Dogs Now Allowed To Come Onboard Amtrak Trains

Amtrak is on the right track! The national rail company now allows small pets on the train – but it’s only for a limited time.


Wow, commuter giant Amtrak sure scored big with pet parents following their recent announcement that fur-kids can now travel alongside mom and dad on their Northeast regional routes.


You’ll recall that earlier this year House Representative Jeff Denham was trying to pass a bill that would ensure our little guys weren’t treated like cargo but allowed to sit alongside their owner during rail travel. Fast forward several months and nadda. Legislation was dragging out and quite frankly, pet parents weren’t seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.


Related: Law Allowing Dogs On Amtrak Trains Is On Track


That’s when Amtrak decided to show their passengers they were on the right track when it comes to understanding their needs. How great is it to have a service provider voluntarily do right by their customers rather than be legislated? Well, at least for the short term… and there are restrictions.


What this means to travellers?


First off, it’s a pilot that started October 12 and runs through to February 16, 2016. Perfect timing because this means your fur kids can travel with you over the holidays!


Related: Top 10 Dog Carriers For Fashionable Trekkers


Secondly, it’s restricted to pets weighing 20 pounds or less, and on trips up to seven hours.


Thirdly, because it’s a pilot program, it’s initially only being offered on two of their northeastern lines. Pets are allowed on trains from Boston to New York, Washington D.C. and Lynchburg, Newport News and Norfolk in Virginia on the Northeast Regional service, and between Boston and Brunswick, Maine on Amtrak’s Down-easter route.


As with any travel, pets must be in a carrier and only one per rider. There is a small fee ($25 per) and your furry companion must be at least eight weeks old vaccinated and not require attention during travel. You will need to check in at the station 30 minutes prior to departure to prove you’ve met the above criterion.


Alas, our little guys are not permitted in business class, cafe cars or other food service cars. Baby steps, right?


According to Amtrak spokesperson Chelsea Kopta, the decision to go it alone rather than wait for legislation follows a similar pilot launched in Illinois back in 2014. During that time more than 200 animals accompanied their pet parent without a single complaint or incident.


Which might explain why Metra Trains in Chicago is jumping on board? A new pilot running October 10 through January 31, 2016 will allow pets in carriers to accompany their owners when travelling on their local routes with the program being re-evaluated at that time.


I’m thinking this announcement makes choo-choosing the mode of travel this holiday season a lot easier for pet parents!

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

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