Happening Now

Hotline #1,114

April 26, 2019

Last Minute Push to Save the Hoosier State, Unions Rally Against Anderson in Chicago, Democratic Leadership Talks Re-Opening Infrastructure Discussion with White House, Winter Park Express Sets Records, Congress Sends Texas Central Letter to the STB

We Need Your ‘Nose For News’! When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We 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.

The May 2019 edition of the ‘Passengers Voice’ is now available. Check out the stories on potential Infrastructure proposals; the Association’s record-breaking 2019 ‘Day on The Hill’; the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Empire Builder and much more.

Despite a last minute push by the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance (IPRA) and the Rail Passengers Association, it appears Indiana will stop funding the Hoosier State service, bringing an end to the four-day-a-week train.

The Amtrak Hoosier State (Trains 850 and 851) runs Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to and from Chicago, Dyer, Rensselaer, Lafayette, Crawfordsville and Indianapolis. Amtrak announced that, saving some last minute change of heart by the state, it will discontinue the train on July 1 of this year.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) who worked over the past month to secure funding for the Hoosier State in the face of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s budget proposal to eliminate funding for the train.

It was a truly bipartisan effort, with Sen. Alting joined in the effort by Reps. Sheila Klinker (D-Lafayette), Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette), and Sharon Negele (R-Attica).

“I thought it was a small amount of money in a $34 billion budget, quite honestly,” Alting added. “But the Hoosier State wasn’t in (the Governor’s) budget, and it wasn’t in the House version of the budget. So that was hard to overcome, at the end of the day. … We gave it a 100 percent effort.”

The Hoosier State’s problems will be familiar to many National Network advocates: faced with a struggling service, Indiana officials were most often focused on cutting as many costs as possible, eroding the train’s value as a transportation service and driving down ridership.

"It is kind of a Catch-22," IRail Passengers Association President Steve Coxhead told Public News Service - Indiana. "The governor says ridership has been disappointing, and we make the case that you have to have at least two trains in each direction each day, possibly three, in order to have a realistic chance of generating enough ridership to cover an operating cost."

While state officials are focused exclusively on the $3 million annual cost of providing the service, Coxhead argues that a more sophisticated analysis of the travel market clearly demonstrates the value of the train.

One such example: Amtrak ridership modeling suggests that 59% of Hoosier State passengers will switch to automotive trips if the service ends. That is the equivalent to more than 4 million additional vehicle miles each year on Indiana highways.

"If you monetize the cost of putting all those extra cars on, like, I-65 for instance, it's actually quite a significant cost," he said. "The train actually [saves] the state about $3,154,000 in road maintenance and congestion costs [each year]."

As Goes the Train, So Goes the Jobs?

There’s more than just the direct impact of the loss of the train. Workers at Amtrak’s Beech Grove maintenance facility, located just outside of Indianapolis, are worried that eliminating the service will endanger 500 family-wage jobs. Amtrak uses the Hoosier State to transport equipment to Beech Grove for maintenance and repair; while they will still be able to use the Cardinal, a thrice-weekly long-distance service, to bring equipment into the yard, the pipeline to Amtrak’s Chicago will be severely curtailed.

"Beech Grove was built around this yard,” said Amtrak employee Danny Groves, a carman and welder. “We know each other's wives. We know each other's families. If this happens we'll only be able to get equipment in three days a week."

"If can only move rail equipment three days a week, it's going to put these 500 jobs at some kind of risk," confirmed Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

If those jobs go away with the Hoosier State it’s unlikely they’ll return, even if advocates are successful in restoring the service.

Local passengers vow to keep fighting.

“Most likely, it’s going away, but for how long it will be gone is an interesting question,” Coxhead said. “I think the battle is far from over, though. We know there are other ways, and we’ll be looking at them. … If nothing else, the state opens a new budget cycle in two years. We have to be prepared to go the distance, if it goes that far.”

