Once again, for the 43rd time, here we are on May Day, the anniversary of the official day of Amtrak operations beginning on May 1, 1971. It was the day most of the still-operating passenger trains in the country disappeared, and the freight railroads breathed a sigh of relief because the heavy hand of the ICC was no longer upon them forcing them to run trains they didn’t want to run “in the public interest.”
The almost exclusively all-male railroad management cadre of the day, many of them struggling to save their own freight operations from bankruptcy in a heavy regulatory environment, were happy to be rid of the cost of passenger stations, a fleet of cars and locomotives which were reaching what everybody thought was the end of their useful life (sadly, this was especially true of equipment built by Pullman Standard, which used a different assembly process and materials than its wiser competitor, Budd), and all of the expensive employees it took to run passenger trains. They could cascade many of their unwanted employees onto Amtrak’s employee roster (of particular note, the former Pennsylvania Railroad employees in Philadelphia who were sure they could run passenger trains better than anyone else), and, allegedly, finally do what they thought railroads should only do, turn themselves into corporate conglomerates (remember the various “Industries” titles tacked onto the end of railroad names?) focusing on moving products, not people, and buying and managing other businesses they didn’t know how to run.
Cat and dog owners who travel by train may soon be able to bring their furry friends along.
Amtrak has announced a six-month “Carry-On Pet Pilot Program” launching in Chicago May 5 in which pets will board with people on designated train cars. If successful, it will be rolled out nationwide.
Service animals currently ride in the passenger cabin free of charge. But other than that, Amtrak has had a strict “Animals Not Allowed” policy.
The fee will be $25 for dogs and cats (no other animal is allowed). They must be less than 20 pounds and stay in carriers under your seat—similar to how pets travel on planes. They must be at least eight weeks old, odorless, harmless, and not disruptive. They must remain in the carrier at all times. See more rules on amtrak.com.