Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19 pandemic’

Adirondack to Return in 2023

November 29, 2022

Amtrak recently said it would resume operating the New York-Montreal Adirondack in 2023 but did not give a date.

The service, which is funded by the State of New York, has been suspended March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. At the time, the border between the United States and Canada was closed.

It has since reopened and Amtrak service to Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia has resumed.

A New York state legislator told local news media that Amtrak is working to get its crews re-qualified to operate in Canada.

NY Prodding Amtrak on Return of Adirondack

July 27, 2022

Members of the New York congressional delegation have asked Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner to explain why the New York-Montreal Adirondack has yet to return to service after being suspended in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic .

Letters to Gardner raising the issue have been signed by the state’s two U.S. senators and a congresswoman who represents the area served by the train.

Trains magazine in a report that neither Amtrak nor the New York Department of Transportation would comment on the issue

The letters note that host railroad Canadian National has said it would resume allowing the train as soon as Amtrak is ready to run it.

One of the letters also said Amtrak officials had indicated earlier that “staffing was no longer the primary issue for returning service to the rail line, but operational issues needed to be addressed with our Canadian partners.”

The letters are seeking to prod Amtrak into issuing a timeline for the resumption of the Adirondack.

Amtrak recently restored the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and said it will restore the Seattle-Vancouver, British Columbia, Cascades this fall.

NYDOT in a July 18 statement said it has asked Amtrak “resume Adirondack service as soon as practicable.”

Amtrak later issued a statement saying it is “actively engaged with our congressional delegations regarding the return of Adirondack service and continue to work with the appropriate host railroads’ operation agreements.”

More information is available at

Vancouver Service Not Seen Before December

May 16, 2022

Restoration of Amtrak service between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, is not expected to occur before December.

That triggered protests from state department of transportation officials in Washington state and Oregon.

The service was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak told the state DOTs that the passenger carrier doesn’t have enough conductors, onboard service staff, and mechanics to operate the trains.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Transportation issued a joint statement saying “lack of support for the Amtrak Cascades service cannot continue” for seven months or more.

The statement described that as unacceptable. The agencies want at least a partial restoration of service before December.

Amtrak Drops Face Mask Requirement

April 18, 2022

Amtrak has dropped its facial mask requirement for passengers and employees.

The passenger carrier acted after a federal judge in Florida set aside the mask mandate that had applied to all modes of public transportation.

The Biden administration said following the ruling by Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle that it would not enforce the mask mandate and was still considering whether to appeal the judge’s decision.

An Amtrak official said passengers and employees can still choose to wear a facial mask.

The mask mandate dates to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020 and later became a federal rule that has been extended several times.

USA Today reported that many airlines, including United, Southwest, Delta and American, also have dropped the facial mask rule.

The federal facial mask mandate had been set to expire on Monday but the Centers for Disease Control wanted it extended through May 3 to provide more time to study the BA2 omicron variant of COVID-19.

The Florida judge ruled that extending the mask mandate exceeded the CDC’s authority and the federal agency failed to justify the order or follow proper rule making procedures.

VIA to Restore Suspended Services

April 18, 2022

VIA Rail Canada plans to restore most suspended service by June.

The passenger carrier had suspended many services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week VIA said operations of the Canadian between Toronto and Vancouver would expand by two weekly roundtrips.

Other restorations include three weekly round trips for Ocean (Montreal-Halifax); three weekly round trips for trains connecting Jasper, Alberta, and Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

Service between Sudbury and White River, Ontario, will be restored in July .

Other restorations include Montreal and Senneterre, Quebec; and Montreal and Jonquière, Quebec. Both routes will be restored in late June.

VIA also plans to add additional trains in the Quebec City-Windsor, Ontario, corridor.

Vancouver Thruway Service Curtailed

March 13, 2022

Amtrak Thruway bus service to Vancouver, British Columbia, has been reduced through April 30.

A service advisory attributed the curtailment to the COVID-19 pandemic and its highly active Omicron variant.

The service is provided by Cantrail between Seattle and Vancouver and for now will be limited to two daily roundtrips on Buses 8911 and 8909 southbound, and 8906 and 8948 northbound.

Buses 8907 and 8900 are suspended through March 31 while Buses 8957 and 8914 are suspended through April 30.

Amtrak to Reduce Service by 8%

January 15, 2022

The Lake Shore Limited, seen here near North East, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 9, 2015, will be operating five days a week starting Jan. 24.

