Happening Now

Hotline #1,119

May 31, 2019

Summer By Rail 2019 - America's Trains Connect Riders To Food Destinations; Talgo Series 6 Trainsets To Be Removed From Service As Quickly As Possible; Texas Central Survives Legislative Attacks; Colorado Front Range Rail Study; New River Train Back?; FRA Rule Making On Freight Train Crew Sizes

Hotline #: 1119 - May 31, 2019

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 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 June 2019 edition of the ‘Passengers Voice’ is now available. Check out the stories on Amtrak’s plans for new long distance equipment; Amtrak’s continued focus on on-time performance; the end of Indiana’s Hoosier State service; Summer By Rail 2019 and much more.


America’s Trains Connect Riders To Foodie Destinations

Rail Passengers’ Culinary-Trained Intern to Embark on 50-Day Rail Trip to See and Taste America

Across the U.S., chefs have been revolutionizing the culinary scene in cities large and small. From Portland, ME to Washington, D.C., or Charlotte, NC to Flagstaff, AZ, chefs have upped their game and what they’re creating in their kitchens is encouraging people to seek out cities they never would have before -- and we think they ought to take the train to get there!

During “Summer by Rail 2019” Chef Madison Butler, or Chef Madi, will be traveling by train to 21 cities between June 29 and August 18 to explore eclectic tastes across the country. As a graduate of the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Chef Madi knows a thing or two about cooking and the ever-changing food landscape in America. As part of Summer by Rail, she will showcase just how easy it is to connect to some of the countries top food cities and their amazing restaurants using Amtrak and other forms of public transit. Along the way, Chef Madi will share her take on all the flavors she gets to enjoy on her blog at www.summerbyrail.com.

To read more of our press release on Chef Madi and the summer tour, click here.

Meet Chef Madi

Rail Passengers have discovered new information concerning service disruptions affecting Amtrak’s City of New Orleans. Many local media sources have reported on Canadian National’s (CN) decision to require passengers on the City to disembark at Jackson, Mississippi, placing passengers onto a chartered bus for Hazlehurst, Brookhaven, McComb and Hammond, terminating in New Orleans. CN has cited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway, just west of New Orleans, despite the fact that CN is running full freight trains across the bridge daily.

However, Rail Passengers has just learned that Amtrak has been pressing CN to let the train go through to Hammond or McComb--where there is room to turn the train around--significantly reducing the time passengers must spend on the bus. CN has denied all these proposals.

Rail Passengers has also learned that CN has agreed to let Amtrak run the City without passengers all the way through to New Orleans, but that they denied Amtrak’s subsequent request to carry passengers through to Hammond, despite the fact that this would still allow an empty train to cross the spillway CN has cited as its safety concern.

It is unclear what operational principle lies behind CN’s decision to force passengers off the train so far from the spillway, or if it has anything to do from the negative public attention that has followed Amtrak’s decision to start grading host railroads based on their performance (CN received a “D-” on the latest report card). With no clear end to CN’s truncation of the City service, Rail Passengers will continue to press the railroad on why it is failing to live up to its legal obligations as a common carrier.

In the meantime, if you or a loved one has been affected by the City of New Orleans bustitution, please let us know in the comments.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said it “will work with Amtrak to follow the NTSB recommendation to remove the [Cascades] Talgo Series 6 trainsets from service as soon as possible” following the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) preliminary report on the 2017 Train 501 derailment.

One of the NTSB’s key findings centered on modifications to the four Talgo trainsets that were made to satisfy FRA’s safety grandfathering clause, which had deteriorated over time, reducing their usefulness and effectively eliminating the safety benefits the modifications originally provided.

Rail Passengers supports WSDOT’s efforts to achieve the highest standards of safety, but encourages officials to maintain existing capacity on the corridor. More than 796,000 passengers used the Amtrak Cascades corridor in 2018; shifting tens of thousands of travelers onto the overcrowded Interstate 5 corridor, where they are 17 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident, would ultimately make people less safe.

“Amtrak is working with WSDOT to determine how to address equipment needs moving forward, and how we’ll provide Amtrak Cascades service without the Talgo Series 6 trains,” WSDOT said in a website post. “There are four Talgo Series 6 trainsets currently in service, two sets owned by WSDOT and two sets owned by Amtrak. Evaluating what alternative passenger equipment is available and how scheduled train service in the Pacific Northwest is affected will inform our next steps.”

