CHICAGO (STMW) – Amtrak had a record-breaking Thanksgiving week, carrying more than 700,000 passengers, up 2.7 percent over last year, the national rail service announced on Wednesday.

Of the total of 704,446 passengers who rode the trains that week, 134,230 rode on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving – a new single-day record for the line.

Comparing Thanksgiving 2010 to Thanksgiving 2009, ridership was up 5.1 percent on state-supported trains and other short distance corridors, with strong growth in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, a release from Amtrak said.

The long-distance trains saw a 3.7 percent increase and on the Northeast Corridor, the high-speed Acela Express trains had a 12.9 percent increase, though ridership on the entire corridor dropped slightly.

In preparation for heavy passenger volume, Amtrak operated every available passenger car in its fleet and scheduled extra trains and/or added capacity to trains in the Northeast Corridor, the Chicago hub, the Pacific Northwest lines and in California, according to the release.

Some Amtrak routes that serve Chicago are:

— the California Zephyr, which saw Thanksgiving ridership fall from 9,236 in 2009 to 8.862 in 2010;
— the City of New Orleans, which saw ridership increase from 5,132 to 5,390;
— the Chicago to Seattle Empire Builder, whose 2009 ridership of 13,297 fell to 12,410;
— the Hiawatha, between Chicago and Milwaukee, whose ridership increased from 17,592 to 18,452;
— the Wolverine, between Chicago and Pontiac, Mich., which saw ridership go from 12,375 to 14,560; and
— the Chicago to St. Louis Lincoln Service, which went from 14,265 to 17,084.

The previous Thanksgiving ridership record was set in 2009 with 685,876 passengers.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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