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WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- As Americans' thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving, Amtrak is gearing up for its busiest travel period of the year.
Coming on the heels of a record-setting year, Amtrak expects ridership to climb to nearly 580,000 during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday week, an increase of more than 35 percent over a typical week. During an average week, 420,000 travelers travel on Amtrak.
The heaviest days of the holiday week are Wednesday before Thanksgiving when an estimated 115,000 people will ride Amtrak, and Sunday after the holiday when nearly 100,000 passengers will be aboard the trains.
Demand for passenger rail provided by Amtrak has been steadily growing, fueled in part by travelers' frustrations over higher gas prices, increased highway congestion, and airline delays. For its fiscal year 2000, Amtrak reported all-time annual records in both ridership and ticket revenue -- 22.5 million and $1.1 billion, respectively.
It was the fourth consecutive year of increases, and the trend is continuing. Last month, Amtrak had its best October in the company's 29-year history, with passenger ridership up 10 percent over last year to more than 1.9 million riders.
Last week, Amtrak launched its high-speed train, Acela Express, which is expected to attract considerably more riders along the Northeast corridor. The train, the first of its kind in North America with speeds reaching 150 miles per hour, will begin passenger service between Washington, New York and Boston on December 11.
To accommodate the additional customers this Thanksgiving week, Amtrak will add more than 65,000 seats, or 20 percent more than a normal week. The company also will increase its schedule by 45 trains in the Northeast, and add coaches to Midwest corridor trains and elsewhere.
Amtrak recommends that travelers arrive at the station 45 minutes early, especially during the peak travel days of Wednesday and Sunday, to ensure a smoother travel experience during the Thanksgiving week. Roundtrip tickets should be purchased whenever possible to avoid waiting in lines. Luggage should be limited to no more than two pieces.
Amtrak's one-of-a-kind satisfaction guarantee, introduced in July, will be in full effect on all trains, including the special holiday trains, during the Thanksgiving period. The satisfaction guarantee promises every Amtrak guest a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience. If a guest is dissatisfied, employees will attempt to resolve the problem. If still dissatisfied, a guest can receive a service certificate for free future travel aboard Amtrak. For more information about Amtrak travel, visit http://www.amtrak.com or call toll-free 1-800-USA-RAIL.
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