Amtrak to review routes
Passengers prepare to board the Acela at Union Station. (By Gerald Martineau/The Washington Post)
In many states, travelers who take Amtrak's long-distance trains for vacations or business trips board in the middle of the night and return home from such cities as Chicago or New York City at times that are just as inconvenient.
Now Amtrak is looking to improve its long-distance routes. Under federal law, all of Amtrak's 15 national routes are scheduled for reviews through 2012 as the agency tries to attract more passengers and increase revenue.
The routes include the Cardinal, a train that stops in Cincinnati three days a week on its way between Chicago and New York City; and the Capitol Limited, a daily train between Chicago and Washington that stops in Ohio at Toledo, Sandusky, Elyria, Cleveland and Alliance.
Amtrak says focus groups and customer feedback will help determine ways to improve schedules, equipment, reliability, food service and staffing levels.
Last month, Amtrak rolled out wireless Internet access on its Acela Express trains between Washington and Boston. It is evaluating whether to add WiFi to other routes.
The push for upgrades comes as Amtrak is on pace for record ridership this year, carrying a best-ever 13.6 million passengers in the first half of fiscal year 2010. That's a 4.3 percent increase over the same period last year, and 100,000 more than 13.5 million posted in the first half of 2008, Amtrak's previous highest ridership of 28.7 million passengers.
-- Associated Press
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