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With Passage of COVID Bill, Amtrak Restores Daily Service

March 10, 2021

Hours after the House of Representatives sent a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with emergency funds for intercity rail and transit to the president’s desk, Amtrak announced that it will restore 12 long-distance routes to daily service between May 24th and June 7.

For Immediate Release (21-02)

Contact: Sean Jeans-Gail (202) 320-2723; [email protected]

Washington, D.C. – Hours after the House of Representatives sent a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package with emergency funds for intercity rail and transit to the president’s desk, Amtrak announced that it will restore 12 long-distance routes to daily service between May 24th and June 7.

The bill includes $1.7 billion in emergency funding for Amtrak, paired with congressional mandates that Amtrak return daily service to long-distance routes within 90 days of passage and bring back railroad workers furloughed due to the pandemic. Rail Passengers—including staff, our council, and our members—fought hard for these inclusions. Not just the emergency funding, needed to stabilize service on the National Network and the Northeast Corridor, but also the requirements to restore service and workers as soon as possible.

“This is a real win for America's passengers and for the hundreds of communities served by Amtrak's long-distance trains, communities which suffered economic pain when they lost their service last summer,” said Jim Mathews, President & CEO of Rail Passengers Association. “We extend our thanks to the many champions of passenger rail in Congress who helped make this happen. We worked tirelessly with executive agencies, congressional leaders and, yes, Amtrak itself, to create urgency around the need to restore daily service just as soon as possible. Whether in testimony before House lawmakers or in private meetings with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, this Association worked overtime to create the preconditions Amtrak needed to restore services and recall its workforce.

“With large numbers of Americans vaccinated in time for the summer travel season, restoration of this service will be a boon for hundreds of suffering communities,” continued Mathews. “Passenger rail has always been an economic engine in the communities it serves, and now it will be an important tool for economic recovery. Our members are looking forward to a great summer!”

Daily travel is already live in the Amtrak reservation system, so you can begin booking your travel for this summer now.

[Table courtesy of Amtrak]

May 24 May 31 June 7
California Zephyr (Chicago – Omaha – Denver – Salt Lake City – San Francisco) Capitol Limited (Washington DC – Pittsburgh – Cleveland – Chicago) Crescent (New York – Washington DC – Atlanta – New Orleans)
Coast Starlight (Seattle – Portland – Sacramento – Oakland – Los Angeles City of New Orleans (Chicago – Memphis – Jackson – New Orleans) Palmetto (New York – Washington DC – Charleston – Savannah)
Empire Builder (Chicago – St. Paul-Minneapolis – Spokane – Portland/Seattle) Lake Shore Limited (New York/Boston – Albany – Buffalo – Chicago) Silver Meteor (New York – Savannah – Jacksonville – Orlando – Miami)
Texas Eagle (Chicago – St. Louis – Dallas – San Antonio – Los Angeles) Southwest Chief (Chicago – Kansas City – Albuquerque – Los Angeles) Silver Star (New York – Raleigh – Jacksonville – Orlando – Tampa – Miami)

Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn has been a vocal in his advocacy for this relief funding, telling members of Congress that the railroad was committed to the National Network, but that the additional funding was absolutely necessary—not only to restore service, but to prevent further cuts and furloughs.

“We thank Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the many champions of Amtrak, on both sides of the aisle, who helped secure $1.7 billion in federal funding for Amtrak in the American Rescue Plan," said Flynn in a statement released today. "This critical funding will benefit the entire Amtrak network, our state and commuter partners, customers and employees. With this support, we can restore daily long-distance service, bring back furloughed employees as a result of the pandemic and continue our progress on vital capital projects. We will work closely with Congress and the Biden Administration on next steps for funding to support Amtrak’s long-term growth. Funding options include expanding the Amtrak network through new corridor routes, that will create thousands of new jobs, reducing our nation’s carbon footprint, and helping the economy recover and flourish in the years ahead.”

About Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization serving as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the U.S. Our mission is to improve and expand conventional intercity and regional passenger train services, support higher speed rail initiatives, increase connectivity among all forms of transportation and ensure safety for our country's trains and passengers. All of this makes communities safer, more accessible and more productive, improving the lives of everyone who lives, works and plays in towns all across America.


[Correction: the original release misstated William Flynn's title. Flynn is Chief Executive Officer of Amtrak.]

Over the last year we’ve asked you to contact your congressional representatives about the need for a return to daily long-distance service – thank you for being such wonderful partners! There is more work to do, please consider donating today to help your professional staff continue our efforts with executive agencies, congressional leaders, Amtrak and public transit agencies. We can’t do this important work without you!

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