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A pilot program will allow pets on Amtrak

FILE - This July 23, 2013 file photo shows Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) in July 2013. C (Evan Vucci/AP)

Folks who’d like to bring their furry companions with them on Amtrak have won a small victory.

Amtrak officials this week announced a pilot program that will allow travelers aboard the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains from Chicago to Quincy to bring their pets along for a $25 charge. The six-month pilot will begin May 5 and run through Nov. 2.

The program is open to dogs and cats up to 20 pounds. The pets will have to travel in carriers placed at their owner’s feet under the seat.

“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,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman in a news release announcing the program.

Last May, Denham, a Republican, introduced a bill that would allow travelers to be able to take their dogs and cats on certain Amtrak trains.

“My dog, Lily, is a part of our family and travels with us to and from California all the time,” he said in a news release. “If I can take her on a plane, why can’t I travel with her on Amtrak, too?”

In November, Denham and his fellow co-sponsors, which included Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.)  — who is now making headlines for other reasons — took their case and their pets to Union Station for a photo op.

“Look at that face!” Grimm gushed, in better times, showing off Sebastian, his beloved Yorkie.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.



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