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story.lead_photo.caption An Amtrak train arrives in Jefferson City on Thursday, April 4, 2019, heading westbound to Kansas City. Photo by Mark Wilson / Fulton Sun.
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Starting Monday, in response to calls for social distancing due to the COVID-19 emergency and a sharp drop in passenger numbers, Amtrak will go from two round-trip cross-state passenger trains a day to one round trip per day in Missouri.

Train 314 will go from Kansas City to St. Louis. It will depart at 8:15 a.m., depart from Jefferson City at 11:18 a.m. and arrive in St. Louis at 1:55 p.m.

Train 313 will go from St. Louis to Kansas City. It will depart from St. Louis at 4 p.m., depart from Jefferson City at 6:22 p.m. and get to Kansas City at 9:40 p.m.

"Across our nationwide system we've seen steep passenger declines, as much as 90 percent or more, and this includes the Missouri River Runner route," said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. "State and local public health officials are telling residents to stay home, so we feel this is the responsible thing to do. We're still connecting riders to St. Louis and Kansas City and we're still serving food on the train, for now."

Magliari said they also have reduced their Lincoln Service, which goes from St. Louis to Chicago, from five trains daily to three.

Due to service reductions, some stations along the Missouri River Runner route may not be staffed by volunteers. If the station is closed, passengers should proceed to the platform to board their train.

Missouri Department of Transportation Railroad Operations Manager Bryan Ross said the Jefferson City station at Jefferson Landing has remained open, but the pool of volunteers who have been helping to keep it open has been shrinking. Jefferson City Operation Division Director Britt Smith said they have city staff go down daily to clean the station.

As an added measure to ensure the health and safety of customers and employees, Magliari said Amtrak will temporarily accept cashless payments only in stations and on trains.

Magliari also said customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will be contacted and typically be accommodated on trains with similar departure times or another day.

Amtrak is waiving change fees on all existing or new reservations made before April 30. Log in to your account or go to Modify Trip on Amtrak.com, or find your reservation from your account on the home screen in the Amtrak app. A fare difference can apply to your new itinerary. If you want to cancel your reservation with no fee, you must call 800-USA-RAIL and speak with an agent. That is not available via Amtrak.com or the app.

Ross said the temporary changes on the Missouri River Runner trains are scheduled to go through the end of May, but that can change and they will give the public notice when it's time to restore two round-trip trains to the route.

This comes as state lawmakers are once again debating funding for the passenger train service.

"We still have a lot of support from lawmakers to maintain current levels of service, but it doesn't make sense to run the full service when our health professionals are telling people to reduce travel because of the COVID-19 emergency, " Magliari said. "This move demonstrates good stewardship. We plan to go back to restore full service, but do it in a way that is safe and respects the public health directives."

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