Pets on Trains Program Now Permanent in Illinois

April 22, 2015

Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are officially continuing a service that allows travelers to bring their small pets along on trips to and from Chicago and Downstate Illinois. An extended trial was set to expire this month, but due to positive customer response, the program is instead being made permanent with no changes in the provisions that were piloted.

Pets have been carried between Chicago and Quincy on Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains for nearly a year, with the service expanding to the Illini and Saluki routes last August between Chicago and Carbondale. During that time, some 200 animals have accompanied passengers without a single complaint or incident.

"I am proud that Illinois is the first state in the country to work with Amtrak to offer this convenient service for pet owners, while also taking into account the considerations of other passengers," said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. "By allowing pets on trains, Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation are making it that much easier for people to experience so many of our great communities throughout the state."

"Together with Illinois, Amtrak has developed a service that meets the needs of our passengers and their pets in a safe, convenient manner," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "By collaborating directly with the Illinois DOT and a working group led by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham of California in support of this initiative, we are now able to consider this service on other routes."  

"Pet owners are thrilled to have a new travel option. Amtrak is seeing new revenue and increased ridership due to the Pets on Trains pilot program," said Rep. Denham. "Making this permanent will allow this popular program to continue to grow in Illinois.  I look forward to continuing to work toward a national policy so Americans can travel safely with their pets."

Ticketing and travel with pets originates throughout the day in Chicago, Carbondale, Champaign and Galesburg, while the service is only available during afternoon departures in Homewood and Naperville due to staffing. Advance reservations are required and a surcharge of $25 is assessed for travel. Dogs or cats up to 20-pounds each will be accepted in carriers that can be placed under the seat of each pet owner.

Other provisions apply; please see the attached Amtrak Passenger Service Notice. Amtrak routinely welcomes service animals on trains at no charge and that policy is unchanged.

Trains 380-383, the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, operate daily to and from Chicago, LaGrange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb and Quincy. Trains 390-393, the Illini and Saluki, operate daily to and from Chicago, Homewood, Kankakee, Gilman, Rantoul, Champaign, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, DuQuoin and Carbondale.