• North Coast Hiawatha Study

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by george matthews
 
Noel Weaver wrote:It appears to me that the type of passenger who rides the EB is leasure, tourists, folks with no other transportation options and others enroute to the parks and resorts along the way. I have ridden practically all of the present route as well as some of the NP route and both are scenic but Whitefish alone has huge ridership and this should not be put aside which it would with a reroute. My vote is to leave what's working well alone.
Noel Weaver
Could the northern line not have a less than daily service, extra to the regular Empire Builder route?
  by CarterB
 
Am I to assume the relatively large ridership to Whitefish is skiing in winter and Flathead Lake in the summer?
  by Tadman
 
Guys, this is really interesting and I'm learning a lot that I did not know before, thanks for the insight.

Something that's always been in the back of my head - given that a some LD passengers are vising national parks, and a lot of them (on routes like 5/6 and 7/8) ride for the scenery - should the National Park Service kick in some funding? The aim of a western LD and the NPS are similar, and the NPS has a budget about twice the size of Amtrak, solely dedicated to non-economic activity such as tourism and preservation of national landmarks.

Food for thought, and a tenuous connection to say the least.
  by CarterB
 
For comparisons..here's the Builder past few years by station:

[quote="vermontanan"]Amtrak station-by-station ridership, October 1-September 30, by fiscal year:

Empire Builder

Station
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012

Chicago, IL*
3,104,151
3,080,564
3,288,054
3,393,695
3,483,313

Glenview, IL*
65,769
66,962
66,629
70,494
71,827

Milwaukee, WI*
565,009
553,475
588,617
617,800
632,078

Columbus, WI
18,617
17,338
18,025
15,473
16,259

Portage, WI
7,453
6,965
7,483
6,115
6,747

Wisconsin Dells, WI
13,288
13,549
13,609
14,265
13,543

Tomah, WI
10,147
10,225
10,892
9,715
10,775

La Crosse, WI
31,221
30,569
31,666
28,414
28,872

Winona, MN
26,351
24,886
27,124
23,928
24,458

Red Wing, MN
10,584
10,642
10,691
8,956
10,289

St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
147,791
133,674
128,658
116,785
120,515

St. Cloud, MN
14,206
11,952
12,459
10,614
13,740

Staples, MN
8,606
6,269
5,157
5,961
7,931

Detroit Lakes, MN
4,659
4,522
4,792
3,917
4,602

Fargo, ND
24,142
21,514
21,286
16,968
20,304

Grand Forks, ND
22,842
17,928
19,751
17,201
20,271

Devils Lake, ND
6,860
5,740
6,148
4,569
5,505

Rugby, ND
7,048
5,906
6,409
6,106
7,057

Minot, ND
42,801
39,136
40,360
29,179
37,169

Stanley, ND
3,694
3,921
4,549
6,146
10,234

Williston, ND
23,619
21,793
24,586
29,920
54,324

Wolf Point, MT
8,280
7,457
6,970
6,059
8,023

Glasgow, MT
6,351
5,749
6,075
4,370
5,563

Malta, MT
4,095
3,611
3,372
2,934
3,466

Havre, MT
17,759
16,928
16,077
14,007
14,198

Shelby, MT
18,881
15,972
16,534
13,358
15,501

Cut Bank, MT
3,455
2,931
3,363
2,985
3,236

Browning, MT (seasonal)
2,269
1,975
1,884
1,834
2,171

East Glacier Park, MT (seasonal)
15,759
13,146
17,652
11,950
14,886

Essex, MT
4,941
4,280
4,746
3,568
3,354

West Glacier Park, MT
7,396
6,644
7,895
5,018
6,175

Whitefish, MT
72,207
62,492
66,813
57,823
66,614

Libby, MT
6,062
5,393
5,342
5,072
6,626

Sandpoint, ID
6,181
5,675
5,606
5,296
8,815

Spokane, WA
53,196
47,891
50,279
46,798
62,773

Ephrata, WA
4,178
3,941
3,543
3,063
3,874

Wenatchee, WA
19,275
17,519
16,912
13,664
15,895

Leavenworth, WA (effective 09/25/09)

80
9,574
8,028
12,751

Everett, WA*
44,514
42,982
45,449
42,288
44,756

Edmonds, WA*
30,876
31,225
32,668
30,472
32,896

Seattle, WA*
617,067
615,735
677,953
672,485
672,351

Pasco, WA
26,517
25,006
25,891
22,598
25,535

Wishram, WA
1,865
1,400
1,580
2,128
1,567

Bingen-White Salmon, WA
2,908
2,825
3,245
2,420
3,147

Vancouver, WA*
97,026
99,086
100,979
99,901
99,363

Portland, OR*
598,633
618,131
672,608
665,677
668,823




Stations noted with an asterisk (*) are served by more than one Amtrak train (more than one train per day in each direction).

