewing to make sure passengers’ voices are heard!”

  • Rail Passengers has developed a new Membership Committee (chaired by Board Member and Utah Council Member Mike Christensen) and we need members like you! If you are interested in diversifying our membership, spreading the word about the work we do, and can spend a few hours a month working with us to do so, join our Membership Committee! Contact Membership Manager Kim Williams at [email protected] if you’re interested. You must be a current member in good standing. We are particularly interested in members who primarily ride commuter/intercity rail, or live outside the Northeast Corridor, or are active on a variety of social media platforms.

  • While the Rail Passengers staff is working remotely these days, we don’t have access to our membership card printer. Luckily, you can print a temporary card by creating an account at www.railpassengers.org and selecting “Your Membership Card.”

Additional member benefits information can be found on our website.

#ICYMI - In Case You Missed It: This Week’s Social Media Highlights

This week social media coverage was dominated by the current COVID-19 pandemic and keeping our followers informed of the latest Amtrak and public transportation service changes from around the country.

Do you want to weigh in on the digital conversation? Join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay in touch and up to date on all things RPA everyday.


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...even when we’re all working online or from home!

  • Jim Mathews, President & CEO, worked closely this week with the Policy team under Sean Jeans Gail to make sure passenger rail and transit are part of any coronavirus aid packages (see below), and carried that message to Congress and to the press, most recently with the Washington Post. He also attended two “virtual” video meetings; a reconvening of the regional Rail Planning study groups hosted by the Federal Railroad Administration (Rail Passengers is part of both studies) and a strategy session for Texas Central.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, led the effort to include passenger rail and transit in a coronavirus aid package, coordinating with member offices and outside groups. He continued to develop briefing materials for the March 31st Virtual Day on the Hill; you can find out more about these resources at RailPassengers.org/RailNation2020.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, spent the week continuing to work with Amtrak managers regarding the Working Group Project and getting more work done on developing a more robust foundation for next steps.

  • Joseph Aiello, Field Coordinator, worked with the rest of the policy and field team on getting the virtual Day on the Hill pledge out to our entire general membership.

  • Madi Butler, Grassroots Organizer, has been keeping busy with plans for our virtual Day on the Hill as well as keeping in contact with fellow advocates from around the country dealing with the current pandemic crisis.

  • Jonsie Stone, Director, Resource Development, spent the week working on outreach messages, communicating with partners and Association administrative activities.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, drafted member communications, responded to member queries, processed dues payments, and made updates to our member database and automatic emails.

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!


Upcoming Events

go to railpassengers.org/events for more events and information

Due to the current situation with the COVID-19 outbreak, many meetings around the country are being postponed and rescheduled for later dates. Please check our events page for updates and information.

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

All public transportation services have adjusted their schedules in response to COVID-19 as they remain dedicated to serving the needs of the general public. Before you travel, please take a moment to check for any adjustments to the schedule.

In addition to Amtrak Service and Station Advisories, here are just a few regional advisories that have come to my immediate attention:

Coaster Commuter Trains

Effective March 23, 2020

The North County Transit District has announced it will temporarily reduce service for its Coaster commuter trains starting Monday.

  • Weekday train service will be reduced by about 50%, particularly around the noon hour, when several northbound and southbound trains will be suspended. Likewise, just one evening train in either direction will continue to run, 5:41 p.m. southbound and 7:13 p.m. northbound.

  • Southbound commuters will have to be on the 7:40 a.m. train or wait until 2:42 p.m. Northbound commuters can leave as late as 9:18 a.m.

  • Weekend Coaster service will be suspended entirely beginning March 28. The Breeze bus service has been temporarily eliminated.

  • In addition to the Coaster trips which will remain active, riders with a valid Coaster Regional day or monthly pass will still be able to ride the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner. Amtrak will also be implementing service reductions.

Amtrak Cascades Schedule Changes

Effective March 21, 2020

Amtrak Cascades will be operating on a reduced schedule between Seattle and Eugene as outlined below:

Train Service Changes

  • Train 500 will operate daily until April 3, departing Eugene at 5:30 am.

  • Train 504 will operate daily until April 3, departing Portland at 12:00 pm.

  • Train 517 will originate in Seattle, with no alternate transportation provided.

  • Train 518 will terminate in Seattle, with no alternate transportation provided.

  • Trains 502, 506, 507, 508, 511, 513, 516 and 519 will not operate between March 21 and April 3.

Please note: Café service is suspended until further notice effective March 21 for outbound and March 22 for inbound trains.

POINT Bus Service Changes-March 21 through April 3

  • Bus 5503 will operate daily, departing Portland at 12:25 pm.

  • Bus 5504 will operate daily, departing Eugene (Willamette Street) at 8:24 am.

  • Bus 5508 will provide service for Train 508, departing Eugene (Willamette Street) at 3:55 pm

  • Buses 5502 and 5545 will not operate.

Capitol Corridor Service Schedule Changes

Effective March 21, 2020

Please be advised that the Capitol Corridor service will operate on limited schedules beginning March 21.

In addition to schedule changes, some station facilities will be adjusting hours of operation.

For the most up to date information and changes, please visit www.capitolcorridor.org or call 1-877974-3322.

Missouri River Runner Train 311 Operating 1 Hour Earlier

Effective March 23, 2020

In an effort to increase on time performance and customer satisfaction, Missouri River Runner Train 311 will operate 1 hour earlier beginning March 23.

Schedule outlined below:


Train 311 Daily

St. Louis

8:15 a.m.


8:44 a.m.


9:21 a.m.


9:49 a.m.

