Baucus, Tester: Amtrak’s Empire Builder is ‘on a roll’

Senators cosponsor reauthorization of Amtrak funding

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – For the Empire Builder, ridership is moving full steam ahead.

Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today praised the Amtrak passenger train line for reporting another increase in the annual number of passengers.  The Empire Builder reported more than 500,000 passengers during the last fiscal year, an increase of 1.6%.  Amtrak said the Empire Builder is its most popular overnight train

The Empire Builder provides daily service between Chicago and Seattle/Portland.  It makes eleven stops along Montana's Hi-Line: Wolf Point, Glasgow, Malta, Havre, Shelby, Cut Bank, Browning, East Glacier, Essex, West Glacier and Whitefish.

"The Empire Builder is the lifeline of the Hi-Line," Baucus said. "It plays a vital role in our state and the increase in ridership numbers just reinforces its importance."

"The Empire Builder serves Montana from Wolfpoint to Whitefish and every town in between," Tester said. "It's a critically important part of our economy and our transportation infrastructure, and I'm glad to see it's on a roll."

Both Baucus and Tester have sponsored a bill to reauthorize federal funding for Amtrak and the Empire Builder.  The Amtrak Reauthorization Bill is due to go the Senate floor in the coming days.

Nationwide, Amtrak ridership increased to nearly 26 million passengers last year—a record since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971.  Amtrak said its total revenue for last year was $1.5 billion.  That's an increase of 11% over Fiscal Year 2006.