May 7, 2020 / 6:58 PM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. railroad Amtrak will require all passengers to wear facial coverings

(Adds more details, background, file PIX available)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, May 7 (Reuters) - U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak said on Thursday it will require all passengers in stations, trains and connecting buses to wear facial coverings starting May 11.

Separately, Amtrak confirmed it will resume high-speed Acela service between Boston and Washington starting June 1 amid the massive decline in travel.

Major airlines have said in recent days they are requiring facial covering on board all planes, while many public transit agencies, Uber Technologies Inc and some bus companies are also requiring masks or other facial coverings during trips.

The Transportation Security Administration is requiring all security officers at airport checkpoints to wear facial coverings, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Amtrak said small children who are not able to maintain a facial covering are exempt from this requirement.

Amtrak said last month it expects to lose at least $700 million in operating earnings in this budget year due to the effects of the coronavirus.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said last month ridership has dropped by roughly 95% and the railroad believes it will "likely suffer the loss of over seven hundred million dollars in adjusted operating earnings – and we might lose more."

Amtrak said last month it had cut 57% of train trips nationwide. Last year, Amtrak set records for ridership, revenue and financial performance, including 32.5 million customer trips, a year-over-year increase of 800,000 passengers.

Amtrak's numbers are improving off historic lows, according to an internal report seen by Reuters and confirmed by the railroad.

For the week ending April 26, Amtrak said it had 26,393 passengers, down 95% from 2019 - but 1,124 more passengers than last week, the second consecutive week over week increase, the report said.

In the northeast corridor, Amtrak had 4,274 passengers, down 98% from 2019 and 107 more passengers than the prior week.

Amtrak reported 8,100 daily bookings for future travel on April 30, compared to 102,000 on the same day of week last year, while long distance bookings posted the best year-over-year results since March 21.

Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chris Reese and Nick Zieminski

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