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Amtrak Restores Full Service Schedule in Oregon & Washington

Amtrak resumed its normal train schedule in Oregon Monday after more than a year of reduced service due to COVID-19. 

It’s back to round trip service between Eugene and Portland and daily Coast Starlight trains after having cut back to thrice weekly.

Amtrak President Stephen Gardner said the pandemic reduced their business by 97 percent. Gardner credited Oregon’s Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee for championing rail.

“We did have to furlough over 1,200 folks as a result of some of the challenges that we faced last year,” Gardner said. “The Congressman’s actions have allowed us to bring those folks back including 29 employees that were furloughed in Oregon are already back on the job.”

Representative DeFazio cheered the resumption of full train service. He was at the Eugene Depot to see the train depart.

“I’m pleased to have put provisions in the American Rescue Plan $1.7 billion for Amtrak with the mandate, but with enough money to do it, that they restore all their long-distance service.” DeFazio said. “For us, critically, it’s this line, the Coast Starlight, but out of Portland we have the Empire Builder and other lines that are critical to other parts of the country.”

The Springfield Democrat said he expects train ridership to increase again as COVID becomes less of a factor and more people are vaccinated against the virus.

Ridership through Oregon was at an all time high of more than 800,000 in 2019.

DeFazio is pushing for faster rail service between Eugene and Portland in his infrastructure proposal that’s making its way through Congress.

Oregon 4th District Representative joined Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis and Amtrak President Stephen Gardner at the Eugene Depot Monday.

Copyright 2021 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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