Alabama’s only passenger train service, Amtrak, cuts long-distance rides with revenue down over 80%

Alabama News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amtrak announced that their long-distance schedules will be moving operation to tri-weekly.

This is due to the decrease in travel demand and will impact the Crescent Train, which runs through Birmingham and other Alabama cities.

The Crescent Train will move to tri-weekly operations starting Oct. 5. The train departing New York will leave on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. The southbound train departing from New Orleans will operate on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

Amtrak said the reason for the change is because funding for long-distance routes from the federal CARES Act expired on Sept. 30.

In his testimonial to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads, the President and CEO of Amtrak William J. Flynn said, “We performed well in fiscal year ’19 and fiscal ’20 was set to be another record year, but as the pandemic affected in the core of March, our ridership plummeted by 97%. In February we carried more than 80,000 daily passengers, but in April there were less than 4,000 passengers with corresponding impact on our revenues.”

Amtrak said they are seeking $4.9 billion in appropriation to continue current service levels and avoid furloughs.

Birmingham city councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who is also a member of the transportation committee, said this is a big change for the city.

“It’s the only passenger rail service we have in the state of Alabama at the moment so it’s very significant,” said O’Quinn. “I know there is a lot of passenger rail service that goes out in Intermodal Station downtown and a lot of people rely on it as an option to go to destinations like New Orleans or farther up the east coast as far as Washington D.C.”

Amtrak reports their ride and revenue is still down more than 80%.

For the full list of changes to the train schedules, click here.

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