Amtrak Extends Pets Aboard Program

Amtrak’s experiment of allowing pets aboard select trains is being extended on Aug. 11 to the Chicago-Carbondale, Ill., Saluki and Illini.

Trips must originate from a station where an Amtrak ticket office is open. The pets and a customer-supplied carrier must weigh no more than 20 pounds, a flat fee of $25 will be charged for each dog or cat, no more than four pets can be reserved per train, and reservations must be made at a staffed station or with a 800-USA-RAIL agent.

Staffed stations on the route include Chicago, Homewood, Champaign-Urbana, and Carbondale. The Homewood ticket office is only open in the afternoon so passengers can only use southbound train No. 393 and evening train No. 392 (which stops only to discharge passengers).

Passengers with pets are only allowed to ride in one designated car and can’t bring them to the café or remove them from the carrier. They must stay with their animal at all times. The pilot program began in May on the Chicago-Quincy, Ill., Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr.

Amtrak said multi-ride tickets cannot because passengers must pay separately for a reserved seat if they want to bring a pet along. Fewer than 20 dogs or cats have traveled since the program began.

Amtrak has yet to establish rules for carrying pets as checked baggage on trains with baggage cars, part of the yet-to-be-passed “Pets on Trains” legislation originated by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. Passengers with pets cannot travel on the City of New Orleans, Southwest Chief, or California Zephyr, which share the routes of the trains in the pet program.

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