Happening Now

Hotline #1,138

October 11, 2019

Top Ten Route Poll Open; VOTE TODAY; Portal Bridge To Remain Closed During Rush Hours; Miami-Dade MPO Chair Supports Public Transit; Ceremony Kicks-Off Valley Flyer Service; New Stations Open; Additional Pacific Surfliner Trip Added; Public Transit Continues Ridership Growth; Norfolk, VA Exploring Expanded Light Rail; Chicago’s METRA Announces Capital Plans; MBTA Receives First New Red Line Cars

October 11, 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 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.

Only one week to go! You don’t want to miss out on RailNation:California! REGISTER TODAY!

Chad Edison - Chief Deputy Secretary for Rail and Transit, California State Transportation Agency - will be the Luncheon Keynote Speaker at Saturday’s Advocacy Symposium. Chad’s presentation will be on ‘Applying The California Experience To The Rest Of The United States’

The Saturday Advocacy Symposium will feature three thematic tracks:

  • ‘Inclusion & Equity’ with session speakers including Alfred Twu, Jason Lee, George Basile, Seung Lee, and Alicia Trost
  • ‘Making Change Happen’ with session speakers including Robert Munson, Michael Christensen; Karen Christenson, Doug Kerr and Carl Fowler
  • ‘What Passengers Want’ with session speakers including Jim Allison, Tom Martinelli, and Summer By Rail Intern Chef Madi Butler

Check-out the full line-up of speakers and presentations!

Tickets to the Friday Evening Welcome Networking Reception & Awards Presentation are now available! All Are Welcome - You don't need to be registered for the Symposium to attend the Reception!

Have you voted in our Top 10 Routes poll? Rail Passengers is spending the 31 days of October comparing 31 of the most exciting potential new train services, and we’re asking passengers to tell us what their favorites are.

After ten days of voting, we’ve already had over a 2,800 people take part. Here are some takeaways from the early voting:

  • Favorite New Long-Distance Route: Daily Cardinal. Passengers are looking for frequent, reliable service to connect the East Coast to the Midwest. And with few transportation alternatives in West Virginia and Ohio, it makes sense that this route has risen above the rest.

  • Favorite New State-Supported Route: Montrealer. Just in time for winter hockey season, passengers are clamoring for restored service between New York and Montreal. (Juste à temps pour la saison de hockey d'hiver, les passagers réclament un service rétabli entre New York et Montréal.)

  • Favorite New High-Speed Route: Las Vegas - Los Angeles High Speed Route. Connecting two of the premiere travel markets in the U.S., this potential high-speed route is a can’t miss bet.

Don’t see your favorite new train service on this list? Vote Now!

One of the biggest on-time performance obstacles along the Northeast corridor will no longer be a rush hour problem after US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) announced that the Coast Guard will permanently ban the Portal Bridge from opening during the morning and evening commuter rush. The nearly 110-year old bridge, which sees a train cross every two minutes during rush hour, is famous for getting stuck open and delaying tens of thousands of commuters. The Coast Guard initially started a temporary six-month ban back in March after lawmakers persuaded them to look into the possibility late last year - and no delays were reported during that time frame.

A new $1.5 billion bridge is part of the overall Gateway Project and Senator Menedndez stated that commuters will not have “true peace of mind” until that can be realized. The design for the new bridge is complete and construction is ready to go, but is currently in funding limbo due to ongoing issues between the Trump Administration and the New Jersey and New York delegations.

In a recent Miami Herald op-ed, Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization Chair Oliver Gilbert III offered a robust defense for federal spending on public transportation. Gilbert wrote the op-ed after fending off questions from North Carolina Congressman Mike Meadows (R) in a recent House hearing. Meadows took the all-too-typical modern stance, wondering “Why should my residents in a rural area give money to support rail in Miami-Dade County?” Gilbert, who is also Mayor of Miami Gardens, Fla., echoed arguments that all of us advance as advocates every day, pointing to the overall benefit to the nation from better mobility.

The “American ethos allows us to have a nation of coast and heartland, dependent on each other for an American goal, an American good,” Gilbert wrote. Florida’s “coast, with airports and seaports, allows for billions of dollars of exports and imports that power the U.S. economy. Not the Florida economy. Not the California economy. Not the New York economy. The American economy. An economy that supports millions of jobs and tens of millions of families.”