Dismayed with Amtrak’s moves to shutter the Riverside call center, to consider outsourced food service on dining cars, and to eliminate station agents in lightly used rural stations, a coalition of Illinois labor union locals rallied with Chicago-area congressional reps to demand better from the nation’s taxpayer-supported railroad.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was among the members of Congress who joined with labor leaders at Chicago Union Station on Wednesday.

“Amtrak is claiming that in order to make Amtrak better, you have to hurt workers. And that is wrong,” Lipinski told the crowd. “Americans deserve to have good public transportation, and we need to hold Amtrak’s feet to the fire on that. And as the new chair of the Railroads, Pipelines and HazMat Subcommittee, I’m going to work to hold Amtrak’s feet to the fire.”

Chicago Reps. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) were also on hand, along with TCU/IAM, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Unite-HERE Local 23 -- which together make up the Amtrak Service Workers Council.

Speakers reserved special ire for CEO Richard Anderson, claiming that his plans threaten the entire National Network.

“I’m proud to stand with you here today to say to Donald Trump and Richard Anderson that we will not stand for any privatization of Amtrak!” Garcia declared.

The unions outlined their criticisms in a report expressing particular anxiety over the narrowly avoided bustitution on the Southwest Chief, as well as press rumors (which turned out to be overblown) about the end of the National Network.

With the summer construction season just around the bend, Democratic Congressional leadership is making noise about reopening talks with President Donald Trump over an ambitious infrastructure package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are scheduled to meet with President Trump about moving forward legislation which might include significant funding for rail.

"We'll be meeting with the President next week, when we come back, to talk about what the prospect is for the size in terms of resources and scope of what that might be,” Pelosi told reporters.

“I’m optimistic. Left to his own devices, I think the president would be agreeable to these things,” Pelosi continued. “It has to be $1 trillion; I’d like it to be closer to $2 trillion.”

“The President wants a bipartisan infrastructure package that rebuilds crumbling infrastructure, invests in the projects and industries of tomorrow, and promotes permitting efficiency,” confirmed White House Deputy press secretary Judd Deere.

Who’s Setting the Agenda?

The “left to his own devices” comment by Pelosi is likely a reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) public misgivings about pursuing an infrastructure package.

“I’m all for taking it up once the president and Democrats, everybody says: ‘OK, here’s how we’re going to pay for it.’ As soon as that magically appears, I think we have a way forward,” McConnell told reporters.

The White House also harbors distrust over the intentions of Democratic leadership following recent clashes over the Mueller Report. "They're supposed to be talking about infrastructure... If she's coming here under the ruse of infrastructure and wants to talk about subpoenas, I'll let you know,” said White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway.

There may be added incentive for Trump to engage on the issue, however, given the slew of ambitious infrastructure proposals being put forward by Democratic presidential primary candidates. Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Bernie Sanders (VT) have both outlined forward-looking plans to invest in the U.S. passenger rail network. And former Vice President Joe Biden, who announced his intentions to run just this week, is famous for his love of Amtrak.

The Kalispell, Montana Flathead Beacon reported last Friday on the efforts of Montana’s two U.S. Senators to get answers from the USDOT and Amtrak about the future of long-distance passenger trains, including the Empire Builder which provides essential transportation service to their state.

Senator Steve Daines questioned U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao during a hearing last month in Washington and Senator Jon Tester recently co-authored a letter along with ten other Senators, seeking answers from Amtrak’s President, Richard Anderson. The letter requires a response back from Amtrak next week.

In the article, Barry Green, Rail Passengers’ Northwest Division Leader from Glendive, MT, said he was pleased with the Senator’s support. Green noted that the Empire Builder is critical to the rural communities along the BNSF Hi-Line route and “Long-distance trains are still necessary,” he said.

