Amtrak ‘Empire Builder’ service in ND will drop to three times a week starting Oct. 19

Local News

An Amtrak train waits at a platform prior to its departure at Union Station November 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In one month, Amtrak passenger rail service through North Dakota will drop to three times a week, due to the impact of COVID-19 on rail travel.

The move to reduce service on most Amtrak routes was announced a few months earlier, but the move is getting renewed attention as the deadline draws closer.

Starting the week of October 19, the Empire Builder westbound train that leaves Chicago for the west coast will operate Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays

The eastbound Empire Builder from Seattle or Portland will operate Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays.

The Empire Builder goes through the northern portion of North Dakota: Williston, Stanley, Minot, Rugby, Devils Lake, Grand Forks and south through Fargo.

The rail advocacy group, Rail Passengers Association, is campaigning to keep Amtrak’s daily service intact by trying to get Congress to pass a coronavirus relief package for intercity rail networks and public transit systems.

“If we succeed, we preserve daily service across Amtrak’s National Network and keep transit running for our nation’s essential workers,” the association notes in a news release. “Failure to act by Congress could result in dire consequences for the U.S. transportation system—including the elimination of an unknown number of state-supported and long-distance routes, and deep cuts to public transit and commuter rail.”

According to the Rail passengers Association, an Oct. 1 deadline looms for Congress to prepare and pass legislation that would provide $5 billion in COVID relief funding for Amtrak and $32 billion for public transit systems across the nation.

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