Amtrak reducing train frequency due to spread of COVID-19 Omicron variant

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Amtrak Train 29 at 75 mph on CSX’s Burnswich Line in Southern division speeding through Garret Park, Maryland.

Amtrak is joining some other passenger carriers and transit agencies in reducing service because of the spike in the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

According to the New York Times, the service reductions will be temporary, and service will be reduced only on select trains. The key problem is staffing shortages resulting from many Amtrak employees who have contracted the Omicron variant.

Amtrak will reduce service on Northeast Regional routes, suspending 8% of weekly departures between Jan. 24 through March 27. Amtrak will also reduce some long-distance service during the same period.

According to Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said “These COVID-related absences, when combined with the general skilled work force shortage Amtrak and other transportation companies are facing, have reduced our ability to consistently deliver our current schedules and impacted the pace of hiring and training efforts.”

Amtrak is trying to hire and train additional employees to help mitigate the staffing problems. The success of these efforts, along with the course taken by the Omicron variant over the next few months, will determine if Amtrak will lift the service suspensions, keep them in place past the March 27 deadline, or extend the suspensions.

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