A train big enough for us all
American passenger trains face false choices
April 23, 2019

By Abe Zumwalt, Director of Policy Research

False Dichotomy

ˈfȯls \ dī-ˈkä-tə-mē

“a false dichotomy is a kind of fallacy in which one is given only two choices when in fact other options are available.”

- Merriam Webster

You don’t get to headline that “there is no reason to travel cross the U.S. by train,” as was written in the New York Times last month, if in the same article you end up providing a reason. A compelling one, at that:

Scale on a rail trip is what’s most arresting. We live so much of our lives close-up — scrolling through phones, watching our type appear on computer screens, scrutinizing papers, preparing meals, cleaning our homes room by room. Very few elements of our day-to-day tasks remain out of arms’ reach. An extended train ride affords a chance not just to see a horizon but also to soak it up. To luxuriate in the far-off for uninterrupted hours. To exist, briefly, in the uncharted sections of the cellphone-coverage map.

So according to the media as of late, Amtrak can be beautiful. But apparently, it can’t also be practical.

To continue reading Abe’s thoughts, click here.

Rail passengers in the Northeast will have another opportunity to travel between Boston and the nation’s capital starting on May 4th, as Amtrak will add a new Acela round-trip on Saturdays. This will expand the current service to 11 total round-trips throughout the week with the new train, #2252, leaving DC at 10:50am and #2255 departing from Boston at 12:55pm. Tickets for the new weekend service are available now, though the initial scheduled times may change throughout the year.

Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson commented that this added round-trip is aimed at serving the needs of the customer as they begin to roll out the new generation of Acela train sets starting in 2021.

Rail Passengers Track Update: Where are we and what’re we working on? This section will give you updates on what Rail Passengers HQ is up to.

Jim Mathews, President & CEO, responded to follow-up requests from congressional offices after Rail Passengers’ very successful Spring Advocacy Summit and Day on the Hill. Midweek, Jim attended the first full-day session as a member of the Federal Railroad Administration’s newly reconstituted Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC). DOT Secretary Elaine Chao re-appointed Jim to the RSAC late last year, and Jim is now set to serve not only on the RSAC but on the Passenger Safety Working Group. In his opening remarks to the RSAC this week, FRA Administrator Ron Batory turned his attention to the misery of On Time Performance, noting that freights, Amtrak and the federal government have “been in litigation over this for ten years.” The RSAC includes representatives from the major railroads, the Association of American Railroads, and Amtrak, and as he addressed OTP, he asked those representatives to raise their hands. After they identified themselves, Batory noted that FRA is not waiting for litigation to resolve before taking on the problem. “We’re going to try to bring some closure to that matter” soon, he said. “The traveling public deserves it.”

Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, returned to work inspired by a personal tour of Japan’s network of bullet trains and regional rail systems. He represented passengers in a series of federal briefings that focused on the surface transportation reauthorization and high-level conversations between the White House and Congress.

Abe Zumwalt, Rail Passengers Director of Policy Research, has continued following up with Transportation & Infrastructure staffers concerning reauthorization priorities. He also is formulating an informational campaign alongside Director of Development Jonsie Stone.

Carolyn Cokley, Rail Passengers Director of Customer Programs continues work on the Travel Review. The TravelReview Feedback Card is now available for you to download and print for regular usage. 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. The original template was 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]

Joseph Aiello, Rail Passengers Northeast Field Coordinator, spent time yesterday with members of the North-South Rail Link Working Group at the Massachusetts State House. The big topic of discussion was how do they lobby Governor Baker to use the $10 million, that was voted on by the legislation for the Capital Bond Bill last session, to resume the EIR/EIS process. Joe will be representing the Association tomorrow at the New England edition of Transportation Camp taking place at MIT, as well as joining fellow advocates and industry leaders at a series of events on Tuesday in Providence.

Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Vice-President of Operations, this week worked on the advance planning for Rail Nation California being held in Sacramento, Friday, October 18 through Monday, October 21, 2019. Discounted group-rate room reservations at the host hotel, the historic Sheraton Grand Downtown, are now available. Complete information on the event registration and the optional tours to be offered will posted on the event webpage in the coming days!

Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, met with MemberDeals this week to discuss benefits offered to Rail Passengers members. Reminder,

As a member of Rail Passengers Association you have access to huge savings on nationwide entertainment through MemberDeals. Find exclusive discounts, special offers, preferred seating, and tickets to top attractions, theme parks, shows, sporting events, hotels and much more.

  • Save up to 40% on Top Theme Parks Nationwide

  • Save up to 60% on Hotels Worldwide

  • Save up to 40% on Top Las Vegas & Broadway Show Tickets

  • Huge Savings on Disney & Universal Studios Tickets

  • Preferred Access Tickets™ Find great seats to your favorite concerts, sports and more!


Earth Day 2019
A Greener Pacific Surfliner
April 24, 2019

By Carolyn Cokley, Director Customer Programs

This week, the globe is celebrating 49 years of Earth Day. The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 motivated about 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in more than 190 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. The mission of the Earth Day Network is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Amtrak announced this week that 14 new, environmentally friendly diesel-electric passenger locomotives are now operational on the Pacific Surfliner route in Southern California. Passengers can now enjoy cleaner, more reliable rides on trains throughout Southern California. The Siemens Charger locomotives, manufactured in Sacramento, now power the majority of Surfliner trains between San Diego and San Luis Obispo and carries nearly 3 million passengers a year to top destinations from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.

Click here to read more of Carolyn’s thoughts.

On the heels of yet another dozen or so anti-high-speed-rail bills heard in the Texas state legislature comes a voice of support at the Federal level. Representative Johnson (D-TX) sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board this month in support of the privately financed high speed rail project.

The letter comes in view of an agreement between Amtrak and Texas Central Partners for through ticketing. This arrangement turns what would normally be a project within the bounds of the state of Texas to one of interstate proportion, falling under the purview of the Surface Transportation Board and Federal Railroad Administration. The letter also implicitly supports this change from state to federal control.

This is good for High Speed Rail in Texas. Most political opposition for the project has been from local state legislators, while on the federal level, support is more even. This is evidenced by the strong and bipartisan representation on the letter; Rep. Johnson sent the letter alongside representatives Allred (D-TX), Carter (R-TX), Granger (R-TX), Lee (D-TX), Fletcher (D-TX), Garcia (D-TX), Taylor (R-TX), Gooden (R-TX), and Williams (R-TX).

Contrast this with a letter of opposition for the STB’s purview over the project, sent a week after Johnson’s effort from only two republican congressmen.

Eight northeast US Senators have sent a letter to Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies; and Jack Reed (D-RI), the subcommittee’s ranking member, requesting $500 million for the State of Good Repair Program in FY20 to be used on the Northeast Corridor. The letter points out that even a single day without the corridor could cost the United States over $100 million in lost productivity and other impacts. A report published by Amtrak earlier this year puts the current repair backlog for the NEC at $28.1 billion.

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee, and Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

The Rail Passengers Association has long advocated for the rebuilding and modernization of the country’s infrastructure. To see the one-page handout that was used for our “Day on the Hill”, click here.

Make Plans Now To Attend Rail Nation California in Sacramento, Friday, October 18 - Monday, October 21.

Over the four-day gathering, passenger rail advocates from across the country will be able to take part in a variety of area tours and trips, in addition to participating in Saturday’s all-day Advocacy Symposium. The Association’s Council of Representatives will held its fall business meeting on Sunday morning.

Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations at the host hotel, the historic Sheraton Grand Downtown, are now available.

Watch for more information and details coming soon!

Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:

  • Saturday, April 27 - Colorado Rail Passengers Association Meeting - Englewood, CO

  • Saturday, May 4 – Rail Passengers Northeast Division Meeting – Haverhill. MA

    • Last Call For The $35.00 Early Registration Rate! The Event Rate Goes To $40.00 Starting Next Week & At The Door.

