Illinois will be the testing ground for an Amtrak initiative that would allow pets 20 lb. and under on board. Between May 5 and Nov. 2, travelers going from Chicago to Quincy, Ill., which is about a 4.5-hour trip via train, can pay $25 to bring their dogs or cats along for the ride as a part of Amtrak's Carry-On Pet pilot program.
Monday was the first day passengers could begin booking reservations for their four-legged friends, though the trips must begin at one of three locations in the Chicago area. Service animals are already allowed on board Amtrak trains, but this is the first program that would allow pets on board.
“We in Illinois welcome this exciting new pilot program, which is something that has been suggested by train passengers,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider in a press release. “By listening to and accommodating all passengers, I am hopeful we can create a long-term policy that allows pets on trains and makes traveling on Amtrak even more appealing to a wider audience.”
The program in Illinois is a collaboration between Amtrak, the Illinois Department of Transportation and a working group led by Congressman Jeff Denham, Republican of California, who introduced a bill last May to allow domestic pets on board trains. If the program is successful in Illinois, it’ll likely to be introduced nationwide.
The pilot program won't let Fido roam freely between the quiet and café cars, however. According to Amtrak's website, each of the two trains where the program is being tested will have one car designated for pets, which must remain in the carrier under the passengers' designated train seat throughout the duration of the trip.