No service at Minot from October 1, 2011 to mid-November, 2011 (FY2012).
  by joshuahouse
 
Yes, the National Park Service has a larger budget then Amtrak. It also has far more users, far more space, far more crime to try and deal with and less of a chance to at least try to cover its costs. Many National Park Service sites have no admission fee at all, despite their often having a staff larger then that required to run a train. Tourism is without question an economic activity.
  by markhb
 
Tadman wrote:Guys, this is really interesting and I'm learning a lot that I did not know before, thanks for the insight.

Something that's always been in the back of my head - given that a some LD passengers are vising national parks, and a lot of them (on routes like 5/6 and 7/8) ride for the scenery - should the National Park Service kick in some funding? The aim of a western LD and the NPS are similar, and the NPS has a budget about twice the size of Amtrak, solely dedicated to non-economic activity such as tourism and preservation of national landmarks.

Food for thought, and a tenuous connection to say the least.
I'll ask this, because I think in a way it also connects to the greater question of LD vs. corridors: why does the bolded assertion even matter? Whether it's the NPS, or the deep-space exploration arm of NASA, why does it make any difference whether a particular government activity is "economic" (by which I take your meaning as "related to the enabling or furthering of private-sector business activity") in nature or not?
  by vermontanan
 
jp1822 wrote:Why ruin a good thing with the Empire Builder. In terms of ridership, it is near the top of Amtrak's long distance trains. AND if additional capacity was added, as this train continually runs sold out, I think you would find that more passengers would be on the Empire Builder. This train gets spectacular patronage in the Glacier Natioal Park area.
Not near the top. At the top. Simply North America's single most-ridden passenger train for the past nine consecutive years.
jp1822 wrote: That being said, there is erit to the NCH route, as it would hit some large population centers. It has also been suggested that Montana run a state-supported train across the southern tier.
Montana, the fourth-largest state in the union, just topped 1 million people in 2011. So really, there are no "large population centers." Billings is the only city over 100,000 people, and Great Falls and Missoula are the only two other cities over 50,000.
jp1822 wrote: Scenery across the NCH route I think was superior than that of the Empire Builder. Glacier National Park has nice scenery for the EB but it is relatively short lived even eastbound.
Probably true, but the Empire Builder's direct access to a major national park, something not available with any other Amtrak train is hard to beat.
  by vermontanan
 
M&Eman wrote:The Builder works BECAUSE it's out of the way. There is no highway paralleling the route of the Builder, meaning that for many of these small and mid-size towns, the train is the best way in and out. The southerly route parallels I-90, so there are already fast intercity busses as well as air service (due to larger population centers) in those places. Getting rid of Amtrak's most successful LD train makes absolutely no sense.
Correct. Not only that, there was/is historic precedent that the Empire Builder route is the only Chicago-Pacific Northwest route today. Since the end of World War II, this route has always been the best-patronized, regardless of on-line population.

Ridership was one of many reasons the Empire Builder route (altered as
it was for the start of Amtrak, but not across Montana) was chosen to be
included in the initial Amtrak system. There is lots of proof of this, from
numerous newspaper articles from the period, to casual references, such as in
the book "Amtrak: The First Decade" which states, "The northern route was chosen
primarily due to higher existing ridership and the lack of good transportation
along the northern route," to more specific references such as this from the
very thorough documentation of Amtrak service, "Amtrak in the Heartland," which
states, "About 60 percent of the patronage of the Empire Builder and North Coast
Hiawatha boarded between Minneapolis and Spokane, where Great Northern was
faster and carried nearly 15 percent more patrons than Northern Pacific," and
"Railpax cited higher ridership for choosing the Empire Builder route between
Minneapolis and Fargo, N.D. (via Willmar, Minn.), rejecting the Northern Pacific
route via St. Cloud and the Western Star route via Fergus Falls."

