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Amtrak Auto Train Service Changes For May 2022

Source from Amtrak that announced in May 2022, Auto Train will have some changes as follows:

Auto Train Departure Time Change

Effective May 2, 2022

This spring, the departure and arrival of the Auto Train between Lorton, VA, and Sanford, FL, will slide one hour later. Additional changes outlined below.

Effective May 2, 2022, the following changes to the Auto Train schedule will occur:

  • Trains 52 and 53 depart at 5 pm and arrive at 9:59 am.
  • Check-in for all vehicle types begins at 12:30 pm and closes at 3 pm.
  • New daily station hours in Lorton and Sanford will be 9:15 am to 4:45 pm.


Source: Amtrak

Amtrak Ends Mask Mandate Requirement

As of Today, Tuesday, April 19, 2022, Amtrak announced that all passengers and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on board trains or in stations, masks are welcome and remain an important preventive measure against COVID-19. Anyone needing or choosing to wear one is encouraged to do so.

For more detailed information, go to https://www.amtrak.com/planning-booking/policies/coronavirus.html 

Amtrak Service Restoration

As of June 2022, there are some routes will be fully restored and new upgrades as follows according to Amtrak:

More detailed on the changes and upgrades:

Per Amtrak Schedule and Consist Planning

Service Plan changes, effective May 23, 2022 except where otherwise noted:

Long Distance

  • Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, and Lake Shore Limited are restored to daily service as of May 23, 2022.
  • Current 5X weekly schedules on the Crescent and City of New Orleans are extended through September 11.
  • Silver Meteor suspension is extended through September 11, 2022.
  • Capitol Limited-Texas Eagle equipment run through is discontinued May 2.
  • Consists are adjusted on several routes, reflecting lower expected car availability and OBS workforce limitations.
  • On the Cardinal, excess Combination Sleeper Roomettes not occupied by OBS crew will be made available for revenue sale.

Northeast Corridor

  • Expanded weekday Acela service, adding 1 start at each of BOS, NYP, and WAS. This schedule is 27% increase in weekday Acela train miles relative to the current schedule.
  • NE Regional weekend (Thursday-Sunday) consist expansions, including opening the existing 6th coach on several trains and targeted additions of a 7th coach.
  • Sunday Train 123 (dp. NYP 9PM) is suspended. Sunday Train 139 is extended to Washington, departing NYP at 10PM. This change saves a New York turn and makes the last train of the evening a through train.
  • New Amtrak-branded Thruway bus service begins between Philadelphia and Reading, PA effective May 9. See attached schedule for details.

State Supported

  • Train 391 and 392 suspension is extended through September 11.
  • Lincoln-River Runner through service established. Existing Trains 303/313 and 314/304 will become Trains 318 and 319 operating Chicago-St. Louis-Kansas City, with minor schedule adjustments between St. Louis and Kansas City.
  • The following additional service changes also are on the radar for later in the Summer period. Subsequent updates will be issued as these plans are finalized.

Restoration Service:
  • Maple Leaf to Toronto (tentative June 27, 2022).
  • Additional Surfliner frequencies (June 2022).
  • Virginia: Second frequencies to Roanoke, Norfolk, and Newport News (July 2022).
  • Ethan Allen to Burlington (July 22, 2022).
  • Berkshire Flyer (July 8, 2022).
  • Adirondack (date TBD).
  • 2nd River Runner (date TBD).

Source: Thanks to Empire State Passengers Association for this information.

The New Amtrak Schedules For Service Changes

When Amtrak cut back most of its long-distance trains from daily operation in October 2020, in anticipation of reduced demand and a lack of federal funds to keep its network intact, the only day a traveler from Florida could connect to the Capitol Limited or Cardinal at Washington, or the Lake Shore Limited at New York, was Wednesday.

Under the plan Amtrak revealed last Friday, no same-day connections to those westbound trains are possible at all because the Miami-New York Silver Meteor has been cancelled entirely until at least March 28.

The Meteor cancellation also means all connections with trains west of Albany-Rennselaer, N.Y., are broken. With the Silver Star as the only connecting option north and east of New Haven, Conn., only 6 a.m. Acela and 6:10 a.m. Northeast Regional Boston departures will connect southbound; northbound, a connection is shown from the Star to the last Northeast Regional train to Boston (that gets in after midnight) leaving Washington at 4:02 p.m., but through ticketing to the westbound Capitol Limited at 4:05 p.m. isn’t currently allowed. If the train from Florida is late, overnight No. 66 from Newport News has also been cancelled, so there is no backup option.

This is but one of the connection issues apparent in the table above, created from information provided by Amtrak but not currently available on the company’s website.

The grid shows that cutbacks for trains not cancelled entirely were designed so that each train’s mid-route cancellations occur on consecutive days. This theoretically will give Amtrak some wiggle room should sufficient operating, onboard service, or maintenance crews become unavailable along the route, or out-of-service cars and locomotives accumulate. There have been a number of instances of late departures the last several weeks attributed to equipment issues.

The Meteor, which normally operates with three sleeping cars, delivered more revenue in February 2021 — $1.2 million, operating four days per week — than any long-distance train except the daily Auto Train. (It was also topped only by the California Zephyr in February 2020 because that year, the figure included Winter Park Express revenue.) The Silver Star also topped $1 million last February, running on a different route through the Carolinas and serving Tampa, Fla., but that train’s circuitous journey is more than two hours slower than the Meteor.

The cancellations two days per week will also adversely affect corridors with or without additional state-supported service. An example: there will be no Thursday-Friday Empire Builder from Chicago to the Twin Cities, and no Saturday or Sunday St. Paul-Chicago trains. This is a corridor which the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota hope to augment with an additional round trip once infrastructure improvements are made. Also notable in the Chicago hub: no Monday morning City of New Orleans from Champaign, Ill., a city which has also been affected by cuts to state-supported trains.