Pandemic related staff shortages are prompting Amtrak to curtail service on most routes starting Jan. 24 for most routes and Jan. 18 on state-supported routes.

The service reductions, which Amtrak said will last through March 27, will affect 8 percent of its schedule. The passenger carrier indicated it might be able to restore service sooner on some routes depending on conditions.

In a statement, Amtrak said the service cuts were due to “staffing challenges resulting from Covid-19 pandemic and the highly active Omicron variant.”

Long distance train service frequency will fall to five days a week for the Southwest Chief, California Zephyr, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Texas Eagle, Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited, and City of New Orleans.

The Silver Meteor will be suspended entirely during the 10-week period, but there will be no service reductions for the Silver Star, Palmetto, Auto Train, Cardinal, and Sunset Limited.

Amtrak said capacity will increase as dictated by demand on the Silver Star and Palmetto to offset some of the service cuts being made to the Silver Meteor.

In corridor services, 8 percent of Northeast Regional weekly departures will be suspended while 6 percent of state-supported weekly departures will be suspended.

Trains magazine reported on its website Friday that already some trains have seen spot cancellations.

The Southwest Chief did not depart Los Angles on Jan. 9 or 12 and did not depart Chicago on Jan. 12 and 15. Some trips of the Coast Starlight also have been cancelled.

Specific cancellations have yet to be announced or posted in the Amtrak reservation system as of Friday afternoon.

Amtrak said in a statement it will contact affected passengers and offer to rebook them for travel on remaining frequencies on all routes.

On routes where there are multiple train frequencies Amtrak said it will seek to offer same-day travel alternatives.

Those unable to travel on other days will be offered a full refund of their fare.

The statement said Amtrak has seen a 25 percent drop in bookings due to the surge in COVID-19 cases coupled with seasonal declines in travel.

The statement also said Amtrak is hiring and training new employees to address staffing shortfalls resulting from last year’s furloughs and early retirements.

The Trains report quoted Amtrak sources as saying 97 percent of its employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but the workforce continues to be hit by COVID-19 infections and exposures.

The illness has affected not just on-board personnel but also backshop workers who maintain and get the trains ready for service.

VIA to Reduce Service Due to Pandemic

January 15, 2022

With cases of COVID-19 surging VIA Rail Canada has decided to temporarily reduce service in its corridors between Windsor, Ontario, and Quebec City, Quebec.

VIA said the affected routes include Montreal-Ottawa, Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa, Toronto-Kingston-Montreal, Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa, Toronto-London-Windsor and Toronto-London-Sarnia.

Business class seating has been suspended and business lounges are closed. VIA said it will gradually restore service during the spring.

In a statement, VIA said it will continue to offer “essential service” on all routes. The service reductions will take effect Jan. 19.

Amtrak Hit by Service Disruptions

January 4, 2022

Much like the airlines, Amtrak found itself canceling trains during the holidays due to workers being out sick and train scheduled being “reset” due to several weather hindering trains en route.

The cancellations affected long distance and corridor trains alike although most service disruptions were for a short duration.

Trains magazine reported on its website that passengers whose travel plans were interrupted were notified via text message or an email message.

Amtrak did not issue a general service advisory about the service cancellations but issued an internal notice to employees that the canceled trains were due to “staffing shortages caused by the pandemic,” the magazine said.

In the Midwest three long-distance trains did not depart on Dec. 31, including the City of New Orleans, Empire Builder and California Zephyr.

Also not departing that day was the Silver Meteor between New York and Miami. The Crescent had a few days when it didn’t depart New York or New Orleans.

In the east several trains were annulled for the period of Dec. 31 through Jan. 6. They included Northeast Regional trains 65-66-67.

Northeast Regional trains 136-143-146-157 were canceled between Dec. 31 to Jan. 2.

Capitol Corridor Service to Increase June 7

June 4, 2021

Amtrak service in California’s Capitol Corridor will increase on June 7.

San Jose-Sacramento service will increase from 16 to 22 trips daily, while Oakland-San Jose service will return to the pre-pandemic level of 14 daily trips.

Café Car service also will be reinstated although with a limited menu.

Capitol Corridor service was last increased in June of 2020 when some frequencies cut the previous March during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic were restored.

Some schedules were modified this past March to improve on–time performance and better service the existing travel patterns.