The misperception about ridership on the northern route through Montana has been
around a long time. Also from "Amtrak in the Heartland": "Senate Majority
Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana threatened to bring down Railpax unless Montana
received two routes, saying he found it hard to believe ridership was
substantially higher on the northern route, which served only 20 percent of the
state's population." Still, regardless of these misperceptions, the reality is
with today's Empire Builder that it is the single most-ridden long distance
train in the United States. The current Empire Builder route serves stops than
any other long distance train, and more of those stations are staffed than any
other long distance western train. More people use Amtrak in Montana than in New Mexico,
where one of the two Amtrak trains there serves Albuquerque, with a metro area
with about as many people as all of Montana. So, without a doubt, need plays a
part in Empire Builder ridership, but it's not like the train is running without
anyone using it.

In addition, the Empire Builder route also enjoys serving a major national park
directly, and the inseparable link between Glacier National Park and the Great
Northern Railroad, which was pivotal in its creation, is largely still alive
today. Thousands still take the train to Glacier's doorstep at one of three
stops adjacent to the park (all adjacent to railroad-built hostelries that are
still open to this day, one as old as the park itself). The benefit of
passenger train service to Glacier Park is very real (though much diminished)
today, and it is mutually beneficial to the passenger train.

History also plays a role in the why of today's Amtrak route across Montana.
The Empire Builder, as the first post-WWII western streamliner, leapt into the
forefront of Midwest-to-Pacific Northwest rail travel right away in 1947, and
1951 when a newer version of it was put in service, the 1947 version became the
Western Star. Therefore, GN was the only carrier to offer two bona ride
streamliners on a route, something the NP or Milwaukee, and UP to the south,
couldn't claim. And after the Milwaukee had discontinued its passenger service
to Montana altogether and NP had given up sleeping cars on its secondary
Mainstreeter (offering only a slumbercoach), the summer GN Western Star still
ran as a separate (from the Fast Mail part) train on occasion to handle Glacier
Park traffic and numerous "tourist sleepers" that frequented the park. As
Amtrak approached, the Western Star was still laden with mail which offset its
losses, such that it was never posted for discontinuance (until Amtrak day),
whereas NP tried for years to rid itself of the Mainstreeter. Regardless of
whether GN should have kept running its trains right up to Amtrak day without
attempting to discontinue is irrelevant; the point is that the perception was
that GN was seen as providing the superior service without the appearance of
downgrading service that often came with posting trains for discontinuance (it
is not true that service, like on NP for instance, was downgraded, but clearly
discontinuance proceedings certainly gave the impression that the business was
not desired by the carrier).
  by vermontanan
 
Here is the ridership for all east-west long distance western trains 2008-2009-2010-2011-2012. I'm sure that it will lose much of its structure in the posting, but hopefully you can still understand the data. The salient point here is that anyone who thinks that more population along the North Coast Hiawatha route would equate to more ridership than along the Empire Builder route is being illogical. The Empire Builder serves the least-populous area of any Amtrak route, but carries the most passengers. Therefore, Minot, ND shouldn't be creating more ridership than Omaha, a city about 10 times its size, or Lincoln, Nebraska with a metro area about 100 times the size of Shelby, Montana really should have more ridership than Shelby, but that's not the case.
.


