News & Reviews News Wire Amtrak to decrease service on most routes Jan. 24 to March 27

Amtrak to decrease service on most routes Jan. 24 to March 27

By David Lassen | January 14, 2022

Most long-distance trains to be trimmed to five days a week, with 'Silver Meteor' suspended entirely; Northeast Regional, state-supported trains will also see reductions

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Passengers on platform with train stopped at station
Passengers fill the platform during a Silver Meteor stop in 2018. The Meteor is being suspended Jan. 24 to March 27 as part of Amtrak service cuts. (Bob Johnston)

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 Star, Palmetto, 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.

30 thoughts on “Amtrak to decrease service on most routes Jan. 24 to March 27

    1. Please oh please GIVE IT A BREAK Mr. Landey. Your BS sure is getting old on this site. Can’t you find somewhere else to post you propaganda.

  1. I noticed in the Amtrak story that there was no mention of the Oklahoma/Texas “Heartland Flyer” passenger train. Has it been affected by the cuts?

  2. All one had to do is look at the LD trains during the Thanksgiving and Christmas peak travel season. While the airlines were melting down Amtrak did nothing. The Capitol Ltd. ran at 5 cars the entire time except for one trip. Enough said.

  3. If you want to debate the virus, vaccines, masks, or the competence of those making public comments about those topics, go to another board. This is a place to discuss Amtrak making service cuts and the excuse for said cuts. I see that Amtrak is just searching for an excuse to make another cut to attempt to kill the long distant train.

  4. Mr. Wayman of course you are correct about Austin TX. But Charles’ point is what resonates, at least with me. I’m afraid he’s correct that all the LDs could be discontinued tomorrow and the vast majority would never notice. And there’s plenty of blame to go around as to why in 5 decades the current routes never gained even one more train and why there has been little to no route expansion. But to return to the present, it’s very clear, at least to me, that Flynn, Gardner, and Coscia dynamited their railroad In October 2021. And according to Trains’ Bob Johnson, Coscia, who’s term has expired elevated Gardner to both top posts in order to cement the NEC=Northeast Corridor=Nothing Else Counts focus. Why has Amtrak’s entire Board whose terms have expired not been replaced or new people not even nominated? Isn’t that required in the recent Infrastructure bill that is now law? I think that job belongs to POTUS. And he’s had a few distractions lately. And there’s some who have changed that “Amtrak Joe” moniker to “Corridor Joe”.

    1. MARK — “Little to no expansion”, you post. Several corridors have been added including in California, Virginia, North Carolina, Detroit to Pontiac, and others, credit where due. There have also been a bunch of routes gone:— Routes now gone include: Wyoming to Portland, Salt Lake to LA via Las Vegas, NYC-CHI via Fort Wayne, New York to Saint Louis via Columbus, MSP to Seattle via the Northern Pacific route, MSP to Duluth, New Orleans to Florida, Chicago to Peoria, Chicago to Janesville, the Texas Chief, Chicago to London and Toronto via Lansing and Port Huron/ Sarnia, Detroit to Toledo, Detroit to Buffalo via St. Thomas, Chicago to Florida via Nashville, the Auto Train out of Louisville, Harley’s Hornet in West Virginia, and the Mountaineer.

    2. The corridors of “Amtrak Joe’s” mind are a few brain cells shy of “vegetable”.

      Let me tell you the truth, as someone who actually has been impacted.

      Amtrak cancelled my train (#14 on 1/27) six days ago and as of this moment I have not received any notification, email, text or call from them, whatsoever.

      But for the railfan grapevine, I would know nothing about it.

      I booked my own workaround from LA through Bakersfield by bus and train #715 to EMY. Of course, tge scenic trip that I wanted is now shot to hell and instead of the Pacific Ocean and Cuesta grade, l’ll spend hours looking at lettuce fields and crime infested San Joaquin Valley slums.

      They can lie all they want to “Trains” and other publications but Amtrak isn’t doing jack for the passengers they have unceremoniously dumped.

      Cue the Amtrak apologists.

  5. What do Boise, Madison, Columbus, Austin and Nashville have in common? Besides being state capitals.

    Answer — all five have grown and prospered beyond expectation, without Amtrak service. Madison and Austin never, the others not recently.

    If Amtrak doesn’t get its act together soon and very soon, there’s a whole lot of other cities that won’t have Amtrak service. For the most part life will go on pretty much as before. There’s not much difference between three to five to seven train pairs a week, and none at all. Compare the destination board at the Atlanta Airport to that at Peachtree Station. If I’m up to date, Atlanta will have five Amtrak NB departures and five SB arrivals per week, until the line to New Orleans re-opens. If an Atlanta reisdent wants to go to Charlotte, Richmond or Washington and can wait a couple of days and put up with slow and late-running trains, Amtrak will be just fine. Anywhere else, no Amtrak.

  6. Another up and down for the AMTRAK yo-yo. I want to ride long-distance again looks like it will be another year before I can.

  7. Here’s something everyone, including the CDC and Fauci ignore: even if you are infected with Covid, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, as long as you are wearing an N95 or KN95 mask(such as that worn by health care workers) you can’t possibly spread the virus to anyone…the whole point of N95/KN95 is that it prevents spread of the virus…so who screwing who here?

    1. I’m happy you believe that. I don’t. The virus spreads itslef no matter what. Focus should be on treatment, not spread – bc/ controlling spread is impossible.