  • Saturday, May 18 - Rail Passengers Northwest Division Meeting - Cut Bank, MT

Please contact Bruce Becker to have a state or regional event or meeting added to the Rail Passengers calendar of upcoming events!

The Vermont Agency of Transportation this week announced that it has been awarded $2.08 million in funds from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Program for safety repairs along the New England Central Railroad, which Amtrak’s Vermonter service runs on. The money will be used for the installation of rock fall detection systems, as well as various necessary track and signal repairs. The award is part of the larger $592.5 million in CRISI grants approved in the FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Act.

A derailment in 2015, which caused over $10 million in damage and injuries, highlighted the critical need to address the underlying conditions that were responsible. On-time performance issues, in the period since the accident, have resulted in nearly 800 hours of total passenger and freight delays.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott commented that passengers will be able to experience faster, safer, and more comfortable travel on the route as a result of these needed repairs. A joint statement by Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Congressman Peter Welch agreed with the Governor and added that these improvements will help spur their shared goal of growing ridership in the state.

Rail Passengers’ Travelers Tips

This week’s ‘Travelers Tip’: Amtrak’s website provides a wealth of resources for travelers, including information on the varied food & beverage services offered on board the trains.

You can view the current National Network Dining Car menu (available to both sleeping car and coach passengers) on all western overnight trains and also used on the Silver Meteor and Crescent in the east. The Cardinal has its own unique menu and as does the City of New Orleans - northbound & southbound. On the Auto Train, the meals are complimentary for both coach and sleeper passengers.

As has been widely reported, sleeping car passengers on the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited are currently offered a selection of pre-prepared meals. On these two overnight trains only, coach passengers have access solely to the Cafe Car menu. The Silver Star Cafe Car offerings are similar.

All menus are subject to change.

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.

Get On Board
Celebrate all things public transportation
April 25, 2019

by Joe Aiello, Northeast Field Coordinator

Growing up in Chicago, my friends and I considered the CTA our lifeline to so many great things the city had to offer. I lived walking distance to at least 3 bus routes (the old “green limousine”) that took you downtown plus 35th/Sox Park on the Red Line was “our stop”. As a teenager, we were able to go to the lakefront, the museums, walk up and down Michigan Ave, and go to the movies - without needing a car (I didn't buy my first used car until I was in my early 20s), thanks to the system we had at our fingertips.

I like to think that I gained a second education in “street smarts” thanks to the freedom we were allowed back then - something that my friends who grew up in the suburbs (where you had to drive everywhere) never had the chance to experience the way we did.

Follow along with Joe’s post here.

It’s official: The Winter Park Express from Denver into the Colorado Rockies has enjoyed its best season yet, with almost 20,000 Colorado skiers over 32 round trips opting for the train rather than congested I-70 and US-40. Year-over-year growth since the service inaugurated in 2017 has been at 8%, the train consistently operating in the black. The train has also consistently seen its service improved, this year with the introduction of a Sightseer Lounge car with food and beverage service. The only question we have is: where should service like this be seen next?

Passenger Rail Service Notices
Current and upcoming service notifications that could affect upcoming train travel include:

Check the status of your train on Amtrak.com, with the free mobile app or by calling 800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245). Remember to sign up for text or email delay notifications when booking your reservation.

Hoosier State Trains To Be Suspended
Effective July 1, 2019

A federal law requires states to pay a portion of the cost of certain Amtrak trains. Indiana’s state budget does not include funding for the Hoosier State trains, starting July 1, 2019.

What You Need to Know

The Amtrak Hoosier State, Trains 850 and 851, normally runs Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to and from Chicago, Dyer, Rensselaer, Lafayette, Crawfordsville and Indianapolis.

  • The State of Indiana has not agreed to fund the service in accordance with Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.

