Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Amtrak Prepares for a Post-Covid Roll

The joy of train travel is getting a boost from Amtrak’s aggressive rail recovery program

March 24, 2021

As part of its COVID-19 recovery efforts, Amtrak is moving at full bore into restoring daily service for 12 long distance routes following drastic pandemic-related schedule reductions in 2020. Providing customers significantly more departures for the upcoming summer travel season, the new schedule has been updated on all Amtrak reservation systems, including and the Amtrak app.

Due to COVID relief funding, Amtrak will sustain and restore operations and recall the more than 1,200 furloughed employees through the remainder of FY21 and into FY22. The funding is pending President Biden’s signature on the final bill.

“Offering daily long distance service represents a vital step in our road to recovery,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. “Recognizing the immense value of our employees, we’d like to thank Congress for enabling service restoration and helping us recall furloughed employees.”

The daily schedules will commence in May and be grouped into three phases:

All destinations and scheduled departure/arrival times served by the long distance network will be maintained. Additionally, Amtrak will continue to operate the Auto Train daily and the Cardinal and Sunset Limited trains tri-weekly, as it has been done historically.

The schedule restoration is a critical part of Amtrak’s strategy for investing in long distance service. Other components include:

The debut of the new Viewliner II sleeping cars on the Silver Service, the first addition to the Amtrak sleeper fleet in over two decades

Upgraded bedding, towels and linens in private rooms aboard the Auto Train, with additional routes rolling out starting in summer

Fully-refreshed Amfleet II cars for Coach class routes along East Coast, including new seating cushions, carpets, curtains and LED reading lights

• Multi-year interior refresh program for Superliner and Viewliner I equipment—including new seating cushions, carpet and curtains—beginning to enter service this summer

New Amtrak ALC-42 diesel-electric locomotives with higher performance and lower emissions will begin to replace the current long distance engine fleet this year

Improved lounge experience for all private room customers—including the debut of the Metropolitan Lounge in the Moynihan Train Hall at New York Penn Station

Enhancements to the Auto Train customer experience

From New York City to the California coast; from Florida beaches to the Sierra Nevada; and from the Windy City to heart of the Big Easy, Amtrak’s historic long distance routes will offer more bang for the buck going forward:

Private Rooms: For a truly unique experience, private rooms offer the option for added privacy and space on a short trip and added comfort and amenities when traveling overnight. All customers traveling in private rooms enjoy complimentary lounge access in stations and meals onboard. Amtrak recently launched the addition of private rooms on select Northeast Regional trains operating overnight between Washington, D.C., New York and Boston.

Better Baggage Policies: Customers can bring up to two checked bags, two carry-on bags and two personal items, free. 

Destination: National Parks Amtrak offers access to and through several U.S. National Parks, including Glacier National Park and Harpers Ferry. Amtrak Vacations also offers numerous National Parks-themed packages to choose from.

Saver Ways: Saver Fares are available on each route and customers can save 20 percent over the standard Coach fare when booked 14 days in advance. Kids ride for 50 percent off; seniors can save 10%.