Exploring the USA by rail will get easier once again, as long-distance Amtrak routes begin to return to daily service after the COVID-19 pandemic caused schedule reductions in 2020. 

The first phase of the plan launched this week, with the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder and Texas Eagle returning to daily trips. This will be followed by the restoration of the Capitol Limited, City of New Orleans, Lake Shore Limited and Southwest Chief on May 31. The Crescent, Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star services will be restored in the third phase, on June 7.

Read more: 11 Amtrak routes with the most breathtaking views 

All destinations and scheduled departure/arrival times served by the long distance network will be maintained, and it will continue to operate the Auto Train daily and the Cardinal and Sunset Limited trains tri-weekly. 

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This is not the only welcome news for travelers who love Amtrak—on April 30, during the celebrations for Amtrak's 50th anniversary—US President Joe Biden pledged to ask for an $80-billion investment in rail as part of his infrastructure proposal. Having earned the nickname “Amtrak Joe” as a young senator for his frequent trips between Washington DC and his home in Delaware, the current president has been a long-time supporter of rail travel. 

Read more: How can I explore the US by Amtrak? 

Both federal law and Amtrak policy require all customers and employees to wear a mask at all times when on trains and in stations—regardless of vaccination status or the state or local laws. Amtrak is no longer limiting the capacity on trains, but offers real-time information of seats sold, and customers are able to change their ticket if the "capacity exceeds comfort levels". Find out more about the company's COVID-19 policies here

This article was originally published on March 12, 2021 and updated on May 26, 2021. 

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This article was first published June 2020 and updated May 2021

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