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Amtrak pilot program allows train travel with pet

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During a pilot program in Illinois, travelers will be allowed to take small dogs and cats on Amtrak, according to Monday’s Chicago Sun Times.

Starting May 5, travelers on Amtrak Carl Sandburg Trains 381 and 382, or the Illinois Zephyr Trains 380 and 383 which run between Chicago and Quincy, can bring on one pet per passenger. This applies to dogs and cats only.

The animals can weigh up to 20 pounds. They must be at least eight weeks old, must require no attention during travel, and cannot be disruptive. Kept in a small carrier, the pets are to be stored under the owner’s seat, similar to plane travel. A carrier counts as one piece of carry-on baggage.

The cost to bring along a pet will be $25. More rules can be found on amtrak.com.

The pets-on-board pilot program will run from May 5 until November 2. During that time, at least one car per train will be “pet-free” for those allergic to animals.

During the first testing, train stops to-and-from will be Chicago, LaGrange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb and Quincy. However, boarding can only begin at the Chicago, Naperville and Galesburg stations, since they are the only stations with scales to weigh pets.

In a news release, Amtrak president and CEO Joe Boardman said “Amtrak is supportive of accommodating pets on trains, and through direct collaboration with the Illinois Department of Transportation and a working group led by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham of California we are optimistic a plan can be reached to address the needs and concerns of all our passengers.”

If responses are favorable to the first test program, Amtrak may implement the pets-on-board program nationwide.

Advance reservations are required to travel with pets. For reservations, contact an agent by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL or in person at a staffed station.

To follow Amtrak on Facebook, click here.

(Updated April 30, 2014 7:50 pm EST)

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