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Rail Passengers Association Launches Effort to Support Train Stations Amtrak Abandoned

November 9, 2018

Volunteers in Niles, MI Lead the Charge Starting Nov. 9 -10 With Other States to Follow

For Immediate Release (18-40)

November 9, 2018

When Amtrak chose to remove paid staff from train stations across the U.S., passengers in Niles, MI began to organize an effort to fill the void that was left. This weekend dozens of passionate train and passenger rail advocates will volunteer to pick up where Amtrak once served -- guiding passengers, greeting inbound trains and providing the valuable information and support services that come de riguer in other countries with robust transportation systems.

“When Amtrak management decided to remove staff from 15 stations nationwide, there was serious concern from local city officials, rail advocacy groups and passengers about the future of the National Network and people's’ ability to easily travel between stations,” said Rail Passengers Association President and CEO Jim Mathews. “Our Station Volunteer Program is a response to the hole that Amtrak has created, and these volunteers have pulled together to provide as much assistance as possible.”

Community members in Niles, MI will be gathering at the city’s train station on Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10 to launch the Station Volunteer Program created by the Rail Passengers Association (RPA). The Association has been working with Niles officials and community members to create a pilot program that will see volunteers help Amtrak passengers and fill the void at stations that were de-staffed earlier this year.

Rail Passengers Association staff and city officials will be at the Niles station, at 598 Dey St, Niles, MI, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, and 11 a.m to 1 p.m. on Saturday to talk about the Niles Volunteer program and accept applications for the program. Staff will also be conducting in-person interviews so potential volunteers will able to to receive immediate feedback.

“Once volunteers have been accepted to the program, there will also be an important training process -- and it’s not optional,” said Mathews. “We want these volunteers to be knowledgeable about their roles and the Amtrak trains that will be rolling through the station in order to provide appropriate levels of assistance to passengers.”

In addition to Michigan, Rail Passengers Association has also partnered with officials in Alabama, Florida, Illinois and Texas to launch local volunteer programs. Rail Passengers Association has also planned rollouts of the program for Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and North Carolina in the coming months. In some cases we’re launching a brand-new program, while in others we’re working to support and expand existing volunteer programs like those we highlighted for attendees at our Spring meeting in 2016.

A station volunteer program may be coordinated at the city level, or have a broader state- or route -wide scope that addresses the needs of multiple communities along an Amtrak route.

If someone in a specific city would like to be trained and serve as a station volunteer, they can send an email to [email protected].

About the Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association, previously known as the National Association of Railroad Passengers, is the oldest and largest national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.