While this may sound lofty and abstract, it is a very real and powerful idea. And rejecting that idea is what leads to things like user fees and questions about why we even have a federally supported National Network of intercity passenger trains. If we want more trains and better trains, we all need to fight back against the “what’s in it for me?” attitude that shapes public policy debate around transportation spending.

Public transportation is one of the many ways the U.S. government acts to support the common good, the “general welfare.” Every Amtrak long-distance route, for example, creates return on equity for the communities that have invested in it over the past few decades. And thanks to rigorous economic modeling our Association has developed over the past year, we have been able to quantify that return in a way that hasn’t been done previously.

The Empire Builder, for example, is worth $327 million every year to the economies of the states it serves, and by extension the entire U.S. economy. We pay roughly $57 million every year to run it. That’s a bargain. For small communities along the route, it’s a lifeline. Just to take one instance, Cut Bank, Montana, and its roughly 3,000 citizens derive nearly $400,000 worth of economic benefit from the existence of the train. The share of Cut Bank citizens’ federal income tax payments that supports that train? $12,500. That’s not a typo.

There are many things we all agree to pay for because we want to have a country. Why do we pay for an Air Force? A Centers for Disease Control? A National Weather Service? Schools? Highways? Just as Mayor Gilbert says, E Pluribus Unum, or “Out of Many, One.” Public transportation in cities like Miami helps sustain economic growth which contributes to the wealth of the entire country…even North Carolina.

A special ceremony was held last weekend celebrating the launch of the Valley Flyer service, which connects the Springfield, MA area with New York City with daily trains for the first time in over 50 years. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Congressman Richard Neal (MA-1), and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno were all on hand to join Amtrak officials and community members to cut the ceremonial ribbon. The service will run as a two-year pilot program along the Knowledge Corridor, the same route that the Vermonter currently runs on. Trains will make stops in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield - while allowing for connections to the Northeast Regional, Acela, Metro North and CTrail in New Haven, CT. Governor Baker thanked Amtrak for their support and that this program will “increase rail accessibility in the region”. Amtrak President & CEO Richard Anderson stated that the service “highlights the continuing growing demand of train travel throughout this country.”

Trains 461, 471 and 495 are now originating in Greenfield and traveling to Springfield and New Haven, and Trains 478, 488, and 494 are originating in New Haven and traveling to Springfield and Greenfield. Train 400 is originating in Springfield and terminating in Greenfield while Train 499 runs from Greenfield to Springfield. Trains 471, 478, 494, 495 run Monday through Friday, and Trains 400, 461, 488 and 499 run on weekends. Tickets may be purchased on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak app, at Amtrak ticket desks and kiosks, and through 1-800-USA-RAIL.

A major upgrade to the Mount Joy, PA Amtrak station opened to the public this past Monday and is the latest step in an ongoing infrastructure and accessibility overhaul for central Pennsylvania’s Keystone Corridor passenger rail service.

The $27.5 million project included the creation of a new overhead pedestrian bridge, two 500-foot-long boarding platforms, two new towers — each equipped with an elevator — improved stormwater management systems, newly covered walkways and improvements to the parking lot and adjoining streets. The most significant upgrade for those passengers with disabilities. With the new elevators, passengers now have direct access from the street level floor to the high-level platforms.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the revamped station is scheduled for October 21 at 10:30am.

Amtrak has also opened a new station building at the BWI Thurgood Marshall Rail Station on the Northeast Corridor. The $4.7 million project constructed an entirely new waiting room, ticket office and restroom facility for the many Amtrak passengers & MARC commuters that use this busy stop. The building is situated to accommodate the planned future addition of a 4th main track and new island platforms. The spacious and bright new waiting room is a welcome relief from the cramp original 1980 structure.

Photo Credits - Bruce Becker

Amtrak announced Thursday that it will add a 13th daily Pacific Surfliner train between Los Angeles and San Diego to fill a gap in its afternoon schedule.

The schedule increase goes into effect Monday, October 14th and features a new southbound Train 578 departing Los Angeles at 1:15 p.m. and arriving in San Diego at 4:12 p.m. Northbound Train 591 will be renumbered as Train 593, but will keep a similar departure time from San Diego, at 6:40 p.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 9:39 p.m. New Train 591 will depart San Diego at 5:25 p.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 8:34 p.m.