Station-by-station ridership by fiscal year:
Empire Builder
Station 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Chicago, IL* 3,104,151 3,080,564 3,288,054 3,393,695 3,483,313
Glenview, IL* 65,769 66,962 66,629 70,494 71,827
Milwaukee, WI* 565,009 553,475 588,617 617,800 632,078
Columbus, WI 18,617 17,338 18,025 15,473 16,259
Portage, WI 7,453 6,965 7,483 6,115 6,747
Wisconsin Dells, WI 13,288 13,549 13,609 14,265 13,543
Tomah, WI 10,147 10,225 10,892 9,715 10,775
La Crosse, WI 31,221 30,569 31,666 28,414 28,872
Winona, MN 26,351 24,886 27,124 23,928 24,458
Red Wing, MN 10,584 10,642 10,691 8,956 10,289
St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN 147,791 133,674 128,658 116,785 120,515
St. Cloud, MN 14,206 11,952 12,459 10,614 13,740
Staples, MN 8,606 6,269 5,157 5,961 7,931
Detroit Lakes, MN 4,659 4,522 4,792 3,917 4,602
Fargo, ND 24,142 21,514 21,286 16,968 20,304
Grand Forks, ND 22,842 17,928 19,751 17,201 20,271
Devils Lake, ND 6,860 5,740 6,148 4,569 5,505
Rugby, ND 7,048 5,906 6,409 6,106 7,057
Minot, ND 42,801 39,136 40,360 29,179 37,169
Stanley, ND 3,694 3,921 4,549 6,146 10,234
Williston, ND 23,619 21,793 24,586 29,920 54,324
Wolf Point, MT 8,280 7,457 6,970 6,059 8,023
Glasgow, MT 6,351 5,749 6,075 4,370 5,563
Malta, MT 4,095 3,611 3,372 2,934 3,466
Havre, MT 17,759 16,928 16,077 14,007 14,198
Shelby, MT 18,881 15,972 16,534 13,358 15,501
Cut Bank, MT 3,455 2,931 3,363 2,985 3,236
Browning, MT (seasonal) 2,269 1,975 1,884 1,834 2,171
East Glacier Park, MT (seasonal) 15,759 13,146 17,652 11,950 14,886
Essex, MT 4,941 4,280 4,746 3,568 3,354
West Glacier Park, MT 7,396 6,644 7,895 5,018 6,175
Whitefish, MT 72,207 62,492 66,813 57,823 66,614
Libby, MT 6,062 5,393 5,342 5,072 6,626
Sandpoint, ID 6,181 5,675 5,606 5,296 8,815
Spokane, WA 53,196 47,891 50,279 46,798 62,773
Ephrata, WA 4,178 3,941 3,543 3,063 3,874
Wenatchee, WA 19,275 17,519 16,912 13,664 15,895
Leavenworth, WA (effective 09/25/09) 80 9,574 8,028 12,751
Everett, WA* 44,514 42,982 45,449 42,288 44,756
Edmonds, WA* 30,876 31,225 32,668 30,472 32,896
Seattle, WA* 617,067 615,735 677,953 672,485 672,351
Pasco, WA 26,517 25,006 25,891 22,598 25,535
Wishram, WA 1,865 1,400 1,580 2,128 1,567
Bingen-White Salmon, WA 2,908 2,825 3,245 2,420 3,147
Vancouver, WA* 97,026 99,086 100,979 99,901 99,363
Portland, OR* 598,633 618,131 672,608 665,677 668,823

Stations noted with an asterisk (*) are served by more than one Amtrak train (more than one train per day in each direction).
No service at Minot from October 1, 2011 to mid-November, 2011.
Source: Great American Stations website.
Charted, excluding the seven largest stations:


California Zephyr
Station 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Chicago, IL* 3,104,151 3,080,564 3,288,054 3,393,695 3,483,313
Naperville, IL* 49,389 47,532 50,733 53,918 54,213
Princeton, IL* 28,042 30,787 31,644 33,678 34,713
Galesburg, IL* 98,419 97,013 102,851 104,208 106,491
Burlington, IA 7,283 7,487 8,744 7,285 7,646
Mount Pleasant, IA 9,307 15,176 16,063 13,034 13,634
Ottumwa, IA 10,993 11,556 12,383 10,497 11,674
Osceola, IA 17,881 19,423 19,095 14,891 14,681
Creston, IA 4,444 4,831 4,803 4,229 4,531
Omaha, NE 25,841 22,846 23,212 20,668 22,794
Lincoln, NE 11,935 10,968 11,779 11,756 12,468
Hastings, NE 4,623 4,633 4,765 4,839 5,358
Holdrege, NE 1,794 1,739 1,963 1,623 2,296
McCook, NE 2,987 2,899 3,218 2,939 3,540
Fort Morgan, CO 3,178 2,979 3,349 3,191 3,343
Denver, CO 129,773 120,236 128,410 115,342 113,393
Winter Park-Fraser, CO 9,400 8,390 7,913 8,252 7,162
Granby, CO 3,629 3,021 3,655 3,621 3,528
Glenwood Springs, CO 36,484 29,371 34,227 33,776 33,245
Grand Junction, CO 28,302 23,392 28,835 29,218 31,999
Green River, UT 1,568 1,585 2,825 2,367 2,478
Helper, UT 2,070 1,441 1,808 2,088 2,201
Provo, UT 3,965 3,561 5,133 4,996 5,675
Salt Lake City, UT 30,937 31,319 38,773 38,571 42,502
Elko, NV 4,607 5,279 6,835 7,125 8,278
Winnemucca, NV 2,730 2,750 3,558 3,441 4,238
Sparks, NV (service suspended effective 05/10/09) 2,095 1,168
Reno, NV 69,620 67,310 69,236 69,257 68,626
Truckee, CA 7,801 8,446 9,139 8,399 9,450
Colfax, CA 3,610 3,792 4,322 4,036 4,377
Roseville, CA* 81,478 78,299 67,796 67,831 62,233
Sacramento, CA* 1,146,308 1,109,351 1,107,220 1,175,046 1,186,958
Davis, CA* 451,995 434,779 409,611 443,168 445,416
Martinez, CA* 398,683 394,814 410,968 446,507 475,909
Richmond, CA* 276,114 281,999
Emeryville, CA* 528,203 520,969 529,965 583,865 586,876
Stations noted with an asterisk (*) are served by more than one Amtrak train (more than one train per day in each direction).
Source: Great American Stations website.

