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Amtrak Expecting Less Than 40,000 Travelers Over Thanksgiving Holiday Amid Pandemic, Restrictions

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Some people are choosing to travel by train this Thanksgiving, but things will look a little different on the rails this year. Amtrak officials say it's been busier than it's been over the past few months but nowhere near how busy it was last year.

It's been a bah-humbug start to the holiday travel season, a nearly empty 30th Street Station on what's supposed to be the busiest travel day of the year.

"My last trip here, it was packed, it was crowded, so different scene," said Jack Walter, who's traveling from Washington, D.C., to New Jersey. "Not to sound depressing, but not as good. It's not as lively. It's not the same vibe and feel for sure."

Last year during the Thanksgiving travel period, Amtrak had about 200,000 people walk through 30th Street Station. However, this year, they're expecting less than 40,000.

The number of riders is about 20% of the typical period between Nov. 21 and Dec. 5.

"We're not focused on capacity this year. We're really focused on making sure that those people who do need to travel with us have plenty of space to be able to distance themselves onboard and here in our stations," Amtrak employee Beth Toll said.

Capacity on trains is being reduced to about 50%. They've also increased their cleaning protocols.

Despite warnings from health officials to stay home, people say not seeing their family was not an option.

"I talked to my parents about it. They're OK with it, I'm OK with it," said Anthony Notafrancesco, who's traveling to Harrisburg. "There's only three of us, so yeah, obviously there's a risk, but we're comfortable with it."

"It's a family tradition. Usually, we have 20-30 people," Walter said. "Now, it's just my close family so not extended at all."

Officials have warned people against traveling for the holidays.


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