“Each of the new trains will fill a nearly three-hour gap in our existing schedule, providing expanded possibilities for business and leisure travel between Los Angeles and San Diego,” said Al Murray, chairman of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency, which oversees the Pacific Surfliner service.

These two additional trains will mark the first expansion of the Pacific Surfliner service in the past 3 years. As part of the new schedule, minor changes are also being made to arrival and departure times of other Pacific Surfliner trains to ultimately improve reliability. The Pacific Surfliner is the busiest state-supported intercity passenger rail route in the United States today and served 3 million riders in 2018.

All Pacific Surfliner trains feature reclining seats with power outlets, WiFi, bike racks, and an onboard Market Café that offers fresh food, snacks and beverages, including California wines, cocktails and local craft beer.

Upgrade to Pacific Business Class

Enjoy unique amenities when you upgrade such as a 25% point bonus for Amtrak Guest Rewards members; seating in a dedicated car with service attendant; additional leg room; a complimentary glass of wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and light snacks; access to the Metropolitan Lounge in Los Angeles; priority boarding in San Diego and a fully refundable ticket if canceled prior to departure.

While the larger mass transit sector continues to see a slight decline, the most recent ridership numbers reported by the American Public Transportation Association revealed that rail transit ridership is resisting this trend and continues to rise steadily.

The numbers continue to be a mixed bag for rail systems that have struggled in recent years to achieve a state of good repair, with maintenance backlogs hurting reliability and driving down ridership. But a recommitment to maintenance seems to be paying dividends, with Americans taking 2.5 billion transit trip in the second quarter of 2019, over 11 million more passenger trips as compared to the same period in 2018.

“What we’ve seen is that Metrorail ridership has stabilized and even begun to show some growth,” Washington Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel told the Washington Post. “Metrorail has been posting year-over-year ridership gains each month starting in February and continuing through the spring.”

While that is especially significant in Washington -- where Metro has had to implement a maintenance blitz to series of high profile infrastructure failures -- transit agencies across the US are seeing signs of a resurgence in ridership:

[Washington] Metro reported that daily passenger trips increased 2.3 percent for the first six months of 2019, with ridership for April, May and June up 3.3 percent compared with the same period last year.

In New York, the country’s largest and busiest rapid transit system, ridership was up 2.6 percent for April, May and June.

Atlanta and Boston subways also posted ridership gains, while the other big-city systems — Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles — reported declines, according to the association report.

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) will be studying the possibilities of increasing public transit services and connecting destinations in the City of Norfolk, VA via bus and/or The Tide light-rail system. Potential destinations include the Military Circle Mall, Norfolk International Airport, and Naval Station Norfolk. It would connect with downtown Norfolk along the eastern section of the city.

The study will be conducted by two transit-planning firms, Michael Baker International and STV Group, Inc. HRT said the study should take roughly 30 months. The goal of the study is to ultimately advance the project into the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investments Grant (CIG) program, they said. The CIG program provides funds for transit capital investments and requires agencies seeking funding to complete a series of steps over several years.

In 2015, HRT analyzed alternative alignments on Norfolk's west side to evaluate whether adding high capacity transit to the naval base would be feasible. The study concluded light-rail on the west side of the city would not be feasible due to cost, flooding concerns and long travel times.

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, was busy coordinating the Associations staff efforts leading up to RailNation:California.

  • Sean Jeans Gail, Vice President of Policy, prepared for our advocacy workshop in Sacramento, where members of Rail Passengers’ federal and state policy team will engage with workshop participants, in a small group setting, on the A to Z of advocacy. The presentation covers advocacy best practices, strategies for interacting with elected officials and policymakers, and blueprints for launching a successful campaign to improve service in your town—whether it’s local transit, commuter, or intercity rail and Amtrak.

  • Carolyn Cokley, Director of Customer Programs, is happy to announce that the first station volunteers in East Lansing were on duty this morning and had a successful shift organizing 180 passengers to board Train 365 in 4 minutes. Carolyn also held successful talks with both Lawrence KS reps and Fort Worth TX reps regarding station volunteer programs in both locations.

