Amtrak suspends nonstop Acela, waives change fees in response to coronavirus

Mar 7, 2020

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As demand for travel continues to ebb amid coronavirus fears, Amtrak is joining U.S. airlines in modifying its schedules and policies.

Beginning March 10, the railroad will suspend Acela nonstop service between New York and Washington, according to a statement.

The service began in September, and generally targets New York-based travelers with an early morning departure from Penn Station to Washington, and an evening return to New York as the only current nonstop options on the route. The suspension will last until May 26.

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In its announcement Friday, Amtrak also said it would be waiving change fees on new and existing reservations through April 30. And the railroad suggested it would likely cancel some other trains and reduce the number of cars on some services in response to slower ticket sales. It has not yet announced which other routes will be affected.

Related: Everything you need to know about traveling during the coronavirus outbreak.

The change waiver comes less than a week after Amtrak rolled out new, more restrictive ticketing policies. Beginning March 1, the railroad’s cheapest tickets became nonrefundable and unchangeable 24 hours after booking. Those restrictions seem to be temporarily suspended as part of the railroad’s coronavirus response. The waiver is also more flexible than any of those announced by U.S. airlines so far.

On Saturday,  governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency as the number of coronavirus cases in New York continues to rise. Amtrak mentioned, however, that there are no specific restrictions in place against rail travel or any of the destinations it serves.

Featured photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

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