Talgo disputes the NTSB’s preliminary findings, saying its equipment is safe and that the Board ignored technical information provided by Talgo when reaching its conclusions.

“Talgo has been servicing the Cascades Corridor for more than 20 years with an impeccable safety record thanks to the nature of its technology,” said Nora Friend, Talgo Vice President Business Development and Public Affairs. “Talgo’s expert analysis differs from the speculation of the NTSB staff, and we stand behind Talgo’s crashworthiness and safety record worldwide.” Crash forces in 501’s wreck were far greater than what any passenger railcar could withstand, she said.

Washington State was already planning on a 2025 procurement, so any replacement would constitute an accelerated schedule rather than a wholesale shift in fleet strategy. WSDOT estimates that replacing the four trainsets will cost roughly $100 million.

No, Amtrak Does Not Have To Make A Profit

It's Time To Focus On Value

May 29, 2019

By Jim Mathews

Sometimes accepted wisdom is merely accepted and not wise. Case in point: the persistent myth that Amtrak must turn a profit. Even huge parts of Amtrak have embraced this myth, and it’s unfortunate because it’s simply wrong – as a matter of fact and as a matter of law.

“But, but, but, the 1970 law that created Amtrak says it’s supposed to operate like a for-profit company,” you say. Yes, it did say that. But at the time, the folks who wrote that measure acknowledged that it was more aspirational than anything else. And in 1978, lawmakers recognized their error. And they changed the law.

“We added the ‘for-profit’ clause because we thought this new entity should have high aspirations,” said A. Daniel O’Neal, who was at the time majority counsel for the Senate Transportation Subcommittee. “It would be wonderful if such service could be self-sustaining, but nowhere in the world has any nation been able to avoid subsidizing rail passengers.”

Continue reading Jim’s thoughts here

The Texas state legislature closed up shop this week without passing any of the 15 separate bills designed to cripple the Texas Central Railway’s high-speed rail project to connect Houston and Dallas. Texas lawmakers won’t meet again until 2021, so this gives the Texas project some running room to make real progress -- progress that the majority of Texans say they want.

“I want to thank all of the concerned citizens that voiced their opinions through e-mail, phone calls and even by making trips to Austin,” said Rail Passengers Chairman Peter LeCody, who is also Texas Rail Advocates’ President. “By keeping government bureaucrats out of this fight, we are preserving a level playing field for all forms of transportation in Texas. High-speed rail will now be able to succeed on its own merits, without anyone placing their finger on the scales to protect their own special interests.”

A study last month showed that 85% of Texans traveling between Houston and Dallas would consider taking the high-speed train, and 72% of frequent travelers say they’d take it today if it existed. Even more interesting, 49% of non-travelers say they’d probably or definitely take the train if it were running today -- proof of the induced demand that good, reliable and safe service can bring to the economic-development table.

Meanwhile, a ceremony celebrating 20 years of the Heartland Flyer is scheduled for Friday, June 14 with the morning departure of the train at Oklahoma City and the afternoon arrival in Fort Worth. Those who helped initiate the train service back in 1999 have been invited to the ceremony. A mid-point rally is also scheduled when the train arrives at Ardmore, OK. Participants and advocates will be able to order a commemorative T-shirt for the 20th anniversary. Rail Passengers expects to see more details emerge next week from Amtrak, which we’ll pass on via the blog and the Hotline.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is accepting applications to study the possibility of bringing a commuter rail line to the 173-mile Front Range between Pueblo and Fort Collins. The department has said that they expect more than 1.7 million people to move into the region by 2045 so there will be a major need to prepare the infrastructure outside of the ongoing I-25 freeway expansion. Jill Gaebler, Colorado Springs City Councilwoman and Colorado Passenger Rail Commission Chairwoman, has stated that any commuter rail option would need to be frequent, reliable, and high speed to give passengers added flexibility and allow the route to compete with roads.

There is no current timeline set and the state would still need to go through a FRA mandated study and environmental review, but CDOT is hoping to expedite the process and is involving both Amtrak and the freight railroads to build a project partnership.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) says he’s helping to get a deal hammered out to bring back the New River Train, which got caught up in Amtrak’s efforts to cut back special moves, charters and private varnish unless they pay more for the service.