  • Joseph Aiello, Northeast Field Coordinator, spent the week wrapping up RailNation: California planning with the rest of the DC staff, as well as working with a number of local advocates who are preparing for two meetings in Boston next week. Joe is also looking forward to his first ride on a western route on his way to Sacramento when he hops on the Zephyr in Chicago on Monday.

  • Bruce Becker, Vice-President of Operations, worked on putting the final details together for next weekend's RailNation:California event in Sacramento.
  • Jonsie Stone, Director of Resource Development, spent some time reviewing survey responses. For those who have completed the survey, thank you, over 2,800 responses have been received. I’ve enjoyed reading the stories you’ve shared.

  • Kim Williams, Membership Manager, continued planning for resource development in 2020, followed up with our external partners to ensure a cohesive collaboration, and listened to members discuss their experiences with Rail Passengers.

The Rail Passengers Association would like to thank Talgo, Inc., our Annual Partner, for their support.

Thanks to funding as part of the new $45 billion Illinois state capital plan, Metra is planning on spending nearly $2.6 billion on improvements over the next five years. The aim will be to leverage federal funding to bolster the state money and upgrade locomotives, rail cars, bridges, and stations Metra planning director Lynnette Ciavarella called the proposed spending “unprecedented”. $1.2 billion will be used to replace and upgrade 45% of rail cars on its diesel fleet with new cars, replacing all passenger coaches that are more than 40 years old. CEO Jim Derwinski said that this plan will cut down on delays due to mechanical issues (the average age of Metra locomotives and cars on its diesel system is 30 years old), reduce maintenance costs, and allow the agency to “put a lid on raising fares”.

Metra’s proposed 2020 budget of $1.3 billion will be the subject of a series of eight public hearings throughout the Chicago area early next month. The meetings will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Crystal Lake City Hall, the Will County Office Building, the Kane County Government Center and at Metra headquarters in Chicago; and on Nov. 5 at the Mundelein Village Hall, the East Hazel Crest Village Hall, the Clarendon Hills Village Hall and the Hanover Park Police Department.

The first set of MBTA Red Line pilot cars arrived in Boston this week and will be sent to the city’s Cabot Yard facility. These cars will be tested extensively before Chinese-owned CRRC starts production on the full line at their factory in Springfield. In 2014, CRRC received a $566 million contract from the MBTA to build 252 Red Line cars and 152 Orange Line cars in Springfield. Some of the new Orange Line cars have begun going into revenue service in August.

Only One Week To Go Until Our Best Fall Event Yet! Make Plans To Attend RailNation:California in Sacramento, Friday, October 18 - Monday, October 21.

On-Line Registration Is Available Through October 16. After this, all registrations will be accepted on-site at higher rates.

Friday Evening, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, will feature an optional Welcome Networking Reception & Awards Presentation, offering an opportunity for attendees to greet old colleagues and make new friends in an informal, relaxed atmosphere.

In addition, the Association will present the following awards during the Reception:

  • The Ross Capon Citizens Advocacy Award To Chris Koos, Mayor of Normal, IL

  • The Tracks To The Future Award To Rick Klein, City Manager of La Junta, CO

  • The Community Action Award To Carey Maynard-Moody of Lawrence, KS

The Reception is $20.00 per person and includes soft drinks & lite snacks. A cash bar will be available for other beverages. A separate ticket is required for this Reception, but overall event registration is not required.

Chad Edison - Chief Deputy Secretary for Rail and Transit - California State Transportation Agency - will be the Luncheon Keynote Speaker at this October’s RailNation:California Advocacy Symposium in Sacramento. His presentation will be ‘Applying The California Experience To The Rest Of The United States’

The Saturday Advocacy Symposium will feature three thematic tracks:

Track Theme

Morning Session

Afternoon Session

‘Inclusion & Equity’

‘Housing and Transit In California: Development Without Displacement’

Presenters - Alfred Twu & Jason Lee

‘Engaging Youth Stakeholders in Transit Advocacy’

Presenters - George Basile, Seung Lee &

Alicia Trost

‘Making Change Happen’

‘Plucky Corridors, Regional Rail, & The Green New Deal’

Presenters - Karen Christenson, Michael Chritensen & Robert Munson

‘Changing Rail Passenger Policy’

Presenters - Carl Fowler & Doug Kerr

‘What Passengers Want’

Sponsored By Airworthy

‘California’s Coordinated Multi-Modal Scheduling Plan’

Presenter - Jim Allison

'Advancing The Case For A Daily Sunset'

Presenter - Abe Zumwalt

‘Improving the Rail-Getaway Experience’

Presenters - Tom Martinelli & Chef Madi Butler

Check out the complete line-up of speakers and presentations!

