Amtrak's Texas Eagle, cut back to operating only five days a week because of crew shortages, will return to daily service on March 28th along with four other national network trains. Other routes around the country will continue to only offer train service five days a week through May.
The national passenger rail carrier is slowly restoring daily service on trains it cut back in January because of staffing shortages brought on by Covid. Five long-distance trains are being restored to daily service including the Texas Eagle, which operates between San Antonio, DFW, East Texas and Chicago. Sunset Limited service, which parallels the I-10 corridor in South Texas and serves Houston and San Antonio, continues on its normal tri-weekly schedule. The ODOT/TxDOT partnered Heartland Flyer train between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City has continued to run daily throughout the pandemic.
"Covid-related cutbacks would make it extremely hard to “turn the lights back on” when it was time to do so,' according to Rail Passengers Association President Jim Mathews. "And here we are, a few months after Congress passed passenger-rail funding of the likes we haven’t seen in many generations, and eager passengers can’t even take a basic daily service in most parts of the country. Humpty Dumpty is standing up on his own feet now, but he’s still broken."
Amtrak's response was “we continue to work on further frequency additions for the coming months as staffing and other resources allow.” Amtrak is not alone in having a very difficult time hiring enough staff. The entire transportation industry seems to be hard pressed in finding personnel to fill positions.
Spring schedule overview:
On long distance routes, the following service will be offered beginning March 28:
3 departures/week: Cardinal, Sunset Limited (normal service) 5 departures/week: California Zephyr, City of New Orleans, Crescent, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Lake Shore Limited
Daily service: Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Palmetto, Silver Star
Silver Meteor: Interim service continues to be provided by daily service offered on Silver Star, Palmetto, Carolinian and Northeast Regional
On corridor services, the following routes will offer increased frequencies beginning March 28:
Empire Service: 9 departures/weekday between New York City and Albany Hiawatha: 7 departures/weekday All other corridor routes, including Acela and Northeast Regional, will maintain current frequencies of daily service
The new schedules are now available in all booking channels including Amtrak.com and the Amtrak app—and can be previewed at Amtrak.com/schedules.