Manchin tweeted Wednesday that “a deal is in place” with Amtrak to restore the run, but offered no details. There’s no word yet from the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, which ran the train for 52 years, or Amtrak.

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

  • Jim Mathews, President & CEO, spent a lot of time on internal matters this week, including trying to resolve the credit-card and membership processing issue that has affected many of our members since February. We also made a lot of progress gearing up for this year’s Summer by Rail trip, and watching anti-high-speed-rail bills die in the Texas legislature. Jim also addressed the fallacy that train routes must make a profit to be worthwhile (see story above), a message we hope members nationwide will take up and spread all summer long.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, took advantage of Congress going into recess to help take part in planning for this year’s Summer by Rail adventure and to prepare for the advocacy workshop in this fall’s RailNation: California.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs has continued fielding updates to the Travel Review and has also been laying groundwork on the Station Volunteer Program in the states of Michigan and Mississippi.

  • Joseph Aiello, Rail Passengers Northeast Field Coordinator, has been busy with Summer By Rail planning this week with Chef Madi & the rest of the DC staff and spent the day in Lowell, MA touring the city as part of a Northern Massachusetts TOD Forum. You can read more about that tour here.

Joe will be making a quick trip to our nation’s capital next week to spend time at the Association HQ (and to root on his beloved Chicago White Sox against the Nationals).

  • Bruce Becker, Rail Passengers Vice-President of Operations, continued this week to facilitate the smooth transition of responsibilities & duties previously handled by Abe Zumwalt and working on the details & logistics for RailNation: California in Sacramento, October 18 - 21, 2019.
  • Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, worked on a grant application for capacity building, developed sponsorship opportunities for Rail Nation, and continued oversight of the temporary staff working through the declined credit card issue.

Settle’s Sound Transit announced the preferred design alternatives for an 11.8-mile light-rail extension that will connect downtown Seattle to West Seattle’s Alaska Junction neighborhood and the Ballard’s Market Street area.

The corridor alternatives, part of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS), and includes the design of 14 stations along the route. The final EIS is anticipated to be completed in 2022.


Taking in some much needed transit-oriented development in Lowell, MA

May 31, 2019

by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator

I will fully admit that in the 10 years that I have lived in Cambridge, I have had little reason to spend time in Lowell. That is not a shot at the city - it’s just that there hasn’t been much of a pressing need for me to take the 30 mile trip north over the years. I think I have been there 5 times total before yesterday: twice for a state convention, a Lowell Spinners game, a North-South Rail Link Town Hall, and a Northeastern/Lowell hockey game (Go Huskies!).

After spending time in the city yesterday for MassINC’s Northern Massachusetts TOD Forum, I would really like to get up there more often.

Click here to learn more about Joe’s day in Lowell.

The I-20 Corridor Council, a group founded in 2004 to re-establish passenger rail along the Interstate 20 Corridor from Fort Worth to Atlanta, met in Grambling yesterday to announce joint plans with Amtrak to connect Marshall, Texas and Meridian, MS via existing rail. The proposed passenger rail route would bring two daily trains, one in each direction, bringing new economic opportunities and a transportation alternative between the two cities. The planned route would also connect a number of schools along the corridor such as Gambling State and Marshall University.

In a press release this past week, Amtrak highlighted the $72.5 million being invested in stations across the country during 2019 to improve the customer experience, with $21.5 million in large-scale projects at 23 stations and $51.0 million in ADA projects at another 30 locations. The release noted that this work is in addition to the routine general repairs and improvement work which is managed at the local station level.

“We call this initiative ‘Customer Now’ because it is about seeing our stations as our customers do and making improvements to accommodate our rising ridership,” said Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson. “We also want all of our stations to be welcoming to all of our customers.”

Among the larger projects just finished is the $22.0 million renovation of Chicago’s Union Station Great Hall, which includes the 219-foot-long skylight which soars 115 feet above the floor and the installation of a new elevator which for the first-time ever allows for ADA access to the station from the west side of Canal Street. A new seven-minute video documents this work.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced this week that it will withdraw a 2016 proposed rulemaking to extend federal oversight to freight train crew staffing, opening the way for continued automation of freight train movements in the U.S.

In making its announcement, the FRA concluded rail safety data doesn't support a train-crew staffing rulemaking, and “a train-crew size mandated would unnecessarily impede the future of rail innovation and automation.”