  • Hoosier State trains have been removed from our reservation system, starting July 1.

  • Amtrak and State of Indiana officials are in discussions for the continuation of the Hoosier State service. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

Alternatives: Amtrak Cardinal Trains and Amtrak Thruway Buses

  • The Amtrak Cardinal, Trains 50 and 51, continues to provide service to and from Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer, Dyer and Chicago three days each week. Train 50 departs Chicago on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, while Train 51 departs Indianapolis on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

  • Amtrak Thruway Buses continue to operate multiple times daily to and from the Amtrak stations in Indianapolis, Lafayette and Chicago.

Acela Express Service Schedule Changes
Effective April 29, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers: Amtrak is increasing Saturday frequency of Acela Express trains between Boston and Washington, beginning April. 29. Minor schedule changes are outlined below.

  • Train 82 will depart 15 minutes later from New York and arrive 4 minutes later into Boston

  • Train 2164 will depart 4 minutes earlier from Providence and arrive 5 minutes earlier into Boston

  • Train 2218 will operate on Saturdays only in place of cancelled Train 2220, departing Washington, D.C. at 2:50 pm

  • Trains 2252 and 2255 will operate Saturdays and Sundays

Keystone Service Schedule Changes
Effective May 4 and 5, 2019

Due to track work being performed along the Keystone Service line, some schedules will be affected on May 4 and 5.


  • Train 610, 612, 666, 670, 672 and 674 will operate 25 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Downingtown, 20 minutes earlier to Exton and on time arrival in Paoli.

  • Train 660 and 662 will operate 25 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Coatesville, 10 minutes earlier from Downingtown to Exton and on time arrival in Paoli.

  • Train 664 will operate 25 minutes earlier from Harrisburg to Coatesville, 20 minutes earlier to Downingtown, 10 minutes earlier to Exton and on time arrival in Paoli.


  • Train 665 will operate 25 minutes later from Philadelphia to Paoli and 30 minutes later from Exton to Harrisburg.

  • Train 669 will operate 5 minutes later from Elizabethtown to Harrisburg on Sunday, May 5.

Elizabethtown Station Boarding Track Changes
Effective Apr. 15, 2019

Due to track work being performed along the Keystone Service line, track 1 will be closed for boarding beginning on Apr. 15.

Passengers traveling to Philadelphia will need to board on track 2 at Elizabethtown Station.

Carolinian Train 80
Extra Service between Washington, D.C. and New York
Fridays and Sundays, Apr. 19-May 24, 2019 Monday, May 27, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers: Amtrak is providing extra service on the Carolinian Train 80, between Washington, D.C. and New York on Fridays and Sundays, Apr. 19 through May 24 and Monday, May 27. See detailed schedule below.


Train 80, Sun, Fri

Washington, DC

5:15 PM


5:50 PM


6:39 PM


7:04 PM


7:35 PM


8:15 PM

New York

8:38 PM

Please note: Sunday, May 26, Train 80 will not run on this schedule due to the Memorial Day holiday. It will run on the above schedule on Monday, May 27, instead.

Thruway Bus Schedule Changes due to Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals
Mondays, April 15, 22 and 29, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers:
Beginning April 12, Indio, CA will host the Coachella Music and Arts Festival followed by the Stagecoach Festival beginning April 26. As a result, there will be heavy traffic on Interstate 10 caused by participants departing the festivals on Mondays, April 15, 22 and 29. Amtrak Thruway Bus service will adjust some schedules to avoid train connection problems, as outlined below.

  • Buses 5417 and 5419 will operate 60 minutes earlier from Indio through Palm Springs Downtown, missing station stop Cabazon and resuming normal schedule at San Bernardino.

  • Bus 4985 will operate 30 minutes earlier from Palm Springs Airport through Riverside and will not stop at Cabazon April 15, 22 and 29.

