American Rescue Plan Restores Full Amtrak Long-Distance Services

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Close to $2 billion in funding for Amtrak is among the elements in President “Amtrak Joe” Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan bill, approved by Congress on March 10, and which is expected to be signed into law by the 46th President shortly.

The $1.7 billion in Amtrak COVID-19 recovery funding will enable Amtrak to fully restore daily service on 12 long-distance routes, following pandemic-related schedule reductions in 2020. Amtrak said it “will sustain and restore operations and recall the more-than 1,200 furloughed employees through the remainder of FY21 and into FY22.  All destinations and scheduled departure/arrival times served by the long-distance network will be maintained … providing customers significantly more departures for the upcoming summer travel season.”

Additionally, Amtrak will continue to operate the Auto Train daily and the Cardinal and Sunset Limited trains tri-weekly, as it has been done historically. The new schedule has been updated on all Amtrak reservation systems, including Amtrak.com and the Amtrak app. 

Daily schedules will commence in May 2021 and be grouped into three phases:

“The schedule restoration is a critical part of Amtrak’s strategy for investing in long-distance service,” the company said.

Other components of this strategy include:

  • Debut of new Viewliner II sleeping cars on the Silver Service, the first addition to the Amtrak sleeper fleet in more than two decades.
  • Upgraded bedding, towels and linens in private rooms aboard the Auto Train, with additional routes rolling out starting in summer.
  • Fully-refreshed Amfleet II cars for Coach Class routes along the East Coast, including new seating cushions, carpets, curtains and LED reading lights.
  • Multi-year interior refresh program for Superliner and Viewliner I equipment, including new seating cushions, carpet and curtains, beginning to enter service this summer.
  • New Amtrak ALC-42 Siemens Charger diesel-electric locomotives with higher performance and lower emissions will begin to replace the current long-distance locomotive fleet this year.
  • Improved lounge experience for all private-room customers—including the debut of the Metropolitan Lounge in the Moynihan Train Hall at New York Penn Station. 
  • Enhancements to the Auto Train customer experience.

“Offering daily long-distance service represents a vital step in our road to recovery,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. “Recognizing the immense value of our employees, we’d like to thank Congress for enabling service restoration and helping us recall furloughed employees. We thank Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the many champions of Amtrak, on both sides of the aisle, who helped secure $1.7 billion in federal funding for Amtrak in the American Rescue Plan. This critical funding will benefit the entire Amtrak network, our state and commuter partners, customers and employees. With this support, we can restore daily long-distance service, bring back employees furloughed as a result of the pandemic and continue our progress on vital capital projects. We will work closely with Congress and the Biden Administration on next steps for funding to support Amtrak’s long-term growth. Funding options include expanding the Amtrak network through new corridor routes that will create thousands of new jobs, reducing our nation’s carbon footprint and helping the economy recover and flourish in the years ahead.”

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