Southwest Chief
Station 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Chicago, IL* 3,104,151 3,080,564 3,288,054 3,393,695 3,483,313
Naperville, IL* 49,389 47,532 50,733 53,918 54,213
Mendota, IL* 20,677 21,108 21,082 23,768 24,250
Princeton, IL* 28,042 30,787 31,644 33,678 34,713
Galesburg, IL* 98,419 97,013 102,851 104,208 106,491
Fort Madison, IA 9,307 7,813 7,656 7,944 7,003
La Plata, MO 10,544 10,579 10,990 10,786 9,820
Kansas City, MO* 130,459 123,789 142,769 155,479 161,130
Lawrence, KS 4,008 4,500 5,096 6,410 6,608
Topeka, KS 7,554 7,513 8,618 9,760 10,459
Newton, KS 14,563 12,751 13,926 13,890 14,131
Hutchinson, KS 4,289 4,045 4,519 5,185 5,239
Dodge City, KS 4,612 4,248 4,847 5,149 5,174
Garden City, KS 6,840 6,930 7,075 7,571 7,887
Lamar, CO 1,644 1,722 1,897 1,840 1,936
La Junta, CO 7,475 6,809 7,264 6,653 6,566
Trinidad, CO 4,628 3,923 4,102 4,535 4,770
Raton, NM 15,037 15,066 18,025 16,794 16,292
Las Vegas, NM 4,280 4,456 4,491 4,952 5,653
Lamy, NM 13,976 13,012 13,056 12,579 12,589
Albuquerque, NM 72,434 67,751 71,848 75,779 78,324
Gallup, NM 12,517 12,340 13,431 14,433 16,446
Winslow, AZ 4,767 4,834 5,274 5,399 5,034
Flagstaff, AZ 39,723 36,582 41,775 41,252 41,014
Williams Junction, AZ 8,199 6,341 7,642 7,646 7,487
Kingman, AZ 10,322 9,537 10,160 10,944 10,768
Needles, CA 8,093 8,225 9,481 8,840 9,118
Barstow, CA 3,334 3,531 3,609 3,870 3,443
Victorville, CA 4,904 5,078 5,558 6,488 6,764
San Bernardino, CA 10,092 9,161 10,080 10,552 11,554
Riverside, CA 9,399 9,769 10,806 11,679 12,197
Fullerton, CA* 443,953 417,649 411,489 436,383 310,694
Los Angeles, CA* 1,582,364 1,475,920 1,517,342 1,606,121 1,657,446
Stations noted with an asterisk (*) are served by more than one Amtrak train (more than one train per day in each direction).
Source: Great American Stations website.

Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited
Station 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Chicago, IL* 3,104,151 3,080,564 3,288,054 3,393,695 3,483,313
Joliet, IL* 43,087 45,749 53,322 54,668 63,102
Pontiac, IL* 12,642 13,462 15,478 13,824 14,429
Bloomington-Normal, IL* 180,589 192,682 209,629 244,566 239,931
Lincoln, IL* 20,703 21,431 23,723 17,541 22,473
Springfield, IL* 157,540 170,550 190,172 159,444 192,216
Carlinville, IL* 10,261 10,200 11,364 7,831 10,557
Alton, IL* 53,741 57,974 64,674 50,220 63,027
St. Louis, MO* 271,997 278,778 321,629 310,859 353,696
Poplar Bluff, MO 4,631 4,170 4,688 5,488 5,938
Walnut Ridge, AR 4,057 3,785 4,565 4,311 4,766
Little Rock, AR 19,724 19,731 22,218 23,336 24,036
Malvern, AR 1,716 1,702 1,833 1,750 2,105
Arkadelphia, AR 1,480 1,365 1,486 1,574 1,602
Texarkana, AR 6,972 6,681 7,867 8,646 8,849
Marshall, TX 7,406 6,988 8,709 9,021 10,025
Longview, TX 27,920 28,828 34,033 35,469 49,126
Mineola, TX 4,376 4,952 6,568 7,165 6,956
Dallas, TX 35,860 39,592 47,053 54,498 55,764
Fort Worth, TX* 109,012 104,107 118,199 128,894 141,696
Cleburne, TX 2,135 2,455 3,130 3,590 4,536
McGregor, TX 3,141 4,238 4,240 4,644 4,988
Temple, TX 12,914 15,163 15,426 16,471 17,856
Taylor, TX 3,981 3,908 4,551 4,752 4,979
Austin, TX 23,829 25,404 31,968 39,167 41,638
San Marcos, TX 3,741 4,339 5,283 6,555 7,294
New Orleans, LA* 154,532 157,574 200,249 210,465 222,828
Schreiver, LA 1,029 1,072 1,292 1,383 1,755
New Iberia, LA 1,181 1,270 1,250 1,667 1,670
Lafayette, LA 3,835 4,606 6,122 6,295 5,969
Lake Charles, LA 2,200 2,716 2,909 3,127 3,438
Beaumont, TX 1,662 1,769 2,135 2,401 2,724
Houston, TX 14,891 16,191 18,351 19,637 20,327
San Antonio, TX* 48,151 48,804 58,131 67,168 70,164
Del Rio, TX 1,665 1,849 1,881 2,242 2,175
Sanderson, TX 153 205 216 344 255
Alpine, TX 3,519 3,497 3,862 4,322 4,416
El Paso, TX 9,605 9,397 10,415 11,470 12,329
Deming, NM 812 844 869 1,047 1,170
Lordsburg, NM 393 404 472 510 483
Benson, AZ 1,064 1,098 1,091 1,208 1,367
Tucson, AZ 14,780 18,031 21,095 23,340 23,896
Maricopa, AZ 6,393 7,662 8,764 9,819 10,804
Yuma, AZ 3,057 3,689 3,676 3,386 4,011
Palm Springs, CA 8,160 5,916 6,061 5,897 4,945
Ontario, CA 3,590 4,415 4,756 5,422 5,185
Pomona, CA 1,588 1,764 1,523 1,517 1,614
Los Angeles, CA* 1,582,364 1,475,920 1,517,342 1,606,121 1,657,446
Stations noted with an asterisk (*) are served by more than one Amtrak train (more than one train per day in each direction).
Source: Great American Stations website.
Ridership at Longview and Dallas higher than actual as a bus bridge between the two stations (due to Union Pacific maintenance work) was registered at these stations for through passengers using the bus.



CarterB wrote:For comparisons..here's the Builder past few years by station:
vermontanan wrote:Amtrak station-by-station ridership, October 1-September 30, by fiscal year:

Empire Builder

Station
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012

Chicago, IL*
3,104,151
3,080,564
3,288,054
3,393,695
3,483,313

Glenview, IL*
65,769
66,962
66,629
70,494
71,827

Milwaukee, WI*
565,009
553,475
588,617
617,800
632,078

Columbus, WI
18,617
17,338
18,025
15,473
16,259

Portage, WI
7,453
6,965
7,483
6,115
6,747

Wisconsin Dells, WI
13,288
13,549
13,609
14,265
13,543

Tomah, WI
10,147
10,225
10,892
9,715
10,775

La Crosse, WI
31,221
30,569
31,666
28,414
28,872

Winona, MN
26,351
24,886
27,124
23,928
24,458

Red Wing, MN
10,584
10,642
10,691
8,956
10,289

St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
147,791
133,674
128,658
116,785
120,515