Jefferson City

10:36 a.m.


11:49 a.m.


12:20 p.m.

Lee’s Summit

1:04 p.m.


1:20 p.m.

Kansas City

1:55 p.m.

Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian Schedule Changes

Effective March 18 through 30, 2020

Effective March 18, schedule changes will impact Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian trains as outlined below:

Keystone Service:

  • Keystone Service trains will not operate between Harrisburg and New York from March 18 through 29.

  • All trains will be operating on a reduced schedule at all other locations along the route.


  • Trains 42 and 43 will not operate between Pittsburgh and New York from March 19 through 29.

Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 Schedule Changes

Effective March 23 - April 9, 2020

Due to track work being performed by CSX, Palmetto Trains 89 and 90’s schedule will be impacted as outlined below:

Train 89:

  • Monday through Thursday, March 23 – April 9, Train 89 will operate between New York and Washington, D.C. with no alternate transportation provided between Washington, D.C. and Savannah.

Train 90:

  • Monday through Thursday, March 23-April 9, Train 90 will operate between Washington, D.C. and New York, with no alternate transportation provided between Savannah and Washington, D.C.

Please note: Trains 52, 53, 97 and 98 can expect approximately 30-minute delays between Savannah and Florence.

East Lansing and Kalamazoo, MI Stations Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the East Lansing station waiting room is temporarily closed until further notice. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time. Caretakers will be on site to help with questions or directions during scheduled train times.

Rather than waiting for trains outdoors, please use the Amtrak app or other means to check train status while waiting in a personal vehicle.

Harrisburg, Lancaster, Altoona, and Johnstown, PA Stations Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Altoona and Johnstown stations are closed to the public until further notice.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Rather than waiting for trains outdoors, please use the Amtrak app or other means to check train status while waiting in a personal vehicle.

Lawrence and Dodge City, KS Santa Fe Depots Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the city of Dodge City is closing the Santa Fe Depot waiting room until further notice. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time. Rather than waiting for trains outdoors, please use the Amtrak app or other means to check train status while waiting in a personal vehicle.

Lincoln, NE Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective March 21 and 22, 2020

Effective March 21 and 22, the Lincoln station waiting room is temporarily closed. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Rather than waiting for trains outdoors, please use the Amtrak app or other means to check train status while waiting in a personal vehicle.

Burlington, IA, Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

Effective immediately, the Burlington, IA, station waiting room is temporarily closed. Trains will continue to stop at the station and passengers will have access to platforms.

Passengers will not have access to the inside of the station or restrooms during this time.

Rather than waiting for trains outdoors, please use the Amtrak app or other means to check train status while waiting in a personal vehicle.

Keystone Service Schedule Changes

Effective March 13 through 30, 2020

Effective Friday, March 13, In coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Keystone Service trains will not stop at the Ardmore station.

Trains will be operating on a reduced schedule at all other locations along the route. Please visit

Amtrak.com or Amtrak’s mobile app for the most up to date schedules.

On the timetable listed on Amtrak.com the schedules will be noted with an “S” next to the train number.

City of New Orleans Train 59
Saluki Train 390
Illini Trains 392 and 393 Track Work Affects Service

March 20, 2020

Due to track work being performed by Canadian National Railway, City of New Orleans, Saluki and Illini schedules will be adjusted as shown below.

Friday, March 20:

  • Trains 390 and 393 are cancelled. Alternate transportation will be provided to all station stops at Chicago, Homewood, Kankakee, Gilman, Rantoul, Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, Du Quoin and Carbondale.

  • Train 392 will depart Carbondale at 7:30 pm, 3 hours and 15 minutes later than normal and will operate on this schedule to Chicago, arriving at 1:25 am.

  • Train 59 is cancelled. Train 1059 will depart Chicago at 1:30 am on March 21, 5 hours and 25 minutes later than Train 59’s normal schedule and will operate on this schedule to New Orleans.

Lake Shore Limited Trains 448 and 449 Track Work Affects Service

Fri., Sat. and Sun. March 20 - 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: Mar. 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: Mar. 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

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.

Travel Tip of the Week

I have heard from some of you who are looking for guidance on if you should ride Amtrak at this time. Here is what I would like to share with you.

While Amtrak continues to operate across the nation, some services have been adjusted due to significantly reduced demand in key markets. As always, Rail Passengers will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date Passenger Service Notices that will post here every Friday. If you miss us, the most up-to-date schedules are always available via Amtrak.com and on the mobile app.

Amtrak is waiving change fees on all existing or new reservations made before April 30, 2020. To change reservations, log in to your account or go to Modify Trip on Amtrak.com, or find your reservation from your account on the home screen in the Amtrak mobile app. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary. If you want to cancel your reservation, you must call 1-800-USA-RAIL (not available via Amtrak.com or the mobile app).

Amtrak is working to maintain a safe environment so to reduce risk they are taking the following precautions:

  • Amtrak is enhancing cleaning protocols and have increased the frequency of cleaning services on trains and at stations to multiple times a day, and in some cases, on an hourly basis. They have also increased the use of disinfectants to wipe down handrails, doorknobs, handles and surfaces.

  • Amtrak has also increased the quantity of sanitizers and disinfectant wipes available for customers and employees throughout trains and stations.

  • Amtrak is regularly sharing best practices with employees and customers on ways to protect against communicable diseases.

If you are considering traveling via Amtrak at this time, you are encouraged to take direction from the Centers of Disease Control and their recommendations for travel within the United States. What is safest in today's COVID-19 environment is to follow the directions of your personal health professional and your state and federal health officials.

Stay healthy.

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 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.