FYI...Discounted Group Rate Room Reservations at the host hotel, the Sheraton Grand Downtown, are SOLD-OUT! A list of alternative nearby hotels and rates is now available! Please note there are NO special arrangements with any of these alternative hotels.

And there is still time to register for the optional ‘Hands-On’ Advocacy Workshop, led by Rail Passengers’ Vice-President of Policy Sean Jeans-Gail, will be held on Friday, October 18, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

Staff members from Rail Passengers’ federal and state policy team will engage with workshop participants, in a small group setting, on the A to Z of advocacy. We’ll teach you advocacy best practices, help you figure out the best strategy for interacting with elected officials and policymakers, and give you a blueprint for launching a successful campaign to improve service in your town—whether it’s local transit, commuter, or intercity rail and Amtrak.

This workshop will focus on giving advocates the following tools:

  • Define achievable goals: whether it’s launching a new service, a new frequency, or getting an issue on the ballot, you need to determine a workable path to get you where you want to go.

  • Build coalitions: recruit like-minded advocates, national and local advocacy organizations, business partners, and elected officials. We’ll tackle the hard questions about how to maintain partnerships in the face of adversity and competing interests.

  • Guide the narrative: learn how to engage through social media, connect with traditional media outlets and reporters, and find the right message to cut through the noise.

  • Establish a campaign blueprint: create a calendar for sustainable grassroots action, making intelligent use of limited financial resources and volunteer labor.

Workshop participants will leave not only with the knowledge to execute effective advocacy efforts but with a tool-kit of sorts as well. The interactive nature of the workshop will provide materials needed to hit the ground running in their advocacy work.

The Workshop is $20.00 per person and advance registration is required. Space is limited!

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

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


Pacific Surfliner Weekend Service Changes

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 18 through 27, 2019

Track work being performed by North County Transit District will affect Pacific Surfliner service on the dates shown below:

Fridays, October 18 and 25

  • Train 590 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

  • Bus service will be provided from Los Angeles to San Diego, making stops at Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and San Diego Downtown. No alternate transportation will be provided to Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano.

Saturdays and Sundays, October 19-20 and 26-27

Trains 562, 578, 583, 591, 1565, 1566, 1569, 1572, 1573 and 1590 will be cancelled. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Amtrak trains.

  • Southbound Train 782 will terminate at Los Angeles. No alternate transportation will be provided between Los Angeles and San Diego. Passengers can make reservations aboard other Pacific Surfliner trains.

  • Southbound Train 796 will terminate at Los Angeles and bus service will be provided for all missed stops.

  • Southbound Trains 580, 768, 774, 792, 1564 and 1584 will operate normally to Irvine, where bus service will be provided from Irvine to San Diego. Express buses will run from Irvine to San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and downtown San Diego only.

  • Northbound Trains 593, 595, 763, 777, 785, 579, 1761 and 1767 will originate in Irvine. Bus service will be provided from San Diego to Irvine to connect with the trains listed above, except for Train 1761. Buses will depart downtown San Diego, Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano earlier than the train schedule to allow time to connect with trains in Irvine. o Buses will not pick up at Old Town San Diego. Passengers can take the trolley to downtown San Diego to board buses to Irvine.

    • Bus service will not be provided to connect with Train 1761.

    • Metrolink will honor Amtrak tickets between Irvine and Los Angeles.

San Joaquins Service

Effective October 13 and 14, 2019

Bridge work being performed by BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad will affect San Joaquins service on Sunday, October 13 and Monday, October 14, as described below:

Sunday, October 13:

  • Northbound Trains 715 and 717, which normally operate from Bakersfield to Oakland (Jack London Square), will operate between Bakersfield, Stockton and intermediate stations only. Bus service will be provided from Stockton to Martinez. At Martinez, passengers can board a Capitol Corridor train to Oakland and intermediate stations. No alternate transportation will be provided to Antioch.

