Pet travel by train can be much safer and less stressful than taking your pet on an airplane. Air travel can put your pet at risk due to changes in air quality, air circulation, temperature, cabin pressure, and other environmental issues that could be harmful to your pet’s health. In fact, select short-nosed breeds are not allowed to travel on certain airlines because of respiratory issues that may make it especially difficult for them to breathe properly under the stress and environment of flying. On Amtrak there’s no restrictions on traveling with short-nosed breeds.
Traveling with your pet by train can also be a much cheaper alternative than flying or even driving. In addition, you won’t have to worry about having to produce proof of vaccinations, a health certificate, or any other type of paperwork. In fact, most trains only require that your pet be able to travel in a pet carrier that can fit on your lap, or underneath your seat.
Amtrak is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States and to nine Canadian cities. Amtrak welcomes dogs and cats up to 20 pounds (combined weight of pet and carrier) for trips up to seven hours on most routes. Only dogs and cats are allowed to travel as pets. Pets are permitted in Coach Class and Acela Business Class (pets are not allowed in Acela First Class seating, First Class private rooms, non-Acela Business Class, food service cars or other accommodations). Reservations with pets are limited to seven hours total travel time, including transfer time between trains on multiple-segment trips.
Not all Amtrak trains allow pets, and some trains don’t accept pets on all services. For example, if travelling between New York and Washington, the Northeast Regional trains accept pets on all services. However, the Acela Express only accepts pets on weekend and holiday services, while some other trains don’t allow pets anytime. Some routes designate a specific Coach car for pets: Amtrak Cascades, Carl Sandburg, Illinois Zephyr, Illini, Lincoln Service, Saluki, Pere Marquette, Wolverine, Blue Water, Hiawatha and Missouri River Runner. On other pet friendly routes, you and your pet may ride in any Coach car. Find info on which Amtrak trains allow pets.
Pet travel by train in Canada is not available on Adirondack, Maple Leaf and Amtrak Cascades; not available on Auto Train, Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian, San Joaquins, Capitol Corridor Pacific Surfliner or Thruway Connecting Services. Amtrak does not ship pets or allow them to travel as checked baggage — a pet must travel with a human. Read more about Amtrak’s pet policy.
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VIA Rail Canada operates 475 trains per week in eight Canadian provinces (exceptions are Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island). VIA Rail Canada allows pets – only small dogs and cats – to travel in cars with their owners as long as the animals are small enough to fit comfortably in a carrier that meets VIA Rail carrier standards. The total weight of the carrier and animal must not exceed 10 kilograms (22 lb.). This pet travel by train policy applies only on Corridor trains (Québec City to Windsor). Pets are prohibited from traveling with passengers on The Maple Leaf (Toronto – New York) Amtrak train. Read more here.
Pets may travel as a checked item in the baggage car as long as the pet is on the same train as their owner and is claimed immediately upon arrival. Dogs, cats and small rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc.) are the only animals allowed in baggage cars. Birds cannot be checked. From June 1 to September 30, baggage cars cannot transport animals due to lack of proper ventilation. Usually, pets may be transported year-round on the Ocean (Montréal – Halifax), as all cars are air-conditioned. Certain provinces and regions refuse pitbulls, therefore, VIA Rail does not accept this breed of dog system wide. Read more here.
In general, pets are allowed to travel with you on most European trains for free if they are in a carrier. Larger pets need to be muzzled and kept on a leash and usually travel for a reduced rate. However, the rules for traveling with a pet on a train vary from train company to company, country to country. For instance, some countries do not allow large dogs to travel on trains, only small dogs in a container. Always check the details for the specific train company before planning your trip. Please note: Guide and assistance dogs are the only animals allowed on Eurostar.
Dogs, cats and ferrets traveling by train across country borders must have a minimum of one current rabies vaccination administered after a microchip is implanted and no sooner than 21 days prior to travel. If your pet has had more than one rabies vaccination given after the chip was implanted and all were kept current, you do not need to wait for 21 days after the booster. Dogs, cats and ferrets must travel with an EU Pet Passport issued by your veterinarian.
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