The Association of American Railroads, which has been lobbying against any regulation of crew sizes, applauded the decision, saying it will rely on existing and emerging technology to safely increase automation in train operations.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air Rail and Transportation Workers - Transportation Division (SMART-TD) condemned the decision, arguing that humans are an essential component to the safe movement of trains.

“We are considering legal action and other avenues to protect our members and the American public from the prospects of driverless trains,” wrote John Risch, National Legislative Director for SMART. “The action today flies in the face of so-called conservative values and state’s rights. The federal government is refusing to protect the public and at the same time is prohibiting states from doing so by posting this federal notice.”

Our Best Fall Meeting Yet! Make Plans Now For RailNation:California in Sacramento, Friday, October 18 - Monday, October 21.

Planning has been in high gear for the past few months, and we think this is truly going to be our best meeting yet! Over the four-day gathering, passenger rail advocates from across the country will take in area tours and trips, in addition to participating in Saturday’s all-day Advocacy Symposium. Great speakers will talk about both history and the future, and real hands-on workshops will give you the tools you need to go back home and fight for passenger rail! The Association’s Council of Representatives will hold its fall business meeting on Sunday morning.

Meeting Registration Is Now Open and Tour & Trip Tickets Are Also On Sale!

Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations at the host hotel, the historic Sheraton Grand Downtown, are also available. Supply is limited...reserve your room today!

Be sure to check the RailNation:California event page more information and further details.

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

  • Saturday, June 1 - Empire State Passengers Association Meeting & Lunch - Schenectady, NY

  • Saturday, June 22 - Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers Meeting - Sanford, MI

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


Carolinian Train 80 Extra Service between Washington, D.C. and New York

Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays June 6 through Aug. 29, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers: Amtrak is providing extra service on the Carolinian Train 80, between Washington, D.C. and New York on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, June 6 through Aug. 29. See detailed schedule below.


Train 80

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

I-95 Construction Near Stamford, CT Station

Weekends, May 31-June 3 and June 7-10, 2019

Attention Amtrak Customers: On the weekends of May 31 through June 3 and June 7 through 10, traffic will be detoured off I-95 in Stamford and Exit 9 will be closed. Major delays are expected.

At 6:00 pm on Friday, May 31 and June 7, both on ramps will be closed at Exit 9. Detours will begin on Route 1 at 9:00 pm and I-95 at 11:00 pm on Friday, May 31 and June 7. Detours will end at 5:00 am on Monday, June 3 and June 10.

Motorists will use Exit 11 to enter and exit I-95 and follow the local detour route during the closure.

Allow yourself additional time to travel to the station during this construction. For more details on the project visit www.i95exit9.com.

Palmetto Train 90 Track Work Affects Service

June 3 through June 6, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers: Due to track work being performed by CSX Transportation between Savannah and Florence, Amtrak’s Palmetto Train 90 schedule will be adjusted.

Monday, June 3 through Thursday, June 6:

  • Palmetto Service: Train 90 will depart Savannah at 6:00 am, 2 hours and 20 minutes earlier than the current schedule.

  • Train 90 will operate the earlier schedule to Florence and wait there for the normally scheduled departure time of 11:39 am.


Departure Time


6:00 AM


6:58 AM


7:50 AM


8:45 AM


11:39 AM

Empire Service Schedule Change

Sunday, June 2, 2019

To accommodate trackwork being performed on the Empire Service Line, schedules are affected on Sunday, June 2, as outlined below.

Train 288

  • Which normally operates between Niagara Falls and New York Penn Station, will transfer to a special Metro-North train at Croton-Harmon on the above dates.

  • Metro-North will operate an extra train for Amtrak between Croton-Harmon and New York Grand Central Terminal. This train will not stop at New York Penn Station. o Amtrak Train 288 tickets to New York Penn Station will be honored on this train

  • There will be no Amtrak staff on the Metro-North train or at Grand Central Terminal

  • There will be no alternate transportation between Grand Central Terminal and New York Penn Station.

Lake Shore Limited Trains 448 and 449

Track Work Affects Service Sunday through Thursday

May 19 through August 1, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers:

Track work being performed by CSX will affect Trains 448 and 449 between Albany and Boston, as follows:

Train 448 Albany – Boston Service: May 19-23, 27-30; June 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30; July 1- 3, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28 - August 1. Bus service will operate from Albany to Boston on the above dates.

