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Amtrak to cut back on its longer routes, including two through Cleveland, due to COVID-19

The Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited will now run only three days per week.

OMAHA, Neb. — Amtrak has announced plans to cut service later this year on most of its long-distance routes nationwide to three times a week instead of the current daily service because ridership has fallen significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said Wednesday that the cuts will take effect Oct. 1 and remain in place until at least the summer of 2021, but daily service could be restored if demand improves along its long-distance routes.

Among the routes that will be cut down to three days a week are the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited, both of which run through Cleveland. 

California Zephyr, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Palmetto, Southwest Chief, and Texas Eagle are also slated to be reduced from daily to three days per week. According to Amtrak, Auto Train, which runs from the Washington, D.C., suburbs to the Orlando, Florida, area, is the only long-distance route that will continue to operate daily.

Jim Mathews, president and chief executive of the Rail Passengers Association advocacy group, said he thinks the cuts are short-sighted and will hurt long-term demand for these routes.

“The long-distance services declined the least among Amtrak’s three business lines during the coronavirus-induced slowdown, and its services remain essential to the hundreds of small communities across the United States with fewer options than Philadelphia or Boston or New York City,” Mathews said.

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