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Amtrak Emerges From Covid Cuts With Daily Service And Traditional Dining Service

Amtrak will restore traditional dining car service on six western routes and the Auto Train on June 23. In addition, the railroad has restored daily service for its East Coast long distance trains on June 7, 2021. One East Coast train, the Capitol Limited between Washington, DC and Chicago had resumed daily service a week earlier on May 31.

Previously, long distance trains on the East Coast had run three days per week as part of the pandemic-related schedule reductions, which started in 2020. During the period of reduced service Amtrak upgraded air filtration in passenger cars, with a complete fresh air exchange every four to five minutes. Amtrak staff is also providing enhanced cleaning services on train cars. However, the wearing of face coverings is still required in trains and stations. An Amtrak spokesperson did say that the railroad is no longer limiting capacity. However, the reservations system now lists the percentage of seats sold so that customers can choose trains that are less crowded.

Traditional Dining

The change to traditional dining car service on western routes starting June 23 means that passengers will have chef-prepared meals available in dining cars. Previously, food service was limited by the pandemic so that all meals were prepared in advance and only heated on board. This was an item of contention with passengers. Dining cars in the east will continue with the limited selection of advance prepared meals, however the Amtrak spokesperson did say that more food service announcements would be coming soon.

“Amtrak is making many important investments to improve customer satisfaction, including restoring and reimagining our popular onboard dining experience with a service our customers will enjoy and our employees will be proud to offer,” said Robert Jordan, Vice President Customer Service Stations & Onboard. “As the summer travel season approaches and service on our long distance routes returns to pre-pandemic schedules, customers can continue to feel comfortable traveling with essential Amtrak health and safety protocols remaining in place.”

Improved Service

In addition to food prepared on board, the restored dining car service will include glassware, cutlery, white linen tablecloths and later, ceramic dishes. The traditional dining service is included with Amtrak’s sleeping car service, but is available for all passengers. In addition, Amtrak’s café service menus are being upgraded during the summer.

In another boost for Amtrak’s future, the Federal Railroad Administration announced last week that it and the Federal Transit Administration have issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Hudson River Tunnel project. This is a crucial step in building an additional tunnel on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The existing tunnel will be upgraded and storm damage from Hurricane Sandy will be repaired.

Completing the Hudson River Tunnel, along with other projects including a new rail bridge between Washington, DC and Virginia, and a new rail tunnel in Baltimore, Maryland, are important parts of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposals currently being considered in the US Senate.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

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