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Ride Amtrak for the price of SEPTA between PHL & Wilmington

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A late-night freight derailment last week (early May 2018) caused extensive damage to the NEC tracks between Philadelphia and Wilmington. This section is owned by Amtrak. SEPTA uses it for its commuter rail service between PHL and Wilmington/Newark, DE.

 

With two tracks out of service, Amtrak is allowing SEPTA to resume service but under a limited schedule. According to SEPTA, to offset the reduced service, Amtrak is cross-honoring SEPTA tickets between Philadelphia and Wilmington. Normally when Amtrak cross-honors commuter tickets, it is only for monthly passes. In this case, Amtrak will also honor regular tickets. This means that for under $7, you can ride Amtrak on this segment. The Amtrak ticket that would normally set you back $23 (advance purchase) or as much as $70 walk-up.

 

It's not clear whether Amtrak will cross-honor on Acela...I suspect not. I also haven't seen any official communication from Amtrak on this...so buyer beware. This arrangement will also end once the track repair is completed, but it sounds like that could be several weeks.

Edited by the_traveler

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Has anything like this ever happened before on the NEC? The closest thing I can think of to this were the Clockers (hourly unreserved NYP-PHL trains that allowed NJT tickets). But this is the first I’ve heard of any reserved Amtrak service accepting tickets from an unrelated commuter carrier.

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Amtrak also does a cross-honor for Shoreline East (though I think that's only for monthly tickets). They used to do a cross-honor with MARC monthly tickets...at one point they offered it for a number of off-peak services (I believe that Charlie Hamilton used to commute BAL-WAS on the Charles Nelson Reilly James Whitcomb Riley on weekends as well), and until MARC started weekend services they had a deal on Saturday/Sunday. There was actually quite a notable hit to ridership on Regionals on weekends as a result when MARC went to seven-day service on the Penn Line.

I don't know if there is or has been any cross-honoring in southern California, but that's the one other place it would make a lot of sense to have it.

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There is a Rail 2 Rail program, as I recall it is called, in the Metrolink/Pacific Surfliner area, although I'm not familiar with the policies and restrictions.

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There is a Rail 2 Rail program, as I recall it is called, in the Metrolink/Pacific Surfliner area, although I'm not familiar with the policies and restrictions.

Metrolink and Coaster monthly passes are cross-honored on Pacific Surfliner trains, except Wednesday-Sunday of Thanksgiving week. In addition, all Metrolink tickets are cross-honored between L.A. and Burbank Airport.

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There's also cross-honoring in the Seattle area on the Amtrak Cascades with the local Sounder commuter trains. However, all of the above ongoing examples are for monthly/multi-ride pass holders ONLY. The point of this thread was to highlight an usual case where Amtrak is apparently cross-honoring single-ride tickets, thus giving non-daily commuters the chance to use an Amtrak train for the price of a commuter train.

 

All that said...that language has been removed from the SEPTA website that I linked to above. This would suggest that SEPTA was in error, or perhaps Amtrak decided to back out of the deal. Who knows. This thread has probably outlived its usefulness, in any case...

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