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Booking a train? Amtrak will now show you how full it is in real time.


(iStock/Washington Post illustration)

Just in time for holiday travel, Amtrak has made updates to its app and website that allow customers to see how full trains are as they search for a reservation and up until their time of departure.

The number of other passengers booked for the trip will be shown as a percentage of the train’s overall seat availability. The percentage, which appears next to the train number, will “adjust dynamically in real time as more passengers make reservations,” Amtrak said in a news release.

“While we are limiting capacity to roughly 50 percent, that percentage varies depending on the quantity and size of groups that are traveling together," the company said via email.

The move is the latest in a number of changes the railroad service has made to continue operating during the pandemic, including updating service schedules based on demand, limiting capacity on trains, waiving change and cancellation fees, and mandating masks be worn by all passengers and crew.

“Prioritizing health and safety, we continue to provide customers with new, innovative measures that promote physical distancing and contactless travel,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in the release. “We have studied, analyzed and made improvements to the Amtrak travel experience — from beginning to end — for the safety and health of our workforce and travelers.”

In the email, Amtrak also said: "Individuals traveling alone may use the seat next to them for personal belongings, while friends and family members will easily find seats together.” The company notes on its website that its app is a contact-free way for travelers to book travel, check schedules and board trains.

Amtrak typically sees a surge in holiday travel bookings around Thanksgiving. In 2019, the company called Thanksgiving week its busiest travel period of the year and said that “tickets sell out quickly, so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book tickets early.”

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