  • Buses 4967 and 4968 will operate on a regular schedule but will not stop at Cabazon on April 15, 22 and 29

California Zephyr Trains 5 and 6 Track Work Affects Service
Effective April 4, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers:
Due to track work being performed by BNSF, Amtrak California Zephyr, Trains 5 and 6, will operate a detour route between Ashland, NE and Oreapolis, NE, missing the station stop at Omaha. Alternate transportation will be provided, as outlined below:

Alternate Transportation:

  • Bus/van service will be provided for ticketed passengers between Omaha and Lincoln.

  • Passengers with existing reservations will be offered the option of re-booking with the alternate transportation or traveling to/from alternate stations Lincoln or Creston.

  • Buses 4005 and 4105 will connect to Train 5

  • Buses 4006 and 4106 will connect to Train 6

Please note: Bus 4006 will depart Omaha 3 hours and 14 minutes earlier than the normal train schedule

Bus 4005

Bus 4006


11:00 PM

2:00 AM


12:01 AM

3:00 AM

Bus 4105

Bus 4106


12:20 AM

3:30 AM


1:20 AM

4:30 AM

Temporary Suspension of Placerville Thruway Bus Stop
Effective April 15 through 26, 2019

Attention Amtrak Customers:
Due to repairs being made to a bridge on Highway 50, the Thruway bus stop at Placerville will be suspended from April 15 through 26. Highway 50 will be reduced to one lane in each direction during the construction. Delays of up to 45 minutes are expected Monday through Thursday, with more significant delays expected over the weekend of April 19 through 21. The Mosquito Road westbound on and off ramps, as well as the eastbound off ramp to Broadway will be closed until Thursday, April 18.

Please plan for additional travel time and use alternate routes when possible. There is no alternate stop for Placerville. Sacramento is the nearest Amtrak location.

Keystone Service Schedule Changes
Effective April 15 through July 17, 2019

Due to track work being performed along the Keystone Service line, some schedules will be affected from April 15 through July 17 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

Empire Service Schedule Change
Effective April 14 – June 29, 2019

Due to ongoing trackwork performed by Metro North, Empire Service schedules are affected as outlined below.


  • Trains 64, 252, 254, 260, 280, 284 and 290 will arrive between 3 to 5 minutes later into New York.

  • Train 48 will arrive 12 minutes later into New York

  • Train 244 will arrive 15 minutes later into New York


  • Trains 69, 233, 281, 283 and 295 will arrive between 2 to 5 minutes later into Albany.

  • Train 49 will arrive 8 minutes later into Albany

  • Train 253 will depart 8 minutes earlier out of New York and arrive 10 minutes earlier into Albany

  • Train 259 will operate 10 minutes later between New York and Albany

Northeast Corridor Service Schedule Changes
Effective April 14, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers:
Due to track and infrastructure improvements being performed along the Northeast Corridor, beginning April 14, minor schedule changes will affect Northeast Regional and Acela Express trains as outlined below.

Roanoke, VA to Boston, MA: Scheduled departures and arrival times of Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains may change by 1 to 15 minutes in both directions between Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Roanoke.

Pacific Surfliner Service Schedule Changes
Effective April 8, 2019

Please be advised that adjustments have been made to Pacific Surfliner schedules, effective April 8. See outlined schedule below.

Train 572 will depart Los Angeles 14 minutes earlier than scheduled at 10:40 am. Train 573 will depart San Diego 30 minutes later than scheduled at 11:15 am.

