With travellers being encouraged to travel by alternate modes of transport these days than flying, railroad service Amtrak is launching a series of fare updates. They come with rules, and some of these are not unlike those operated by budget airlines.
Amtrak is offering deeply discounted tickets and reduced fares from 1 March to cities including Orlando, Tampa and South Florida. The rail company says that in order to make these lowered fares feasible, it is implementing more restrictions on tickets. It's "saver" fares will be the most discounted ones, but they are offered with the most restrictions, including no changes, upgrades or cancellations 24 hours after purchase. Previously, travellers were only required to pay the difference in fare if changing trains.
"Value" fares are Amtrak's standard fares and they are offered with some restrictions. On that basis, a fee may apply for cancellations or changes made within 14 days of departure. The change fee will not apply if the customer is adding to an existing reservation booked prior to 1 March, or upgrading on the same train and day as the original reservation.
The third fares are "flexible" and these are the ones with the most flexibility built-in, including the ability to make no-fee changes and receive a full refund up to the moment of departure. The company says that all fares include downtown-to-downtown service, no middle seat, ample legroom and generous baggage policies.
Roger Harris, Amtrak's chief marketing and revenue officer, rejected the idea that the new rules are similar to airline policies. "There are lessons to be learned from the airlines, but I don't think we should ever be an airline or like an airline," he said in an interview with the Washington Post. "We're trying to get people out of cars and out of less-carbon-efficient forms of transportation onto trains. And one of the ways we do that is to make fares more affordable for new segments of the population."
For further information on Amtrak, please see its website here.