June 17, 2020 / 1:26 AM / 20 days ago

Amtrak reducing service, offering buyout packages to employees

FILE PHOTO: Amtrak Police officers pass under caution tape while on patrol at Washington Union Station, following Mayor Muriel Bowser's state of emergency declaration due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Washington, U.S., April 16, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. passenger railroad service Amtrak, which has been reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, will run many of its long-distance routes less frequently and cut the frequency of trains in its busy Northeast Corridor, the rail operator said on Tuesday.

Amtrak also said it is looking to pare its workforce via a voluntary offer to employees, and expects the workforce could be reduced by up to 20%.

“Due to the long-term impact of COVID-19 on ridership, Amtrak has made the decision to operate with reduced capacity through FY21,” an Amtrak spokeswoman told Reuters in an emailed statement.

The company said that beginning Oct. 1, it plans to reduce most long-distance trains to three days per week instead of daily.

Amtrak said in May it needed a further $1.5 billion bailout and disclosed plans to cut its workforce by up to 20% in the coming budget year.

The company, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, in April received $1 billion in emergency funding from the U.S. Congress.

The passenger railroad service said it also plans to enter fiscal year 2021 with reduced train frequencies in the Northeast Corridor, which operates between Washington, D.C., and Boston and is the busiest in its network, and on its state-funded routes.

“We are planning 32% fewer frequencies on the NEC, 24% fewer for our state-supported service”, the spokeswoman told Reuters.

“Our goal is to restore daily service on these routes as demand warrants, potentially by the summer of 2021,” the statement said. 

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

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