Shop Vacancies Driving Amtrak Service Cuts

The staff shortages that Amtrak cited when extending the suspension of some services beyond late March are most acute in the mechanical department, Trains magazine reported on its website.

Trains quoted Amtrak spokesman Marc Magilari as saying that as of the middle of February “vacancies in the mechanical department are acute.”

In late January, Amtrak reduced the frequency of operation of most long distance trains to five days a week with plans to restore those trains to daily operation starting March 28.

But only the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited, Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle, and the Seattle-Los Angeles Coast Starlight will resume daily operation on that date.

Some Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha service and New York City-Albany/Rensselaer, New York Empire Corridor frequencies also will be reinstated.

But Northeast corridor and some state-supported corridor services that were curtailed in late January also will remain sidelined.

Trains said Magliari indicated that having fewer shop workers means many locomotives and passenger cars that were idled in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic service cuts that were even more severe than those imposed this year have yet to return to service.

This has led to delays and in some instances cancellations at originating terminals when equipment malfunctions and spares are not available.

 “There is a direct connection between our staffing levels and sizing of our consists,” Magliari told Trains. “We’ve said it will be many months before we will have full availability of the active fleet and that remains the case, including our own staffing challenges and those of our suppliers.”

The Trains report suggested that management decisions made during previous two years have aggravated a situation in which Amtrak is struggling to hire replacements for workers who were given buy outs or furloughed.

In the meantime trains are operating with shorter than normal consists and Amtrak has declined to say if or when idled Superliner Sightseer lounges and transition sleepers will return to the Capitol Limited or Texas Eagle.

The article can be read at

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