Amtrak Rolls Back Refund Policy for Some Passenger Tickets

The refund train is leaving the station.

Amtrak is putting the brakes on a ticket refund policy that allows certain "no show" passengers on the rail system to get their money back if they miss their train with little to no notice.

Riders who purchase "Value fare" tickets will have to cancel their reservation within 24 hours of the departure time to qualify for a refund under a new policy posted to the passenger rail system's website this week.

Amtrak spokesman Clifford Cole said the change, announced Monday, "is being driven by a need to better manage our inventory and to be able to provide seats for customers who need to purchase at the last minute."

"We believe that by encouraging customers to let us know in advance that they are not going to travel on their scheduled train, we will be able to make more seats available for customers who need to purchase at the last minute." he wrote in an email.

"Flexible fare" tickets will continue to be fully refundable under the policy, which is set to take effect March 1, 2014. A third tier of low-cost tickets, known as "Saver fare," will remain ineligible for refunds.  

Under the old refund rule, passengers who canceled their "Value fare" ticket within 24 hours of departure or who failed to show up for a train could receive a refund worth the cost of the ticket after a 10 percent cancellation fee was deducted or an eVoucher for the full amount, Cole said.

The nationwide rail system serves an average of more than 85,000 passengers throughout the country each day.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article referenced a report containing an incomplete description of the old refund rule. The story has been updated with the full policy.

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