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Crowds Heed Amtrak’s ‘All Aboard’

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It looks like Aaron and Susan Donovan are just two of many that have recently replaced air travel with train travel. Daniel Machalaba of The Wall Street Journal reports on a significant increase in ridership on the passenger rail system over the last year, and the trend seems to be intensifying. Meanwhile, Amtrak has improved its service and its allies in Washington have noticed. The House recently passed a fiscal 2008 funding bill with $1.4 billion for Amtrak:

Airplanes are getting stuck in lots of traffic jams this summer, but Amtrak is on a roll.

Ridership on the passenger rail system is up 6% so far this year, the biggest jump since the late 1970s. On the Acela Express, trains that run at higher speeds between Washington, New York and Boston, the number of riders has surged 20% over the past 10 months. That's enough new passengers to fill 2,000 Boeing 757 jets.

Richard Rosen, who heads a pharmacy-fulfillment company in Boston, is making as many of his trips to New York as possible on the Acela.

Flying to New York, with traffic to and from La Guardia Airport, flight delays and security lines, has become "an absolute horror show," he says. A recent one-hour flight turned into four hours of exasperation. Mr. Rosen says the Acela, which takes about 3½ hours to get from Boston's Back Bay Station to Pennsylvania Station in midtown Manhattan, is more comfortable and reliable. "The train is much better, and you can do your work and use your cellphone during the whole trip," he says.

Photo: Elizabeth Homes, Getty Images

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