It basically reinforces the belief of many critics that from Amtrak management’s vantage point, passengers who ride long-distance trains are different than everyone else, even if they don’t ride long distances. The cuts illustrated in the table below will have minimal impact compared to wholesale cancellations on the long-distance routes.

Other ramifications

How did the company get in this position?

Amtrak management has continued to disinvest in national network operating, onboard service, and maintenance staff. After deciding not to reactivate sufficient equipment to capture long distance revenue — its highest revenue-per-passenger segment last summer — the company also made no effort to step up recruiting at crew bases last fall, which has left operations vulnerable to the uncertainties of the labor market and COVID-19 variants.

Trains News Wire learned from an employee in late November that discussions of adding at least one new conductor at a Midwest crew base were not followed up. And in two instances experienced firsthand between October and December, trains were operated on at least one segment without an assistant conductor because no one was available to work that day.

Onboard service workers traveling on one long-distance train when the cutbacks were announced were reportedly told to rebid their positions and were not told that the new five-day-per-week schedule is “temporary.” Rebidding when operational changes occur is standard procedure and doesn’t necessarily mean positions are being eliminated, but the changes exacerbate a sense that job security could be threatened, and thus makes recruitment more problematic.

The new long-distance schedules mean operating personnel away from home at the end of a five-day cycle will either have to deadhead, be vanned back to their base, or be compensated with “held away” pay. This adds costs and may require new transportation vendors to be identified and paid. This was one reason frequency cutbacks during mid-1990s budget squeezes did not achieve anticipated cost savings.

That isn’t a problem now. Congress has repeatedly telegraphed to Amtrak management over the past year that it expects robust investment in the national network, first appropriating COVID-19 relief funds in 2020 and early 2021, then doubling down in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Amtrak reauthorization language in that legislation stresses the importance of long-distance service, and includes $16 billion for national-network investment over five years.

The language was in the bill long before it was passed in November, but Amtrak management has yet to prove it intends to make serious attempts to grow its business rather than fall victim to events precipitated by a lack of vision or investment planning. The latest cutbacks are evidence company leaders still haven’t taken seriously the stated mission to provide national mobility.



Source: Story and image are provided and credits by Trains.com

Amtrak Decrease service Starting January 24th

WASHINGTON — Amtrak will reduce Northeast Corridor, long-distance, and state-supported train frequencies between Jan. 24 and March 27, the passenger railroad announced Friday evening, citing “staffing challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the highly active Omicron variant.”

Overall, plans will amount to an 8% reduction in train departures over the 63-day period. That will include 8% of Northeast Regional departures; two weekly departures on nine long-distance routes, which will be reduced to five-day-a-week operation; complete suspension of the Silver Meteor for the 10-week period; and 6% of state-supported regional service. However, the head of one regional operation contacted by Trains News Wire was unaware of the national network cuts or the staffing impacts on that individual’s service.

Cancellations were first implemented this week on trains whose onboard service crews are based in Los Angeles. The eastbound Southwest Chief did not leave Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 9, and Wednesday, Jan. 12, while its while its westbound counterpart was cancelled Wednesday and Saturday, Jan. 15. The Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight also had departures cancelled.

In addition to the Chief and Starlight, long-distance trains to see frequency reductions are the California Zephyr, Empire Builder, Crescent, Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited and City of New Orleans. The only trains maintaining daily frequency will be the Silver StarPalmetto, and Auto Train; the triweekly Cardinal and Sunset Limited will maintain that frequency.

According to the announcement, while the Meteor is suspended, the Silver Star and Palmetto will see “a corresponding increase in capacity, as dictated by demand.”

Amtrak said that while nearly 97% of employees are fully vaccinated, “several hundred of our on-board service personnel, conductors, engineers, and mechanical crews continue to be impacted by COVID infections or exposures …  These Covid-related absences, when combined with the general skilled workforce shortage Amtrak and other transportation companies are facing, have reduced our ability to consistently deliver our current schedules and impacted the pace of hiring and training efforts.”

Trains News Wire has asked Amtrak for more information and is analyzing the impact on connections through the reservation system, since the company has not indicated which trains are cancelled on each route each week. The company said it is working to rebook passengers on remaining frequencies and ensure that all routes maintain frequencies sufficient to meet demand. “Given the recent roughly 25% reduction in customer demand now occurring because of the Omicron variant and typical season travel patterns, we expect minimal impacts to overall ridership because of these temporary changes,” Amtrak said in Friday’s release.”

In most cases, passengers will offered same-day travel alternatives; when there is no same-day option, rebooking will be offered within one day of the original departure date. Those who were scheduled on the Silver Meteor will be offered alternatives including the Silver Star, Palmetto, Carolinian, and Northeast Regional.

Therefore, Amtrak is going to go through next weekend with normal service and begin on January 24th with the Southwest Chief being the first train to end daily service. Here is a list of when daily service will end with each train:

Southwest Chief: January 24th
Lake Shore Limited: January 25th
Texas Eagle: January 26th
Coast Starlight: January 26th
Empire Builder: January 27th
Capitol Limited: January 28th
California Zephyr: January 30th
City of New Orleans: January 30th

Silver Meteor will be completely suspended for almost 2 1/2 months starting January 24, 2022 while Silver Star will operate with extra train cars and the Palmetto will takeover the portion of Silver Meteor route between New York City and Savannah, GA so therefore, any passengers who travel south can take the Palmetto until Savannah then transfer to Silver Star to continue south in Florida, same for the north as well.


Source: Story was provided by Trains.com and Amtrak.com