St. Cloud, MN
14,206
11,952
12,459
10,614
13,740

Staples, MN
8,606
6,269
5,157
5,961
7,931

Detroit Lakes, MN
4,659
4,522
4,792
3,917
4,602

Fargo, ND
24,142
21,514
21,286
16,968
20,304

Grand Forks, ND
22,842
17,928
19,751
17,201
20,271

Devils Lake, ND
6,860
5,740
6,148
4,569
5,505

Rugby, ND
7,048
5,906
6,409
6,106
7,057

Minot, ND
42,801
39,136
40,360
29,179
37,169

Stanley, ND
3,694
3,921
4,549
6,146
10,234

Williston, ND
23,619
21,793
24,586
29,920
54,324

Wolf Point, MT
8,280
7,457
6,970
6,059
8,023

Glasgow, MT
6,351
5,749
6,075
4,370
5,563

Malta, MT
4,095
3,611
3,372
2,934
3,466

Havre, MT
17,759
16,928
16,077
14,007
14,198

Shelby, MT
18,881
15,972
16,534
13,358
15,501

Cut Bank, MT
3,455
2,931
3,363
2,985
3,236

Browning, MT (seasonal)
2,269
1,975
1,884
1,834
2,171

East Glacier Park, MT (seasonal)
15,759
13,146
17,652
11,950
14,886

Essex, MT
4,941
4,280
4,746
3,568
3,354

West Glacier Park, MT
7,396
6,644
7,895
5,018
6,175

Whitefish, MT
72,207
62,492
66,813
57,823
66,614

Libby, MT
6,062
5,393
5,342
5,072
6,626

Sandpoint, ID
6,181
5,675
5,606
5,296
8,815

Spokane, WA
53,196
47,891
50,279
46,798
62,773

Ephrata, WA
4,178
3,941
3,543
3,063
3,874

Wenatchee, WA
19,275
17,519
16,912
13,664
15,895

Leavenworth, WA (effective 09/25/09)

80
9,574
8,028
12,751

Everett, WA*
44,514
42,982
45,449
42,288
44,756

Edmonds, WA*
30,876
31,225
32,668
30,472
32,896

Seattle, WA*
617,067
615,735
677,953
672,485
672,351

Pasco, WA
26,517
25,006
25,891
22,598
25,535

Wishram, WA
1,865
1,400
1,580
2,128
1,567

Bingen-White Salmon, WA
2,908
2,825
3,245
2,420
3,147

Vancouver, WA*
97,026
99,086
100,979
99,901
99,363

Portland, OR*
598,633
618,131
672,608
665,677
668,823




Stations noted with an asterisk (*) are served by more than one Amtrak train (more than one train per day in each direction).

No service at Minot from October 1, 2011 to mid-November, 2011 (FY2012).
  by vermontanan
 
Tadman wrote:I advocate for replacing the Builder with a SEA-SPK 1/day and a CHI-MSP 3/day. That said, if the LD is to remain, how about a reroute over the NP from MSP to Sandpoint? You'd at least hit a lot more population centers.
Where do you live along the Empire Builder route (or where did you live), or what other research, knowledge or experience do you possess to advocate such a thing?
  by vermontanan
 
TomNelligan wrote:I can't comment knowledgeably about the local markets for rail travel in North Dakota and Montana, but from a scenery standpoint the climb westbound out of Butte on the Northern Pacific route was spectacular, especially when viewed from a traditional Budd dome car. I'd love to have a chance to ride it again.
The North Coast Hiawatha route was scenic. The climb out of Butte was east over Homestake Pass, not west. The rails over Homestake are still in, but the line has been out of service for 30 years, and likely wlll never be used again. The North Coast Hiawatha study is available at the Amtrak website and documents the cost (over $1 billion, and since this included only a minimal amount for stations, it was low) of reviving the train. So, chances of revival are zero. I suggest that only when we lobby to get additional frequencies on long distance routes that will increase ridership, but not have a corresponding increase in cost (in other words, additional trains would use the same station and servicing facilities, and many of the same maintenance and station personnel) will long distance trains become so accepted that we can entertain expanding service along routes such as the North Coast Hiawatha line. But asking for a billion dollars to start a new service? Won't happen...ever. Has to begin incrementally, and be built on what we have now. The long distance network is skeletal, but at least it exists and it's a start.
  by neroden
 
