Digest: Amtrak begins offering reserved seats in Acela business class

News Wire Digest for July 29: Norfolk Southern donates locomotive to Penn State-Altoona; first Montana county ratifies membership in passenger rail authority
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Amtrak Acelas meet in Elizabeth, N.J., in August 2019. Reserved seating in business class will be available on Acelas beginning on Monday.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Wednesday morning rail news:

Amtrak adds business-class reserved seating on Acela

Amtrak will offer reserved seating in business class on Acela trains beginning Monday, Aug. 3, expanding the seat-selection program that had previously been available only in first class. The feature also allows passengers a look at the overall occupancy rate of a train. As part of social distancing efforts, Amtrak is currently offering only window seats; aisle and rear-facing table seats will be blocked from sale. Customers traveling together may sit together but will have designated reserved seats in other rows. Station and contact-center agents are able to modify seat assignments, as are customers. Amtrak began offering reserved first-class seating on Acela in 2018 [see “Amtrak rolls out assigned first-class seating on some ‘Acela Express,’” Trains News Wire, May 31, 2018].

Norfolk Southern donates locomotive to university's rail engineering program
Norfolk Southern has donated an SD60I locomotive to Penn State University, Altoona, for use in the school’s Rail Transportation Engineering program. A Penn State article notes the locomotive, originally built for Conrail in 1995, will not be operational, but will be used to teach students about locomotive parts and design, and to understand the basics of controls in the locomotive cab. “The locomotive is to our RTE students as a cadaver is to medical students,” Bryan Schlake, assistant teaching professor in rail transportation engineering, said in the article. “Our students will get to really roll up their sleeves and learn the inner workings of a diesel electric locomotive. I don’t know of any university in the country that can offer this type of in-depth education in locomotive function and design.”

First Montana county approves membership in Big Sky rail authority
Gallatin County has become the first of 11 Montana counties to officially approve membership in the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority, the agency formed to pursue the return of Amtrak service to the state’s southern tier, the Missoula Current reports. Missoula County, which has led the effort to form the agency [see “California legislature may try to stop high speed rail contract,” News Wire Digest, June 8, 2020] will consider its resolution to join on Thursday.




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