As travel restrictions are lifted, Americans are looking to hit the road again, and Amtrak is ready to provide a safe environment to protect the experience.© photo courtesy of Amtrak train, dome car, amtrak
Amtrak has operated as an essential service throughout the coronavirus outbreak despite some routes being reduced or suspended, but an increase in demand in the coming weeks is expected to mean additional services.
The changes start as soon as customers book their travel, as Amtrak is waiving all change and cancellation fees for reservations made by August 31. The company also announced it would limit ticket sales to allow for physical distancing while traveling.
At Amtrak stations, travelers will notice enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing guidelines, mandatory face coverings for all employees and customers, and passengers being asked to arrive only 30 minutes before departure.
“Now more than ever, we stand ready to play a critical role as our nation recovers,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to offer vital transportation services in a way that prioritizes employee and customer safety and well-being.”
Rail riders should be ready for a contact-free travel experience, with Amtrak now only accepting cashless payments, encouraging boarding with eTickets and sending gate and track information via the company’s mobile app.
Once on board the train, passengers will be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, required to wear facial coverings while on trains or thruway buses and asked to follow the conductors’ instructions on where and when they can disembark to minimize crowding.
For travelers looking for a bite to eat, Amtrak’s cafe service will be available as carryout only and the company is temporarily offering flexible dining service in the dining or lounge car on all long-distance routes.
For added protection, protective plastic barriers are being installed at cafe countertops.
By Donald wood for Travel Pulse
Note: I posted this article because many people are having second thoughts about airplane travel. 3 across seating, no masks, and still the hassle of just getting through security and onto the aircraft. Although train travel would be ideal for short distances, say from Chicago to St. Louis (5 hours), long-distance travel via Amtrak may not work for you. It’s about a 36 hour train trip from Chicago to L.A., but less than 4 hours by plane. That’s the ugly truth about long-distance travel by train. An option is a sleeping berth, but it’s still 36 hours ! In terms of scenic travel, Amtrak is fantastic. Look into Amtrak’s California Surfliner route that runs from San Diego to San Juan Capistrano. It parallels the Pacific Ocean and stops at cities like L.A., Ventura, and Santa Barbara.