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Amtrak will resume its Acela train service on a modified schedule by June 1 in response to an anticipated increase in demand just months after COVID-19 first hobbled operations.
The modified service will resume three weekday round trips for passenger travel between Washington and New York, Amtrak announced. Additionally, the Northeast Regional, which has been operating on a limited schedule, will now increase its service from eight to 10 round trips daily.
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"We are dedicated to doing everything possible to return service safely," said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn. "We want everyone to feel comfortable as they navigate this new normal."
Passengers exit a midday Acela train in Washington’s Union Station. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
The move marks the company's first step in returning the train to normal operations. In March, the company suspended the service due to decreased passenger demand created by lockdown orders meant to curb the spread of the virus.
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The Acela is one of the railroad's best-selling tickets. It provides a roundtrip between Washington and New York for $260 along the Northeast Corridor. In 2018, customers took more than 3.4 million Acela trips and generated nearly $606 million in ticket revenue.
Amtrak is projected to lose $700 million this year because shutdown orders caused ridership to drop by 95 percent, according to the Washington Post.
While some services were reduced or suspended, Amtrak continued to provide limited services across its network throughout the crisis.
In addition to the Acela and Northeast Regional services, Amtrak says trains will be restored to service "by monitoring demand, working with state partners and continuing to prioritize customer and employee safety," the company said.
However, strict safety measures and guidelines will be in place as trains increase passenger service.
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Starting next week, national railway service is requesting that all passengers wear coverings over their nose and mouth while in stations and on trains and thruway buses.
To further protect passengers and staff, the company is only accepting cashless payments, limiting books, and emphasizing social distancing through signage.
Tickets are currently for sale and can be found online or on the Amtrak app.