Some Amtrak Trains Are ‘Selling Out’

Although Amtrak trains continue to run with loads well under capacity, an analysis published on the Trains magazine website reported that some trains are selling out as ridership slowly begins to rise.

Of course Amtrak is only selling half the capacity of its coaches as a way to enforce social distancing and the sell outs or near sellouts have resulted in some high eye popping fares.

That included a coach fare of $260 from Chicago to Dallas, but $251 from Chicago to Pontiac, Illinois, a distance of 92 miles.

Yet a coach seat between Chicago and Normal, Illinois, a distance of 124 miles was available for a fare of $124.

Blame a yield management system that increases fares for segments with the heaviest ridership.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Trains that Amtrak consists changed little between April and May.

However, the consists of some trains have since expanded. The Lake Shore Limited has been reported to now be operating with four Amfleet coaches, two for the New York section and two for the Boston section.

That is double the number of coaches that had been carried.

The Capitol Limited has been reported to have expanded from four cars to five or six.

Trains passenger correspondent Bob Johnston rode Amtrak’s Texas Eagle recently between Chicago and Normal.

His report indicated that the bathrooms, coaches and Sightseer lounge cars were clean on both trains and although passengers wore masks while boarding the train about half removed them after settling into their seats.

Johnston wrote that most passengers wore their masks while walking through the train.

He also said some food items were out of stock in the café car, including all of the fresh deli sandwiches and cheeseburgers.

Few passengers ate their meals in the lounge car after purchasing food there.

A spot check conducted by Trains over a 15-day period found numerous instances in which coach seats were sold out or nearly sold out on some long distance trains.

The westbound Lake Shore Limited had no day-of-departure coach seats on 11 of 15 days out of New York when No. 48 operated with a single Amfleet II coach.

Some seats that were available were priced at twice the normal $112 fare.

The spot check determined that sleeping cars were rarely sold out during the 15-day period.

Amtrak has not yet increased fares for sleepers much above the usual summer rates.

Trains also reported that it has learned that Amtrak on May 29 operated a special train of 15 empty Amfleet II coaches from the Hialeah Maintenance Facility in Miami to Jacksonville, Florida, for storage.

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