How Amtrak Runs Even Through a Snowy Winter

When winter weather makes other modes of transportation tough, Amtrak works around the clock to monitor snowfall events and keep the trains running. Here are the six key factors for how Amtrak keeps the trains running, even through the snow.

Weather Monitoring

Amtrak’s National Operations Center and Emergency Management personnel monitor the latest weather conditions 24/7 and assess railroad and related infrastructure conditions in real-time. If they determine the need to operate on a modified schedule, passengers can get train status updates on and on the Amtrak mobile app. Schedule and service change announcements are made as far in advance as possible and posted on our Service Alerts page. If necessary, you can modify your reservation to travel at a different time.


Amtrak performs year-round tree-trimming to proactively minimize the impact of downed trees or branches that can damage the overhead electrical system or impede the safe passage of trains. When conditions dictate extra help is needed, Amtrak has independent contractors on standby to assist our crews in quickly responding to these issues so trains can roll again.

Additional Staffing

When storms hit, Amtrak’s mechanical, engineering and operations teams mobilize additional crews to ensure safe and efficient operations, while additional on-board staff are pre-positioned to fill in if scheduled crews are delayed due to weather conditions.

Equipment Positioning

When the forecast calls for high winds and/or heavy snow, diesel locomotives and on-track maintenance equipment are strategically positioned along high-traffic routes to address downed trees or branches that can both disable overhead electrical systems and make the tracks impassable. Diesel locomotives provide the power to move trains when conditions are deemed safe, while on-track equipment is dispatched to make any necessary infrastructure repairs.

Switch Inspections

Amtrak inspects the interlocking tracks that allow rail traffic controllers to route trains from one track to another, known as switches, to ensure they remain operational even in inclement weather. In cold weather, switch heaters are activated, and the switches are lubricated and treated with anti-freeze materials to keep them fully operational.

Safety First

The safety of passengers and employees is Amtrak’s top priority, but passengers are also encouraged to plan ahead and allow extra time for traveling to and from the station if winter weather or seasonal storms are predicted. And once you're on the train: simply relax and enjoy the snowy view.