  • Southbound Trains 716 and 718, which normally operate from Oakland to Bakersfield, will operate from Stockton to Bakersfield only. Passengers can utilize Capitol Corridor service from Oakland to Martinez. Bus service will be provided from Martinez to Stockton. At Stockton, passengers can board Trains 716 and 718. No alternate transportation will be provided to Antioch.

  • Northbound Train 719, which normally operates from Bakersfield to Oakland (Jack London Square), will operate between Bakersfield, Stockton and intermediate stations only. Bus service will be provided from Stockton to Oakland (Jack London Square) and all intermediate stations.

Monday, October 14:

  • Northbound Trains 711, 713 and 715, which normally operate from Bakersfield to Oakland (Jack London Square), will operate between Bakersfield, Stockton and intermediate stations only. Bus service will be provided from Stockton to Martinez. At Martinez, passengers can board a Capitol Corridor train to Oakland and intermediate stations. Bus service will also be provided Stockton to Antioch. No alternate transportation will be provided between Antioch and Martinez.

  • Southbound Trains 710, 712, 714 and 716, which normally operate from Oakland to Bakersfield, will operate from Stockton to Bakersfield only. Passengers can utilize Capitol Corridor service from Oakland to Martinez. Bus service will be provided from Martinez to Stockton. At Stockton, passengers can board Trains 710, 712, 714 and 716. Bus service will also be provided Antioch to Stockton. No alternate transportation will be provided between Antioch and Martinez.

San Francisco Thruway Stop Moves to a New Location

Effective Oct. 28, 2019

Effective Oct. 28, Amtrak Thruway buses will stop at the Salesforce Plaza in place of the Transbay Temporary Terminal stop.

Salesforce Plaza is an unstaffed, curbside stop on the south side of Mission at Fremont. It is adjacent to the aerial tramway (gondola) that runs from the Plaza to the top of the Salesforce Transit Center Terminal. Passengers requiring a staffed station may use Emeryville and Oakland Jack London Square.

For bookings and train status information or tickets visit Amtrak.com, use our free mobile app, speak with station personnel or call us at 800-USA-RAIL (800-872-7245). Thank you for choosing Amtrak.

Downeaster Service Schedule Change

Effective October 21, 2019

Due to seasonal ridership changes, Downeaster Service will make schedule adjustments as outlined below:


  • Train 692 will operate 30 minutes later than the current schedule.

  • Train 696 will operate 45 minutes earlier than the current schedule.


  • Train 691 will operate 10 minutes later than the current schedule.

  • Train 693 will operate one hour and 40 minutes later than the current schedule.

  • Train 697 will operate 45 minutes earlier than the current schedule. Old Orchard Beach station stop will be discontinued during the off season.

Jefferson City Station Waiting Room Temporarily Closed

Effective Immediately

The Jefferson City 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. City volunteers will be on site to help with questions or directions during scheduled train times.

Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Lake Shore Limited Schedule Change

Effective Oct. 11-13, 2019

Due to trackwork being performed between Albany and New York, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express and Lake Shore Limited schedules are affected as outlined below.

Friday, Oct. 11

  • Train 49 will operate 15 minutes later than normal at all stations from Rhinecliff to Albany, departing Albany at the normal time of 7:05 pm.

  • Trains 238, 242 and 244 will depart Albany up to 20 minutes later than normal and will operate on a later schedule at all stations between Albany and New York.

  • Train 290 will depart Albany at 11:25 am, 15 minutes later than normal and will operate on a later schedule at all stations between Albany and New York.

Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 12-13

  • Train 49 will operate 15 minutes later than normal at all stations between Rhinecliff and Albany, departing Albany at the normal time of 7:05 pm.

  • Train 68 will operate 5 minutes later than normal at all stations between Rhinecliff and New York.

  • Trains 238, 244, 256 and 260 will depart Albany up to 20 minutes later than normal and will operate on a later schedule at all stations between Albany and New York.

  • Train 292 will depart Albany at 2:30 pm, 20 minutes later than normal and will operate on a later schedule at all stations between Albany and New York.

