By Alison Fox
Updated March 23, 2020

Amtrak is nixing its signature Acela Express trains as it significantly cuts down on service amid the coronavirus pandemic, a company spokeswoman confirmed to Travel + Leisure on Monday.   

The change comes after Amtrak announced they'd be waiving change and cancellation fees for reservations made before April 30, and implementing new protocol to clean their cars.

“While Amtrak continues to operate across the nation, we have adjusted some services due to significantly reduced demand in key markets,” she told T+L. 

As part of the changes in service, Amtrak will only run regional trains in the Northeast Corridor — and even those will run at 40 percent of normal service levels, according to information shared with T+L. Amtrak has also cancelled service on several lines, including Pennsylvanian trains between New York and Pittsburgh and the Pere Marquette between Chicago and Grand Rapids.

As of Monday, there were more than 41,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracking of the virus. Much of that was concentrated in New York, which recorded more than 20,000 positive cases, according to the state’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

To accommodate customers who want to change their travel plans, Amtrak is waiving change fees for all reservations booked up until April 30, 2020, as well as all tickets purchased by that date. While there won’t be a change fee, Amtrak says you may have to pay the difference in the fare if the new itinerary is more expensive than your original one.

For customers who want to cancel their reservations, Amtrak advises them to call 1-800-USA-RAIL.

In Amtrak's ongoing response to the virus, they have ha increased the frequency of cleaning on trains and in stations to multiple times each day and, in some cases, hourly. The use of disinfectants used to wipe down things like handrails, doorknobs, and restrooms have been expanded, and antibacterial products (like sanitizers and wipes) have been placed throughout stations and train cars.

They hav also increased its stock of things like gloves and bathroom soap. And to make sure riders know the best steps to take, the company has placed posters and is playing instructional videos about how to reduce the risk of getting sick.

While traveling can increase your chances of contracting the coronavirus simply by being around other people, there are simple practices you can take to reduce your risk. Experts say washing your hands regularly and not touching your nose or mouth are great steps. Travelers can also wipe down commonly touched surfaces with their own antibacterial wipes and move away from people who are coughing or sneezing.

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