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 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.

Holiday Exceptions:

  • Memorial Day Train 448 will operate normally to Boston on Sunday, May 26

  • Independence Day Train 448 will operate normally to Boston on July 4

Train 449 Boston – Albany Service: May 20-23, 28-30; June 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27; July 1-3, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29 - August 1

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 to/from Boston during this period

I-5 Construction Affects Cascades POINT Bus Service

Effective May 20 through September 30, 2019

Attention Amtrak Passengers:

Highway I-5 construction scheduled to begin on May 20 will affect Amtrak’s Cascades and Oregon’s POINT bus service between Eugene and Portland. Adjustments are being made to schedules to allow time for connections to Amtrak Cascades trains, as outlined below.


  • Bus 5502 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 15 minutes earlier at 5:15am, on Saturday and Sunday, only.

    • Eugene Station will not be open for the departure of Bus 5502

  • There will be no checked baggage available for Bus 5502 at any stop

  • Bus 5504 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 1 hour earlier, at 7:25am Monday through Friday, only.

  • Bus 5506 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 30 minutes earlier at 2:00 pm

  • Bus 5518 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 1 hour earlier at 10:55 am

  • Bus 5528 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 1 hour earlier at 12:15 pm

  • Bus 5544 will depart Eugene Willamette Station 15 minute earlier at 7:15 am


  • Bus 5541 will depart Portland Union Station 1 hour earlier at 6:00 am

  • If you are boarding at Woodburn, Salem or Albany the schedule may have changed. Be sure to check Amtrak.com or Amtrak’s mobile app prior to travel for updated times.

Travelers’ Tip For The Week

Be Safe and Remain Vigilant When Traveling

In cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, the Amtrak Police Department works across the rail network to ensure the safety of passengers and employees. Uniformed Amtrak Police Department officers, special operations units and sniffer dog units regularly carry out random passenger and conduct carry-on baggage screening, ID checks, checked baggage inspections and on-board security checks.

As frequent travelers aboard Amtrak, we are aware that Amtrak Police cannot always be everywhere, so we must remain vigilant while we travel. Here are a few very common-sense tips to keep in mind while traveling.

Station Safety Tips

At the station, always keep your luggage in sight and never leave belongings unattended. Only approach uniformed Amtrak Red Cap employees when you need help or advice. Don't carry luggage for strangers and resist the temptation to wave large amounts of money around. When carrying out any debit or credit card transactions at an Amtrak station, be wary of others watching you.

  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your train is due to depart. Some stations require more time.

  • Check-in early to arrange for pre-boarding if you need extra time or assistance.

  • Watch your step on station stairs, escalators and train platforms.

  • Stand back from the edge of the platform.

  • Be careful when crossing the gap between the train and platform.

  • Help children when boarding and leaving the train.

  • Only use authorized Amtrak Red Cap service for assistance.

  • Report any suspicious behavior to police, station personnel, Amtrak Police or by calling 1-800-331-0008.

Onboard Safety Tips

While traveling on Amtrak trains, place all your clearly tagged luggage in overhead racks or in designated storage areas. Don't place anything under seats and keep all your personal items with you at all times, especially anything valuable. While onboard, secure your luggage with a cable and lock if you plan to take a walk and never leave your electronics out unless you are using them. Amtrak accepts no liability for lost or stolen items, so make sure you have adequate travel or personal item insurance coverage if you're worried about falling victim to crime while on board.

  • Use seat backs and handrails while walking through the train.

  • Watch your step when boarding and leaving the train.

  • Watch your step moving from car to car while the train is in motion, as the vestibules can be slippery.

  • Be sure to step over the gap between the train and platform.

  • Leave personal food items and baggage at your seat.

  • Wear shoes at all times and use caution when wearing shoes without rubber soles.

  • Never attempt to board or exit a moving train.

  • Make sure you familiarize yourself with the safety card found in most seat backs.

Suspicious Activity

Amtrak Police continually asks passengers to remain vigilant for suspicious activity and unattended packages or luggage at stations and onboard trains. Be wary of anybody expressing unusual interest in operations, equipment and personnel. If you see anybody dressed inappropriately for the weather or acting nervous or anxious in an unauthorized or restricted area, alert an Amtrak employee or an Amtrak Police Department officer immediately.