  • Train 296 will operate 10 minutes later than normal at all stations from Rhinecliff to New York.

All other trains will operate normally but may see delays up to 15 minutes through the work area. For detailed schedule changes, and the most up to date times, please visit Amtrak.com.

Pacific Surfliner One Day Schedule Change

Effective October 12, 2019

Track Work in Southern California will affect service between Los Angeles and Anaheim

Track work being performed from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 will affect Pacific Surfliner service as described below.

Pacific Surfliner Service, Northbound Trains:

  • Trains 591 and 595 which normally operate between San Diego and Los Angeles, will terminate at Anaheim. Buses 4891 and 4895 will be provided between Anaheim and Los Angeles, making the intermediate stop at Fullerton.

  • Some trains may be delayed up to 15 minutes passing through the work location.

Pacific Surfliner Service, Southbound Trains:

  • Train 792, which normally operates between Goleta and San Diego, will operate as Train 1792 from Goleta to Los Angeles, as Bus 4892 from Los Angeles to Anaheim and as Train 792 from Anaheim to San Diego.

  • Train 796, which normally operates between San Luis Obispo and San Diego, will operate as Train 1796 from San Louis Obispo to Los Angeles, as Bus 4896 from Los Angeles to Anaheim and as Train 796 from Anaheim to San Diego.

  • All buses will make the intermediate stop at Fullerton.

San Joaquins Extra Allensworth Stop Annual Rededication

Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019

The Annual Rededication will be held at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Trains 702, 710, 712, 713, 714, 715, 717 and 719 will make special stops at Allensworth to accommodate passengers attending the event.

The special Annual Rededication helps the Department of Parks and Recreation preserve the diverse history of California.

NEC Schedule Changes

Effective September 23, 2019

As part of a periodic review of schedules we are making changes to better align to customer demand.

  • Train 111 will depart New York 15 minutes earlier and make additional stops for passenger convenience.

  • Train 127 will operate Wednesday through Friday between New York and Washington, D.C.

  • Train 151 will operate Monday and Tuesday, only and operate on a faster schedule with fewer stops.

  • Acela Trains 2401 and 2402 will run nonstop Monday through Friday between New York and Washington, D.C.

Amtrak Station

Train 151

Monday - Tuesday

Train 111

Monday - Friday

Train 127

Wednesday - Friday

New York

4:40 AM

5:15 AM

4:05 PM


R 4:56 AM

R 5:30 AM

R 4:20 PM

Newark Airport



4:27 PM


5:10 AM

5:43 AM

4:37 PM

New Brunswick


5:54 AM


Princeton Junction


6:07 AM



5:36 AM

6:16 AM

5:00 PM

Philadelphia 30th St.

6:04 AM

6:51 AM

5:32 PM


6:28 AM

7:13 AM

5:53 PM



7:44 AM



7:17 AM

8:08 AM

6:40 PM

B.W.I Airport

7:30 AM

8:25 AM

6:54 PM

New Carrollton

D 7:48 AM

D 8:39 AM

D 7:09 PM

Washington, DC

8:05 AM

8:56 AM

7:30 PM

Amtrak Station

Train 2401

Monday - Friday

Amtrak Station

Train 2402

Monday - Friday

New York

6:35 AM

Washington, DC

4:30 PM

Washington, DC

9:12 AM

New York

7:05 PM

Keystone Service Schedule Changes

Effective through Nov. 3, 2019

Due to track work being performed along the Keystone Service line, some schedules will be affected through Nov. 3 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 15 minutes earlier 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

Elizabethtown Station Boarding

  • Track 2 will be closed for boarding effective July 22, 2019

  • Passengers traveling to Harrisburg will need to board on Track 1

Travelers’ Tip For The Week

Buy One Ticket, Get One Free When You Share a Bedroom or Roomette

For a limited time, you can save the cost of an entire fare when you and a friend or family member share a Roomette or Bedroom.

Buy one fare and get one free when you reserve a room together on your next weekend adventure or cross-country trek. In addition to Amtrak’s flexible dining service aboard the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited, effective October 1 the Cardinal, City of New Orleans, Crescent, and Silver Meteor also offer flexible dining service.

Meals remain included in the price of your ticket—except for the Silver Star, where customers can purchase meals, snacks and beverages in the Café.

