The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on rail transportation, resulting in a swathe of suspensions and reductions. US national passenger railroad service, Amtrak, has now outlined its future plans for when trains start running on a full schedule again.

The southbound Capitol Limited passing the depot at Point of Rocks, Md
The southbound Capitol Limited passing the depot at Point of Rocks in Maryland © Amtrak

Amtrak has had to cut back on its service, and the maximum capacity of trains has been halved due to social distancing practices. Its ridership has dropped 95%, which has presented an enormous challenge to the company. Officials have outlined some of the company's future plans for its service once all of its trains start running again, aiming to give passengers confidence in their future journeys.

Amtrak's Auto Train travelling on a viaduct
Amtrak is examining how it can accelerate less contact and easier use for passengers © Amtrak

It is working on technology to examine how it can accelerate what it describes as "less contact and easier use" for its passengers. According to Amtrak chairman, Tony Coscia, the company will be relying more on its text messaging system to provide passengers with boarding information, and plans to use its app for tickets and passenger information. This will reduce the number of people who need help finding where they need to go, so that travellers don't have to spend more time walking around the station than necessary.

Empire Service train approaches the Anthony's Nose tunnel near the Bear Mountain Bridge in Cortlandt, New York
The Empire Service train approaches the Anthony's Nose tunnel near the Bear Mountain Bridge in New York © Amtrak

It also aims to reduce contact by allowing passengers to order on-board refreshments from the food car through the app or in advance, which they can then collect during the journey. To ease people's fears, the increased cleaning routine will continue, and the company aims to provide new, more modern kiosks at stations.

The Coast Starlight train travels along the California coastline
The Coast Starlight travels along the California coastline © Amtrak

For further information on Amtrak, please see its website here.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

You might also like:

10 of the world's most amazing train journeys

The Canary Islands explores planning scenarios to slowly re-open to visitors

8 changes we can expect when flying after COVID-19

Explore related stories

Getting around Belgium is easy with our guide to its trains, trams, bikes and roads.

Destination Practicalities

Everything you need to know about getting around Belgium

Jun 12, 2024 • 6 min read