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updated: 4/28/2014 7:09 PM

Amtrak opening doors to pets

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  • Small pets in carriers will be allowed on some Illinois Amtrak trains.

      Small pets in carriers will be allowed on some Illinois Amtrak trains.
    Daily Herald File Photo


It will be training cats and dogs soon on select Amtrak routes between Chicago and Quincy as part of a six-month pilot program.

Effective May 5, cats and dogs up to 20 pounds in carriers will be allowed on the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains, the railroad announced Monday.

The test program has the support of the Illinois Department of Transportation and it could be extended to a long-term service, Secretary Ann Schneider said. The idea was suggested by train passengers, she said.

There are some caveats: Reservations must be made in advance, and pets must be kept in carriers under seats.

Pets can board only at staffed stations in Chicago, Naperville and Galesburg.

The pilot program runs through Nov. 2.

"We are optimistic a plan can be reached to address the needs and concerns of all our passengers," Amtrak President Joe Boardman said.

The service is also being offered in California. Service dogs are accommodated on Amtrak currently at no charge.

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