vermontanan wrote:
TomNelligan wrote:I can't comment knowledgeably about the local markets for rail travel in North Dakota and Montana, but from a scenery standpoint the climb westbound out of Butte on the Northern Pacific route was spectacular, especially when viewed from a traditional Budd dome car. I'd love to have a chance to ride it again.
The North Coast Hiawatha route was scenic. The climb out of Butte was east over Homestake Pass, not west. The rails over Homestake are still in, but the line has been out of service for 30 years, and likely wlll never be used again. The North Coast Hiawatha study is available at the Amtrak website and documents the cost (over $1 billion, and since this included only a minimal amount for stations, it was low) of reviving the train. So, chances of revival are zero. I suggest that only when we lobby to get additional frequencies on long distance routes that will increase ridership, but not have a corresponding increase in cost (in other words, additional trains would use the same station and servicing facilities, and many of the same maintenance and station personnel) will long distance trains become so accepted that we can entertain expanding service along routes such as the North Coast Hiawatha line. But asking for a billion dollars to start a new service? Won't happen...ever. Has to begin incrementally, and be built on what we have now. The long distance network is skeletal, but at least it exists and it's a start.
I would expect that if Montana ever gets a government which is truly serious about passenger rail, it might be able to bring back something along the North Coast Hiawatha route through Montana. Montana seems to be the state with the most *interest*, while the most *costs* in bringing back the train are in North Dakota (due to the competition from coal and oil traffic). But it's going to be strictly a state-funded process if it happens, and the state isn't ready.
  by Station Aficionado
 
A little historical detour to give some context to this thread. Up until A-Day, Montana and North Dakota still had pretty decent passenger service (certainly in extent and, from what I have read, in quality). There were two trains on the GN route (the High Line) and two on the NP route. On the GN, the EB went via the Surrey Cutoff, and the Western Star via Grand Forks, where it was met by a connecting train to/from Winnipeg. (Interestingly, when Amtrak’s original routes were being determined, BN (!) recommended continuing the service to Winnipeg). In Montana, there was an RDC connecting Havre to Great Falls. On the NP, the North Coast Ltd. went via Butte, the Mainstreeter via Helena. And UP’s Butte Special still trundled up from Salt Lake City three times a week. When Amtrak’s routes were announced and there was no service on the NP, Montana’s congressional delegation tried to block the formation of Amtrak. They failed, but the North Coast Hiawatha came along shortly after A-Day, and continued until the Carter cuts in 1979. Ever since, the Congressional delegations, and state governments of both Montana and North Dakota have been fierce advocates for the Builder.
  by mtuandrew
 
I can see why it is so important to MT and ND! I suggest they get on the horn to BNSF, whose projected costs are somewhere near 4/5 of the $1 billion startup costs.

Also, a train to Winnipeg would be a very nice thing, both for Amtrak passengers and for VIA to have another eastbound option.
  by vermontanan
 
mtuandrew wrote:I can see why it is so important to MT and ND! I suggest they get on the horn to BNSF, whose projected costs are somewhere near 4/5 of the $1 billion startup costs.
Montana and North Dakota already receive about $1.50 from the federal government for every dollar their taxpayers send to Washington, so they need to step up and put up some of their own money as many other states have done. And if any states could afford to do something, it would be these two, as both have a budget surplus. It's unlikely that either or both states could actually put up the money themselves to reinstate the North Coast Hiawatha. But look at Vermont and the federal help it has received because it sponsored and participated in its own rail passenger service. I would suggest that Montana and North Dakota show their commitment to rail passenger service initially by funding upgrades along the Empire Builder route which already exists. For instance, station enhancements and more parking is needed at the oil boom stops of Minot, Stanley, and Williston. Culbertson, Montana, halfway between the stops of Williston and Wolf Point would be an ideal new Empire Builder stop to tap business as the oil boom moves west (and is on highway 16, a main north-south highway). A station still exists, but Amtrak doesn't have the money to make it accessible to passengers or build a new platform. This is something the state of Montana should promote in the cause of economic development and to enchance scarce transportation options for local residents. Next, how about purchasing a couple of new cars (or fixing bad order ones Amtrak can't afford to fix) specifically to add capacity to the Empire Builder during the summer when it's needed? There are lots of things that could be done that would show the states are worthy of federal money (should it be available) for additional routes. But so far, both states are not worthy. They' re just asking for $1 billion from someone else for another train.
mtuandrew wrote: Also, a train to Winnipeg would be a very nice thing, both for Amtrak passengers and for VIA to have another eastbound option.
[/quote]

It would be nice, but would be impractical. Current track speed (beyond Grand Forks) is slow (no signals), and sidings are none. Then, probably like the debacle at Niagara Falls, trains (especially the southward/eastward one, entering the United States) would spend an hour or more at the border for a customs inspection. Nice, but not worth the cost. Instead, add service to the existing route to vastly increase revenue with minimal additional cost. A second train between Chicago and Grand Forks departing both locations in the early morning could open up many new travel markets and complement Empire Builder service - all with no new stations, minimal staffing cost or track infrastructure cost, especially compared to a completely new route, like to Winnipeg.
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