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Amtrak to test allowing pets on trains

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Amtrak announced April 28 that it will allow pets on certain trains for six months to test whether the idea could be implemented nationally.

The pilot program will run from May 5 to Nov. 2 and involve “Illinois Zephyr” and “Carl Sandburg” passenger trains traveling between Chicago and Quincy, Ill. Each train will have a designated pet car.

Under the program, people traveling with their pets must pay a $25 surcharge, make advance reservations, and begin their trips at staffed stations in Chicago, Naperville or Galesburg. The pilot is limited to cats and dogs weighing up to 20 pounds each with an airline-like carrier. The carrier must be small enough to fit under a pet owner’s seat. Only one pet per passenger will be allowed.

U.S. lawmakers have been urging Amtrak to start allowing companion animals on trains. The proposed Pets on Trains Act, introduced last May, would require Amtrak to develop a policy for people to travel with their pets. The measure has amassed more than 30 co-sponsors in the House.

Currently, the only animals allowed on Amtrak trains nationwide are “service animals” who aid people with disabilities. The railroad said it will continue to welcome service animals on trains at no charge.

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