Amtrak restores long-distance service on routes following COVID cutbacks

SEATTLE — In another hopeful sign that the travel industry is bouncing back after pandemic-induced lows last year, Amtrak says it will restore daily service on 12 long-distance routes across the country, including two that run through Seattle.

Starting Monday, both the Empire Builder – Chicago to Seattle/Portland – and Coast Starlight – Seattle to Los Angeles – routes will resume daily service, giving passengers on the West Coast more travel options, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

The routes had previously only been operating three times a week due to low ridership during the pandemic.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, who helped secure billions in COVID relief funding for Amtrak as chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, hailed the news.

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“For 50 years, Amtrak has been connecting us to our destinations,” the Washington Democrat said in written statement. “We need to restore services cut during the pandemic, and we look forward to another 50 years of Amtrak.”

The Amtrak Cascades route will also add a second round trip between Seattle and Eugene, Oregon, starting Monday and a third round trip on the Seattle to Portland, Oregon, segment will also be added.

Service to stations north of Seattle – Everett, Mount Vernon, and Bellingham – remains suspended. Trips to British Columbia on the Cascade line have also not been restored due to the ongoing border closure. Following COVID-19 health protocols set by the state as part of its reopening plan, capacity for train cars has been set to 50%.

The service restoration will also bring back 1,200 furloughed employees.

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