Book between October 8 and 14 for travel from November 11, 2019 to April 8, 2020.

Terms and Conditions Apply:

  • Valid for one (1) free companion rail fare traveling in the same roomette, bedroom or family room with the purchase of one (1) regular (full) adult fare.

  • The free companion and full fare passenger must travel together in the same room and reserve in the same reservation.

  • Valid for sale October 8 - 14, 2019.

  • Valid for travel November 11, 2019 - April 8, 2020.

  • Blackout dates: November 21 - December 3, 2019, December 21 - 23, 2019 and December 27, 2019 - January 3, 2020.

  • Valid for travel in a roomette, bedroom or family room and is not valid for travel on the Auto Train.

  • The companion is subject to the same restrictions and conditions as the full fare passenger.

  • In addition to the discount restrictions; this offer is also subject to any restrictions, blackouts and refund rules that apply to the type of fare purchased.

  • Rooms must be cancelled at least 15 days prior to scheduled departure for a refund and a 25 percent cancellation fee applies.

  • Rooms cancelled less than 15 days prior to scheduled departure and prior to departure will receive a non-refundable evoucher and a 25 percent cancellation fee will apply.

  • Not combinable with any other discount offer.

  • Rooms are limited and are not available on all trains.

  • Fares are subject to availability.

  • Not valid for onboard ticket purchase.

  • Not combinable with any other discount.

  • Fares, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice.

  • Once travel has begun; no changes to the itinerary are permitted.

  • Other restrictions may apply.

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 fall vacation including trains (and who wouldn’t want to enjoy the fall colors?), 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!

Fall MemberDeals Announced

MemberDeals is already looking ahead to October as tickets for Halloween Horror Nights are already available for purchase. Summer Concerts Series sale continues with savings over 50% exclusive for Rail Passengers members. Celebrate concert season with the hottest concerts nationwide, from Luke Bryan, Third Eye Blind, Heart and The Who to name a few. Don’t miss out!

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.

Nominations Are Now Open For 2020 Election Of Council Of Representative Members

Rail Passengers’ is inviting all members in good standing to consider running for seats on the Council of Representatives, the Association’s volunteer governing body. The next election for seats on Council will occur in January 2020 for a two-year term starting March 1, 2020. Any Rail Passengers member, who has paid dues for at least one year, is at least 18-years of age and is a U.S. resident is eligible to run.

The Council consists of 112 elected state representatives. The number of representatives per state is determined by an equally weighted ratio of the Rail Passenger members in a given state and the state’s number of U.S. Representatives. Every state has at least one Council Representative. The certified number of Council seats to be elected, per state, in January 2020 can be found on the Rail Passenger website under ‘Join the Council’.

The Council of Representatives represents the overall Rail Passenger membership in setting and approving the overall policy and direction for the Association. The Council elects the Officers and Board of Directors of the Association, in addition to up to 10 ‘At-Large’ members of the Council. Serving on the Council is a great opportunity to collaborate with others who have a common interest in actively improving passenger rail service across the country. Council members are expected to encourage activities at the grass roots level to advance the Association’s goals and represent local needs, issues and activities at the national level.

The Council meets in person twice per year; in the spring in Washington, D.C., and in the fall at varied locations across the country. Council members are responsible for their own travel and meeting expenses to attend these gatherings and they may be able to apply these expenses on their federal tax returns. Incumbent Council Representatives who seek re-election must have attended at least two of the four meetings held during each Council term.

Members interested in running for a seat on the Council must complete and submit a Candidate Information Statement for review and qualification by 11:59 p.m. local time on December 1, 2019. The Candidate Information Statement is available on the Rail Passengers website or by requesting a printed copy from the Rail Passengers’ DC office. Complete information on serving on the Council of Representatives; detailed specifications on the election procedures and the Candidate Information Statement can be found on the Rail Passengers website under ‘Join the Council’

The Rail Passengers Association is only as strong as the leaders who step up and share their time and talents in working towards our collective goals. Please consider becoming one of these leaders and help make a difference in the future.

FYI...Due to next week's RailNation:California event, the next Hotline will be an abbreviated issue and will be published on Thursday, October 17. Full Hotline coverage will return the following Friday!