Train 572

Monday - Friday

Los Angeles 10:40 am

Fullerton 11:11 am

Anaheim 11:19 am

Santa Ana 11:28 am

Irvine 11:41 am

San Juan Capistrano 12:01 pm

San Clemente Pier - Oceanside 12:38 pm

Solana Beach 12:54 pm

San Diego (Old Town) 1:26 pm

San Diego 1:38 pm

Train 573

Monday - Friday

San Diego 11:15 am

San Diego (Old Town) 11:22 am

Solana Beach 11:52 am

Oceanside 12:16 pm

San Clemente Pier - San Juan Capistrano 12:53 pm

Irvine 1:07 pm

Santa Ana 1:18 pm

Anaheim 1:28 pm

Fullerton 1:38 pm

Los Angeles 2:15 pm

Palmetto Train 89 and 90
Effective Mon. through Thurs. Apr. 1 through May 2, 2019

Due to track work being performed by CSX, Palmetto trains 89 and 90 will be impacted as described below.

April 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25 and 29-May 2:

  • Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 which normally operate between New York and Savannah will operate between New York and Washington, only.

  • Trains are cancelled between Washington and Savannah, with no alternate transportation provided.

  • Thruway Buses 6089, 6090, 6189 and 6190 are cancelled.

Weekend Track Work Affects Downeaster Service at Woburn
Saturdays and Sundays March 23 through June 23, 2019

Attention Amtrak Customers: Due to track work being performed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the Downeaster trains shown below will not stop at Woburn on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning Mar. 23.

Southbound Trains 690, 692, 694, 696 and 698 and northbound Trains 691, 693, 695, 697 and 699/1689 will detour between Boston North Station and Haverhill and will not stop at Woburn. Alternate transportation will not be provided to or from Woburn.

May 4 and 5: All Downeaster trains will be represented by bus service between Haverhill and Boston North. Buses will operate with normal train numbers and schedules and will not stop at Woburn.

Elizabethtown Station Temporarily Closed
Effective Immediately

The Elizabethtown station 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 the elevator during this time. Passengers requiring an elevator, ticketing or a staffed station may board at the Harrisburg station, approximately 30 minutes northwest or Lancaster station, approximately 30 minutes southeast of Elizabethtown.

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]

The TravelReview Feedback Card is now available for you to download and print for regular usage. 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.

The original template was formatted for Avery 5871 or 5371 cardstock which are both 2” x 3½” business card formats. Any brand cardstock should function as long as the dimensions match.

If you experience any problem in accessing the file, please send an email to [email protected]

Planning a summer vacation including trains (and who wouldn’t be?), then you need a copy of Lonely Planet’s ‘Amazing Train Journeys’ guidebook! And with every purchase Lonely Planet will donate 15% of the proceeds to your Association, to help us keep working for More Trains, Better Trains and a commitment to better infrastructure.

Through this beautiful book, you’ll experience 60 of the world’s greatest and most unforgettable train journeys, from classic long-distance trips like Western Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and Darwin to Adelaide’s The Ghan, to little-known gems on regular commuting lines. It’s the culmination of asking more than 200 travel writers for their absolute favorites.

Some are epic international adventures, others are short suburban routes along stunning coastline. There are incredible feats of engineering, trains that snake their way through mountain peaks, and even those which have achieved Unesco World Heritage status.

More than just a collection, each profile will give you the practical information you need to experience one or more of these epic journeys yourself -- including ticket options, timetables and stops, plus inspiring photos and illustrated maps. It’s all here!

Amazing Train Journeys is available as a book, e-Book or in both formats at a low combination price. And your purchase helps supports your Association’s mission too! Remember, Lonely Planet is contributing 15% of all Amazing Train Journeys sales to Rail Passengers! You can order copies by clicking here!


Rail Passengers’ partnership with MemberDeals will give members access to exclusive savings on movie tickets, theme parks, hotels, rental cars, tours, Broadway and Vegas shows and more through the members only area of the Rail Passengers website. Be sure to check back often as new products and discounts are constantly being added!

Whether you are from Bakersfield, Bismarck or Boston, Rail Passengers and MemberDeals have you covered! Our MemberDeals partnership covers venues, services and attractions throughout the country...take a look to see where there might be savings on fun outings near you!

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); Pennsylvania (1 opening); Texas (1 opening); 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.