Amtrak is ready to restore its higher-speed Acela train service

May 8, 2020

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Amtrak is restoring its higher-speed Acela service between Boston and Washington starting June 1.

The railroad announced the move Friday, citing increased demand. The Acela service is Amtrak’s flagship product in the Northeast, but it had been suspended in late March amid slumping demand related to the coronavirus pandemic.

A schedule of three weekday round-trips will commence as localities begin to lift stay-at-home orders, and more people are slowly beginning to move around the country again.

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The national rail carrier also said in Friday’s announcement that it will increase Northeast Regional service to 10 round-trip trains from eight.

“We are dedicated to doing everything possible to return service safely,” Amtrak president and CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “We want everyone to feel comfortable as they navigate this new normal.”

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As Flynn suggested, the restoration of some service on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington is not exactly a return to the pre-coronavirus state of the railroad.

Amtrak will require passengers to wear face masks on trains and in stations for the foreseeable future, and is only accepting non-cash payments for the time being.

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Among other measures, the railroad will also only sell 50% of available coach, business- and Acela first-class tickets on its trains in order to facilitate onboard social distancing.

Amtrak suspended the Acela in late March and scaled back service on other routes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related drop in demand. Even with the trips being restored in Friday’s announcement, schedules remain dramatically reduced compared to normal.

Still, across the travel industry, demand seems to be slowly rebounding.

In earnings calls with their investors this week, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue both discussed green shoots of new bookings, and the Transportation Security Administration has reported traveler screenings at U.S. airports to be on the rise in recent weeks.

Featured photo by Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

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