Pets Will Board Some Amtrak Trains Beginning May 5

Commuters walked by an Amtrak train in Boston.
Commuters walked by an Amtrak train in Boston. –Yoon S. Byun / Globe Staff

Cat and dog owners who travel by train may soon be able to bring their furry friends along.

Amtrak has announced a six-month “Carry-On Pet Pilot Program’’ launching in Chicago May 5 in which pets will board with people on designated train cars. If successful, it will be rolled out nationwide.

Service animals currently ride in the passenger cabin free of charge. But other than that, Amtrak has had a strict “Animals Not Allowed’’ policy.

The fee will be $25 for dogs and cats (no other animal is allowed). They must be less than 20 pounds and stay in carriers under your seat — similar to how pets travel on planes. They must be at least eight weeks old, odorless, harmless, and not disruptive. They must remain in the carrier at all times. See more rules on


“Amtrak is supportive of accommodating pets on trains, and through direct collaboration with the Illinois Department of Transportation and a working group led by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham of California we are optimistic a plan can be reached to address the needs and concerns of all our passengers,’’ said Joe Boardman, Amtrak president and CEO, in a news release .

Last May, Denham, a dog owner, introduced a bill that would allow pets to travel on certain Amtrak trains.

The bill had the support of The Humane Society of the United States.

“Millions of American families have beloved pets, and allowing them to travel by train will support the human-animal bond,’’ said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States in a statement on the organization’s website.

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