Amtrak adds Michigan/Chicago service for Thanksgiving holiday


Amtrak operates three routes in Michigan. Photo via

Amtrak announced today that it is adding beefed-up service between Michigan and Chicago in anticipation of increased holiday travel.

Amtrak will offer two additional eastbound and one additional westbound Wolverine Service trains between Chicago and Kalamazoo/Ann Arbor on Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving. The carrier also will operate two additional round trips daily between Chicago and Kalamazoo/Ann Arbor on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 23-25. In addition, Amtrak will operate every available passenger rail car in its fleet and is scheduling extra trains to accommodate additional passengers in the Northeast, Midwest and on the West Coast.

Ordinarily, Amtrak offers three daily round trips through Ann Arbor and four daily round trips through Kalamazoo.

The company suggested that travelers looking to avoid some of the holiday chaos should consider booking their seats on less-busy days, which it said are the Monday before or the Friday and Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday. These dates also offer the best chance at ticket availability and pricing options.

Last year was Amtrak’s ninth year of record-breaking ridership in 10 years. The company noted that more than 724,000 passengers traveled on Amtrak trains for the Thanksgiving holiday in 2011 — the most ever for the holiday. It also said that it carried more than 31.2 million passengers in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, marking its highest-ever ridership.

The reason for the increase, according to Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari, is the increasing hassle of alternate transportation options, including high gas prices, airport delays, increased traffic volume and additional fares for baggage and seat choices.

Currently, Amtrak does not charge for baggage or for seat preferences, and travelers are allowed two carry-on bags and one personal item.

Magliari does encourage holiday passengers to arrive early, saying that the stations will be more crowded and that less experienced train travelers might take more time at the station. He did note that this year Amtrak is introducing e-ticketing and smartphone boarding pass options to help travelers save time.

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