Amtrak simplifies fare structure

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Alstom photo.
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Amtrak introduced a simplified fare structure that limits previous restrictions.

“This streamlined fare structure with more affordable and flexible fares is part of Amtrak’s continued commitment to upgrading the customer experience at every step along their journey,” stated Amtrak President Roger Harris. 

The new fare structure reduces fare types from three categories to two. It serves to provide a more consistent booking experience, a release stated. Dropped is the saver fare that came with many restrictions. Deep discount Night Owl fares will continue to be offered from Wilmington and other points on the Northeast Corridor.

The Amtrak fare structure has generated criticism over the years, with some claiming the government-owned passenger carrier was imitating airlines by offering too many restrictions and not attempting to lure passengers at times when trains were running half empty. Amtrak has been headed, at times, by airline and freight railroad executives.

Amtrak is a major employer in Delaware with administrative, training, dispatching, maintenance and other operations in New Castle County.

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Now offered

  • Flex: For customers who want a more flexible travel option, these tickets are fully refundable if canceled and can be changed without fees before departure
  • Value: For customers who know their travel plans and want a more affordable option, these tickets are at a lower price than Flex tickets, non-changeable, and receive a 75% refund if canceled.

According to Amtrak

  • Flex fares will often be available starting at lower prices than previously offered.
  • Occasional sale fares at an even deeper discount (these will be non-changeable and receive a 50% refund if canceled).
  • Any refunds of credit card purchases will be made to the original form of payment, rather than as an eVoucher.[

Changes to Coach and Acela Business tickets make it easier for Amtrak customers to choose the ticket type that best fits their travel needs, a release stated. Non-Acela Business and First Class tickets were already fully refundable and changeable with no additional fees.

Tickets purchased before the launch of the new simplified fare structure remain subject to the fare rules and conditions that were in effect when the ticket was purchased.

In announcing the fares categories, Amtrak cited the following

Example: One-Way Trip Between Washington, DC and Philadelphia
BEFORE Cheapest Saver Ticket: $19
Only Flexible Ticket: $127 Starting Price Difference for Full Flexibility: $108
NOW:Cheapest Value Ticket: $18
Cheapest Flex Ticket: $20Starting Price Difference for Full Flexibility: $2
Note: For travel on select trains between 7 p.m. – 7 a.m., the cheapest Night Owl fares for this trip are $9 for Value and $10 for Flex.

Other features

  • Introducing low “Night Owl” fares, which are as low as $5 – $20 on select Northeast Corridor (NEC) routes;
  • Enabling Amtrak Guest Rewards members to redeem tickets with points on more fare types;
  • Updating the children’s discount so that all children (2-12 years old) can travel for 50% off with an accompanying adult (previously limited to 1 child discount per adult fare)[3];
  • Expanding passenger discounts – such as senior and military – to apply to all fares, including sales;
  • Improving Share Fares, which allow groups of 3-8 people traveling together to receive discounts ranging from 17% to 60%.
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