Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation are teaming up to let travelers bring their pets along between Chicago and Quincy on Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains, AMTRAK reports. The six-month program will evaluate the idea for other trains nationally.
Reservations are now available for travel from May 5 through Nov.2, as a test of the service, Amtrak says. Ticketing and travel with pets can begin only at staffed stations in Chicago, Naperville and Galesburg, advance reservations are required and a surcharge of $25 will be assessed for travel.
Dogs or cats up to 20-pounds each will be accepted in carriers such as those used in airplane cabins and placed at the feet and under the seat of each pet owner. The pilot program is scheduled to be continuously reviewed.
"Amtrak is supportive of accommodating pets on trains...we are optimistic a plan can be reached to address the needs and concerns of all our passengers," said Amtrak president and CEO Joe Boardman.
Said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider: “By listening to and accommodating all passengers, I am hopeful we can create a long-term policy that allows pets on trains and makes traveling on Amtrak even more appealing to a wider audience.”
Amtrak says it routinely welcomes service animals on trains at no charge and that policy is unchanged.