Rail Industry Response to COVID-19

How freight railroads, short line railroads, Amtrak, commuter rail/transit, and rail suppliers are managing the global crisis

America’s freight railroads, short line railroads, Amtrak, commuter rail/transit, and rail suppliers are committed to protecting their employees and members of the public while performing their critical roles of safely moving freight and passengers.

Below are links to information and resources on how OneRail member organizations are handling the COVID-19 global health emergency through the links below. These links will be updated as needed.


American Public Transportation Association

American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association COVID Resources Page

American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association Reopening Business and Resuming Operations Page

Association of American Railroads

Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen

National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC)

Railroad Passengers Association

Railway Supply Institute


SMART Rail Union

Teamsters Rail Conference (BLET and BMWE) 

Transportation Communications International Union/International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (TCU)

Guidance on identifying essential, critical infrastructure workers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security CISA

More information and resources are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read OneRail’s  3/27/2020 statement on Congress’ approval of the emergency coronavirus relief package 

Information and News on Transportation/Transit/Rail and COVID-19


Pros and Cons of Traveling by Different Modes of Transportation

The Washington Post compared different modes of transportation: We took a plane, train and (rental) automobile for the experience, not the journey.

Experts Say This Is the Safest Mode of Transportation During COVID-19

Amtrak offers health advantages that airlines can’t. Many stations are outdoors, there are fewer bottlenecks for check-in, and no security screening. Amtrak already has an advantage over most commercial aircraft since there are no middle seats on its trains.


Is the Subway Risky? It May Be Safer Than You Think

New studies in Europe and Asia suggest that riding public transportation is not a major source of transmission for the coronavirus. In addition, there have been no notable superspreader events linked to mass transit, according to a survey of transportation agencies conducted by The New York Times.

Is Riding the Subway Safer Than Dining Indoors?

While experts say riding the subway is probably riskier than walking outdoors, it is also probably safer than dining indoors. New York officials are now focused on how to draw riders back while avoiding crowding at rush hour. Subway ridership in the city is still at about 20 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

What Happens to Viral Particles on the Subway

The subway’s ventilation system moves air within train cars more efficiently than restaurants, schools and other indoor settings, according to aerosol experts. But it is not a guarantee to protect against the virus. This article explains how this works.

There Is Little Evidence That Mass Transit Poses a Risk of Coronavirus Outbreaks

There is scant evidence tying major coronavirus outbreaks to buses and trains. On the contrary, transit can play a crucial role in the pandemic era by reducing air pollution that makes people more susceptible to COVID-19.

Fear of Public Transit Got Ahead of the Evidence

A recent study in Paris found that none of 150 identified coronavirus infection clusters from early May to early June originated on the city’s transit systems. A similar study in Austria found that not one of 355 case clusters in April and May was traceable to riding transit.


Coronavirus: What’s the risk on transport?

Little research has been done on specific risks on transport, but we can apply what we know so far about general virus transmission. Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales small droplets packed with the virus into the air. The risk indoors, in enclosed spaces, is higher than outdoors. Indoors, good ventilation helps – so being able to open a window on public transport can be an advantage.

New Amtrak CEO talks about riding the rails during the coronavirus pandemic

CBS This Morning featured Amtrak President & CEO Bill Flynn highlighting customer safety: 

Is it Safe to Travel by Train During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Oprah Magazine featured Amtrak Medical Director Dr. Kuhnen

Amtrak videos: