Amtrak is temporarily reducing train service on several routes through March because of Covid-19 related staffing shortages.
About 8% of Northeast Regional weekly departures will be suspended between Jan. 24 and March 27, the railroad told Bloomberg Government on Friday. State-supported trips will be reduced by 6% from Jan. 18 to March 27, and several long-distance routes will also run less frequently.
Amtrak reports about 97% of its employees are fully vaccinated but several hundred staff are affected by Covid infections or exposures.
The Covid absences and a general shortage of workers “reduced our ability to consistently deliver our current schedules and impacted the pace of hiring and training efforts,” the railroad said in a statement. A recent Amtrak Office of Inspector General report found that the railroad’s human resources department doesn’t have adequate staff or managers to recruit and onboard new workers.
Amtrak said it doesn’t expect major effects on overall ridership from the service reductions because it is experiencing about 25% less demand due to Covid-19.
Officials previously warned of service cuts due to staff shortages from the vaccine mandate. Amtrak later revised its mandate and averted the planned cuts.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org