Whether onboard the train or at the station, if you see something, say something.

Passenger Identification

As a further safety measure, Amtrak takes heightened security measures to benefit all traveling customers. Amtrak customers 18 years of age and older must produce valid photo identification when:

  • Exchanging, refunding or reprinting Amtrak travel documents

  • Purchasing documents with a stored eVoucher or Transportation Credit

  • Traveling as a Pass Rider (active or retired)

  • Storing baggage at stations

  • Checking baggage (including firearms)

  • Sending Amtrak Express shipments

  • Asked onboard trains by train crew members, other Amtrak or operating railroad employees

  • Asked any time by Amtrak police or any law enforcement officer

  • Traveling into Canada

  • Guardian purchasing an unaccompanied minor travel documents or signing the release form

Valid identification must be current and in-force. The following forms of identification are acceptable for persons 18 and older:

  • One piece of photo identification issued by a government authority, or

  • Two pieces of identification, at least one of which is issued by a government authority

Examples of acceptable forms of ID include:

  • State or provincial driver's license

  • Passport

  • Official government-issued identification (federal, state, city or county government or foreign government)

  • Canadian provincial health card ID card with photo

  • Military photo ID

  • Student identification (university, college or high school photo ID)

  • Job Corps photo ID

Random Ticket/ID Checks

Following federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines, Amtrak regularly conduct random ticket verification checks onboard trains to ensure that all passengers are properly ticketed. Be prepared to show valid photo identification to a member of the onboard crew upon request.

Purchasing Tickets

If you are purchasing tickets onboard trains from conductors, you must provide photo identification and be at least 16 years old. Tickets purchased onboard include a service fee built into the fare. This fee cannot be waived.

Travel Across the US-Canadian Border

If your trip involves travel across the US-Canadian border on a train or Thruway bus, please review Amtrak’s border crossing information.

Have a ‘Travelers Tip’ you would like to share or have a question/topic you would like us to address, please drop us a message at [email protected] - Attention ‘Travelers Tips’.

Your Feedback is Important to Improving American Passenger Trains

As you travel, please help us promote the Travel Review with other rail passengers. As you encounter passengers who want to make their positive and negative opinions known, please direct them to www.railpassengers.org/Travel Review. All participants will remain anonymous. If you encounter any problems with the Travel Review, or have any questions, please send an email to [email protected]

Do You Need More TravelReview Feedback Cards?

Please help us to spread the word. We need your help in engaging other passengers when you travel and let them know that their feedback is welcomed by RailPax. To facilitate this sharing of information the TravelReview Feedback Card is now available for you to download and print for regular usage. The card can be given to fellow passengers to introduce the work that RailPax is doing as well as our desire to have their feedback. The cards can also be left behind in stations as you pass through.

The template is in a .pdf format and will open in Adobe document cloud. First download the file and save it to your desktop for easy access. Then print as needed. The original template is formatted for Avery 5871 or 5371 cardstock which are both 2” x 3½” business card formats. Any brand cardstock should function as long as the dimensions match.

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

Planning a 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!


MemberDeals is excited to offer Rail Passengers members exclusive discounts for Universal that are not available to the public! https://memberdeals.com/railpassengers/pages.php?sub=usf&login=1

New Harry Potter experiences await you in Orlando.

  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ is welcoming an epic new addition—an extraordinary new adventure that’s taking flight at Universal Orlando Resort on June 13, 2019. In this amazing place you can step inside the story on the streets of Diagon Alley™ where hidden dangers lurk far beneath Gringotts™ bank. Travel to the village of Hogsmeade™ and into Hogwarts™ for a spellbinding journey through the skies. Soon, you’ll be able to experience the wizarding world like never before—joining Hagrid™ as you fly beyond the grounds of Hogwarts™ castle and soar into the Forbidden Forest to discover rare magical creatures on an all-new thrilling roller coaster. For discounted tickets visit; https://memberdeals.com/railpassengers/pages.php?sub=usf&login=1

  • For the first time ever, join Hagrid™ as you fly deep into the Forbidden Forest, beyond grounds of Hogwarts™ castle, on a twisting roller coaster ride to discover the rarest magical creatures at Universal Orlando Resort™. For discounted tickets visit https://memberdeals.com/railpassengers/pages.php?sub=usf&login=1

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); 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.