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Amtrak Cuts Schedules as Coronavirus Decimates Ridership

A federal infusion under the CARES Act may help get the rail system back on track

Amtrak service continues to operate on the Northeast Corridor, providing some essential transport services during this challenging time. However, a number of lines have been suspended due to reduced demand.

At the same time U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao says the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is making over $1 billion available to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) in response to measures and cuts aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States.  The funding is being provided under the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“This $1 billion in federal emergency assistance to Amtrak will help maintain service for its passengers when the economy recovers,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

Amtrak has experienced an unprecedented decline of over ninety percent in ridership in recent weeks as well as a decline in future ticket purchases for the coming months, and has pulled certain routes out of service.  The CARES Act funding will be used to offset the loss of ticket revenue, which is used to pay Amtrak’s employees, buy fuel for its operations and construction materials for its projects, and otherwise maintain Amtrak’s network of intercity passenger routes, including routes in rural areas that have seen total cancellation in service.  Ticket revenues also fund track and infrastructure maintenance programs on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor which millions of Americans use to commute to their jobs every day.

Under the CARES Act, FRA will make or amend existing grants to Amtrak to provide approximately $1.02 billion: $492,000,000 for the Northeast Corridor and $526,000,000 for the in National Network Grants.

Meanwhile, due to service reductions, some stations may not be staffed. If the station is closed, customers should proceed directly to the platform to board their train. Café service will also be suspended on select trains. Other services may be impacted as circumstances change.

Customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will be contacted and accommodated on trains with similar departure times or on another day.

Amtrak is waiving change fees for reservations made before May 31, 2020. To modify a reservation, customers can log in to their account, go to ‘Modify Trip’ on, or find their reservation from their account on the home screen in the Amtrak app. A fare difference may apply to a new itinerary. If customers want to cancel their reservation with no fee, they must call 800-USA-RAIL and speak with an agent (not available via or the Amtrak app).

The following route schedules have been reduced or suspended:

Operating on a reduced schedule:

• Adirondack (New York – Montreal): No service north of Albany

• Amtrak Hartford Line (New Haven, Conn. – Springfield, Mass.)

• Amtrak Thruway Bus routes

• California Zephyr (Chicago- Emeryville, Calif.): No service between Denver and Emeryville

• Capitol Corridor (San Jose – Sacramento)

• Cascades (Eugene – Vancouver, B.C.): No service north of Seattle

• Empire Service (New York – Niagara Falls)

• Ethan Allen Express (New York – Rutland, Vermont): No service north of Albany

• Hiawatha (Chicago – Milwaukee)

• Illini/Saluki (Chicago – Carbondale)

• Illinois Zephyr/Carl Sandburg (Chicago – Quincy)

• Lincoln Service (Chicago – St. Louis)

• Maple Leaf (New York – Toronto): No service west of Niagara Falls, New York

• Missouri River Runner (St. Louis – Kansas City)

• Northeast Regional (Boston – New York – Washington, DC – Virginia)

• Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo – San Diego)

• Piedmont (Charlotte – Raleigh)

• San Joaquins (Bakersfield – Oakland and Sacramento)

• Valley Flyer (New Haven, Conn. – Greenfield, Mass.)

• Vermonter (Washington – St. Albans): No service north of New Haven (Monday – Saturday) and no service on Sundays

• Wolverine (Chicago – Pontiac)

Amtrak suspended services:

• Acela (Boston – Washington, DC)

• Carolinian (Charlotte – New York)

• Downeaster (Boston – Brunswick, Maine)

• Keystone Service (Harrisburg – New York)

• Pennsylvanian (New York – Pittsburgh)

• Pere Marquette (Chicago – Grand Rapids)

• Winter Park Express (Denver – Winter Park Resort)