Starting in October, Amtrak will reduce all daily long-distance, overnight train service to tri-weekly service. The company is stating that these reductions are due to lower ridership because of COVID-19 and that resumption of daily service will be reviewed in the early months of 2021.
The service reductions will be rolled out throughout October and are expected to remain in place until further notice. Many advocates are calling for elected officials to review the plans Amtrak created for these reductions as many small towns and rural areas will drastically feel the service reductions. Additionally, advocates question the opportunity these routes will have to recover with reduced service in place. Without consistent service options, operational costs are expected to rise, and may jeopardize the operation of Amtrak as a whole system.
In the mid-1990s, Amtrak also reduced these same routes, and eliminated service on a select few routes as well. Those eliminated routes such as Seattle to Denver, Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, and Chicago to New York City via Pittsburgh, have never returned. The service reductions in the 90s were proposed as a way to reduce the operating costs of Amtrak, but instead, ending up costing the railroad more in the long run. Amtrak released a five-page document outlining the requirements for service restoration in 2021.
Over the past few months, the most drastic downturn in ridership has come from Amtrak routes serving major metropolitan areas, whereas the overnight, long-distance trains have seen better ridership than the short haul routes. While the long-distance routes haven’t always been the bread and butter for Amtrak, they do serve a purpose for the destinations that they serve.
All long-distance, overnight routes, with the exception of the Auto Train (Washington, DC-Orlando-area) will convert from daily service to tri-weekly service. The new schedule is designed to retain as many customer connecting opportunities as possible. To preserve east-west and west-east connections, the long-distance hub in Chicago will offer arrivals and departures primarily on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On average, more than 75% of connecting market opportunities will remain available on dates when tri-weekly service is offered.
Effective Week of October 5, 2020
Train #5 (Westbound) departs Chicago: Monday/Wednesday/Saturday
Train #6 (Eastbound) departs Emeryville, CA: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #29 (Westbound) departs Washington, DC: Wednesday/Friday/Sunday
Train #30 (Eastbound) departs Chicago: Monday/Thursday/Saturday
City of New Orleans
Train #58 (Northbound) departs New Orleans: Wednesday/Friday/Sunday
Train #59 (Southbound) departs Chicago: Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #19 (Southbound) departs New York: Tuesday/Friday/Sunday
Train #20 (Northbound) departs New Orleans: Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday
Effective Week of October 12, 2020
Train #11 (Southbound) departs Seattle: Monday/Wednesday/Saturday
Train #14 (Northbound) departs Los Angeles: Monday/Wednesday/Friday
Lake Shore Limited
Train #48 (Eastbound) departs Chicago Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #448 (Eastbound) departs Chicago: Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #49 (Westbound) departs New York: Wednesday/Friday/Sunday
Train #449 (Westbound) departs Boston: Wednesday/Friday/Sunday
Train #3 (Westbound) departs Chicago: Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #4 (Eastbound) departs Los Angeles: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #21 (Southbound) departs Chicago: Tuesday/Friday/Sunday
Train #22 (Northbound) departs San Antonio: Tuesday/Friday/Sunday
Effective Week of October 19, 2020
Train #7 (Westbound) departs Chicago Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #27 (Westbound) departs Chicago: Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #8 (Eastbound): departs Seattle: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #28 (Eastbound) departs Portland, OR: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #89 (Southbound) departs New York: Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Train #90 (Northbound) departs Savannah: Wednesday/Friday/Sunday
Visit Amtrak.com for specific route, schedule, and fare information.