Precautions must be taken on all trips, but experts say train travel is considered very safe right now. If you haven't traveled by train, you just might enjoy watching the scenery pass at a slower pace. The following information comes from a representative at Amtrak; however, most rail lines have adopted similar policies.
How Safe Is Train Travel?
Medical experts have looked at five modes of transportation- boats, planes, buses, trains and cars. Their conclusion was that private cars are safest, but trains are a close second. Many routes offer private rooms, so if your budget allows, this would make trains even safer because you would have a private restroom, shower, and a dedicated attendant.
What Is the Eating and Drinking Policy on Trains?
While it is a good idea to bring your own food on a train if possible, Amtrak has made adjustments to their service to promote safety among passengers, which includes plastic barriers and markers to promote physical distancing. Cafe cars are currently offering carryout service only, but passengers who have booked a private room have additional options.
What Are the Best Ways to Protect Yourself?
There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself while on a train, most importantly wearing a mask. Also, carry hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently during your trip, especially after visiting the cafe car or the restroom. If you don't already have a reserved seat, select your seat carefully. Try to find a spot in the least populated area of the car, and maintain as much physical distance from others as possible. Be sure to bring antibacterial wipes with you to clean common surfaces like tray tables and hand railings. The three most important factors are wearing a mask, the number of people around you, and how long you’re going to be with them.
What About Other Passengers Who Refuse to Wear Masks or Follow Safety Guidelines?
Some passengers don't get in a hurry to put their masks back on after eating, but Amtrak has a policy regarding those who refuse to comply. Their statement reads, “Amtrak reserves the right to remove a customer or ban them from future travel in the event of non-compliance with Amtrak’s face covering policy.” If you notice someone who has violated the policy, rather than approaching the person yourself, notify an employee, who will address the situation.
Should You Self-Quarantine After Traveling on a Train?
Medical experts say it depends on where your destination originates and ends. If you’re coming from a high-risk state, you may be required to provide a negative COVID test or to self-quarantine. Check the status of your destination for information about travel restrictions and what is currently open and closed. The boarding process for trains is one example of why trains can be considered safer. Unlike boarding a plane, where you are indoors and often around a lot of people, this is not as much the case with trains. A train is much safer because you board outdoors where there’s ventilation, and you can easily stand 10 to 20 feet away from people. Trains are at each station for just a few minutes, with just enough time for people to board.
What Kinds of Measures Has Amtrak Taken to Adjust to COVID-19?
Amtrak has implemented several measures into every part of the customer journey from the time of booking to the moment of arrival. Some of these enhanced measures include on-board filtration systems, as well as a capacity indicator next to each train that shows the number of seats that have been sold, allowing travelers to select the least crowded option. Amtrak also requires that all passengers and employees wear a face mask or covering while onboard and in stations.
In addition to being safe, train travel offers other advantages. Taking the train is a cost-effective way to travel, especially if you're going a relatively short distance. And unlike air travel, traveling by rail allows you to take as much luggage as you can carry without extra fees. You can easily store your baggage above your seat and in your compartment. Another big convenience is not having to arrive two hours early, wait in a long security line, take off your shoes for inspection, or ration out your liquids and gels. Welcome to the world of train travel. In most cases you can arrive 30 minutes ahead of time and walk straight to your platform.