How Amtrak Keeps Trains Running All Winter Long

How Amtrak Keeps Trains Running All Winter Long


At Amtrak, we’re working around-the-clock to monitor events that could impact your travel plans. Here are just a few ways we keep the trains running.

Actively Monitoring Weather

Our 24-hour National Operations Center and Emergency Management personnel are monitoring the latest weather conditions 24/7, assessing the state of the railroad and related infrastructure in real-time, and coordinating any necessary response. If we plan to operate an a modified schedule, we’ll alert passengers of train status on and via the Amtrak mobile app. Changes to train schedules or announcements about service changes will be made as far in advance as possible and posted on our Service Alerts page.

Equipment Positioning

To more quickly respond to potential problems, diesel locomotives and on-track maintenance equipment are strategically positioned along high-traffic areas like the Northeast Corridor. Should downed trees or branches disable the overhead electrical system, diesel power can help move trains when it is safe to do so, and on-track equipment can be dispatched to make any necessary infrastructure repairs.

Tree-Trimming Crews

To supplement standard coverage, independent contractors are on standby to quickly respond to reports of trees or branches down along the right-of-way, which could damage the overhead electrical system or prevent safe passage of trains. Amtrak engages in a regular year-round, tree-trimming program to proactively minimize such impacts.

Switch Heater Inspections

To make sure switches – the interlocking tracks that allow rail traffic controllers to route trains from one track to another – are working throughout the storm, Amtrak inspects switch heaters in affected areas to make sure they are in good working order. Amtrak is activating switch heaters, lubricating the switches, and treating them with anti-freeze agents.

Additional Staffing

Mechanical, engineering and operations forces are mobilizing additional crews to ensure safe and efficient operation of the railroad. Additional on-board staff are pre-positioned to respond should a re-crewing need arise.

As always, our top priority is the safety of our passengers and employees. If winter weather is imminent, make sure to plan ahead, allowing extra time for traveling to and from the station.

We do everything we can to help you arrive at your location safely on and on-time. If it looks like weather is likely to impact your schedule, learn how you can check the real-time status of your train, or how you can modify your reservation in the event of severe weather.