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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Amtrak extends cuts to seven long-distance routes into May

Amtrak extends cuts to seven long-distance routes into May

By Bob Johnston | March 3, 2022

Capitol Limited, Texas Eagle, and Coast Starlight resume daily operation March 28; Northeast Corridor and some state-supported routes also see cuts continue

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Passenger train passes commuter-train station
Passenger train passes commuter-train station
The westbound California Zephyr passes through Western Springs, Ill., on Feb. 26, 2022. The Zephyr is one of seven trains that will not have daily service restored on March 28, as had previously been indicated. (Trains: David Lassen)

WASHINGTON — Travelers already booked on some Amtrak long-distance trains in April and May are being advised today (Thursday, March 3) to rebook their trips as the passenger carrier extends its frequency reductions on seven routes.

Amtrak had cut service from daily to five days a week on most of its long-distance routes in January, making the change on less than a week’s notice [see “Amtrak to decrease service on most routes …,” News Wire January 14, 2022].

At the time, it said the cuts would be effective through March 27. The company had offered no details on further cancellations before it began notifying passengers, but in a midday Thursday email to Trains News Wire, said it was extending service reductions to the Silver Meteor, Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Southwest Chief, Lake Shore Limited, City of New Orleans, and Crescent beyond that date.

Thursday’s announcement, unlike the one in January, offered no tentative dates to restore daily service. “We continue to work on further frequency additions for the coming months as staffing and other resources allow,” today’s statement reads. The company used similar language in announcing the January reductions, inferring that some trains might return before March 27, although none did.

Daily service will return March 28 for the Capitol Limited, Texas Eagle, and Coast Starlight. In addition, all seven Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha weekday round trips and full weekend service will be restored, as will nine weekday trips each way between New York City and Albany-Rensselaer, N.Y. Other state-supported and Northeast Corridor cuts announced in January are to continue indefinitely.

While Amtrak has not set a date for restoring daily service on the remaining five-day-a-week long-distance routes, online booking on the Amtrak website allows ticket purchases before Memorial Day on all seven routes, as of these dates:

Silver Meteor: Monday, May 23 northbound; Wednesday, May 25 southbound.

California Zephyr and Southwest Chief: Monday, May 23.

Crescent and Lake Shore Limited: Tuesday, May 24.

Empire Builder: Thursday, May 26.

City of New Orleans: Saturday, May 28.

However, that does not constitute a commitment by Amtrak to operate those trains, as those who had purchased tickets for April and May trips have learned.

“This is our spring schedule,” spokesman Marc Magliari tells News Wire. “We will announce details of a summer schedule at a later date.”

Asked to clarify whether the May return dates were definite, Amtrak responded with this statement: “These restorations follow frequency reductions resulting from staffing and hiring shortages for skilled technical employees caused by the pandemic. We are working towards further frequency restorations on other impacted routes in the coming months as our hiring, training and staffing levels advance.”

10 thoughts on “Amtrak extends cuts to seven long-distance routes into May

  1. With all the equipment issues Amtrak is experiencing one has to wonder if that is the real reason for the five day a week operations.

  2. To me this is double talk. I am disappointed in AMTRAK. The passenger railroads ran their trains in all sorts of weather. Now the host railroad has to add freight power because the AMTRAK power can’t word in bad weather.

    Ed Burns

  3. Come on Amtrak get it together! Riders are ready to use passenger trains but cutting frequencies is a huge disappointment! If the administration is having difficulty on how to get trains running, call upon our allies Japan, Germany, Spain, Italy so they can show you ‘how to run & or operate passenger trains!!!

  4. Another attempt by Amtrak mgmt to sabotage the future of LD routes. At a time when gas prices are high & people may be looking for an alternative travel option in the post covid travel season mgmt pulls another stunt. My prediction is Amtrak will pretend to p*** away the money congress gave for the national network claiming it was used to cover LD “losses” sorry no money left for new LD equipment. Then proceed to make the cuts permanent due to lack of serviceable equipment causing ridership to plummet resulting in “unsustainable losses” which will require routes to be eliminated one by one leaving the only thing that counts to Amtrak mgmt…the NEC.

    1. I agree with you Galen. And I thought all along this wa coming. Can’t wait to see the NARP/RPA “Hotline News” tomorrow evening. Wonder how their Amtrak shill idiot child President James Mathews is going to spin this one. Sleepy Joe if he wasn’t so sleepy should get SecTrans Buttigieg to either sack Stephen Gardner, his entire “management “team”, and the entire BoD or yank that $66b before it disappears without a trace. “Amtrak Joe” my a*s!

      1. Amtrak Joe my {bum}. One more failure to add to Joe Biden’s countless other failures. Even the most incompetent are supposed to get something, one thing, right. Amtrak Joe hasn’t. Amtrak Joe can’t even get Amtrak to stop getting worse. Amtrak is in shambles.

        After a few years of Amtrak, maybe around 1974, the late John Shedd Reed, CEO of ATSF, complained that Amtrak had ruined his train, that the Amtrak Super Chief wasn’t up to Santa Fe standards. Well, it’s been downhill ever since. What John Reed moaned about in the 1970’s was a whole lot better than what we have now. Or ever will have again.

        Don’t count on Pete Buttigieg. At one time I had some hope for Mayor Pete. No longer. It seems that Biden has a knack for bring people down to his own level, which is to say, the IQ of a senile amoeba.

        While I’m at the keyboard, a note about the corridors. Wolverine, Illini, Hiawatha, Cascades, etc. They wouldn’t even exist without the states. It being the states that drive the corridors, what the hell is Amtrak for? As Galen posts above, just the NEC.

        1. Mark and Charles everything you say is true. Let me 3rd that Amtrak Joe my a**. As long as Gardiner and the fly boys are running the show, it’s Red Sky at Morning at Amtrak

  5. My wife and I had hoped to plan a train trip with our grandkids this summer. But with the way Amtrak has been playing ping pong with its train schedules we’re afraid to book a trip. This is a ridiculous way to run things. I agree with previous post that the upper management at Amtrak are trying to kill long distance train service.

  6. How is Amtrak management any different from the vast majority of major non financialist corporations who have lead us to the not made here world we are in.

  7. I’d like to see the railroads fight back when Amtrak keeps complaining about their service operations, like it or not, unlike European and Asian passenger rail where they built and own their tracks, complaining about using someone else’s tracks is like inviting someone to your home, but they complain about the way you cook dinner, like it or not Amtrak has to operate on another company’s tracks, they’ve had over 50 years of doing this, either build your own high speed tracks or get in another line of business.

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