  8. The Palmetto serves all the Meteor stops north of Savannah and the Star catches all of them south of Savannah so all stops still have at least one train.

  9. I live on the west coast and am not as familiar with the operation of the Silver service. I’m curious why the Meteor was canceled and the Star left in service.
    I do recall the diner being pulled from the Star several years ago. Was it ever returned?

  10. Seeing Amtrak perform stunts like this makes me wonder if Amtrak has a death wish. Sooner or later the powers that be will say enough and pull the plug and let the states in the northeast and mid-Atlantic form a compact to support the service there. As for the rest, let the Rocky Mountaineers and Brightlines take over what they feel is possible from a business standpoint and let the others die a dignified death.

    1. From what I read at Trainorders, in spite of all the alleged problems Gardner cites for this latest train-reduction the weekend Colorado Ski Train will still operate as scheduled. Somehow he has the equipment and crews for this but not for all the state-supported the coach/cafe car only services. And speaking of PRIIA 209, if Amtrak decides to reduce the number of a state’s trains, does that reduce the amount of $$$ that state has to pay Amtrak proportionally?

    2. Actually, I have believed for many, many years now that we ought to get rid of Amtrak and replace it with something better. But I’m not sure what.

      One idea I’ve had is to return the passenger trains to the Class 1 railroads and have the government give them an incentive to run them. For this to work, however, billions would need to be first spent on new equipment.

  11. From here on can we comment on the very troubling subject of this article, please? What the hell does “DARPA Fauci” have to do with Amtrak train-offs like discontinuing the the NY-FL train with the highest ridership of the two that run the route? Why are some of you pillorying Dr. Fauci who has nothing to do with this instead of Stephen Gardner, Anthony Coscia, and that band of flyboys that Richard Anderson brought in while at the same time forcing out all or most of the railroaders who took with them invaluable institutional knowledge?!?! In all my reading of Newswire comment lines I have never read one that went so far off-topic as this one. And right from the beginning!!! The above-mentioned officers and a Board Chair dynamited the railroad in October 2021 with the employee furloughs and eq storage and now they are doing it again. Because Gardner, Coscia & Co don’t want growth. All they want is the NEC (which equals for them Nothing Else Counts) and whatever trains they can get the states to fund per the PRIIA 209. Let’s pillory the utterly clueless SecTrans Pete Buttigieg whose sleepwalked through the October 2021 “massacre” and will, I suspect, sleepwalk through Version 2.0. Let’s pillory the new FRA Administrator Amit Bose who traveled DC-Chicago to give a rah-rah talk on all the new trains the IIJA will bring to the Chicago hub but couldn’t be bothered to ride Amtrak to get there and get back.

    1. Mark said, “What the hell does “DARPA Fauci” have to do with Amtrak train-offs like discontinuing the NY-FL train with the highest ridership of the two that run the route?”

      What it has to do with is that Amtrak is imply using the pandemic as an excuse to reduce long-distance service. In fact, in my line of business, I have seen over and over and over again where people use COVID as an excuse to avoid doing a lot of things. They won’t go do work and when they do, they don’t do their jobs. When chided for this or called on the carpet for it, they blame the pandemic.

      What to do? I have no idea. I don’t know anymore than the next guy what to do about it.

      Fred M. Cain

  12. While many hospitals are seeing large numbers of patients coming in with Covid-19, and unvaccinated are the biggest group. you have to spout the political BS. Please show some intelligence. Stores are facing shortages of workers, as are many businesses.
    I am an 86 yr old railfan living in a retirement facility where we have many staff members off work due to Covid-19 infections, fellow residents and I are fully vaccinated. Like a few other residents, Tuesday, I tested positive on a rapid test and am quarantining in my apt. My symptom is a cough and some mild congestion. No fever, aches or other issues. Viruses mutate and with facts being ignored and deliberate falsehoods being spued by Fox News and “social” media, an unvaccinated population breeds a reservoir of hosts for mutations to grow in and spread. This will, hopefully, pass and some will not survive but I hope you and others should do all to minimize the false information and do all you can to help by getting vaccinated.

  13. Did anybody else notice something about DARPA, Fauci, a Major Murphy, foreknowledge of effective medicines—something like that—or was that just a dream?

    We need a president who will just make the passenger trains RUN, period. Defund Amtrak later.

    1. Don’t get me started on Fauci, who is both a quack and a fraud. The problem bigger than Fauci is that the country has been handed over to Fauci by the likes of Biden.

    2. Dr. Fauci has saved many lives, literally, as part of his profession going back to when he was a resident doctor and later a key medical researcher. He was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom for crying out loud, and by a *Republican* president.

      I’m not sure I believe Amtrak’s reasons for the cutbacks. Omicron is peaking now, but Amtrak isn’t starting to cut back until 10 days from now? And keep the cuts for two months?

    3. I don’t know what Fauci did before COVID. Since COVID he’s bungled everything with the same frequency he gets out of bed.

    4. Charles Landey’s admission that “I don’t know what Fauci did before COVID.” says it all. Charles, thanks for conforming that you have no idea what you are talking about.

    5. Ed,

      Do you suppose this is just another back-door way to cut the long-distance trains?

      I was planning a round trip from Elkhart, IN to Flagstaff in March. This might ruin my plans completely. They are gonna lose more revenue through this action than money they will save. Spend a dollar to save a dime.

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