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Amtrak partners with VIA Rail to add seats for Thanksgiving travel in U.S.

Provision of Canadian equipment reflects spirit of the holiday to connect friends and family in hurricane-impacted Northeast

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - In an arrangement that reflects the spirit of Thanksgiving, Amtrak is partnering with its Canadian counterpart, VIA Rail Canada, who accepted to provide passenger rail cars to make additional seats available and allow more friends and family in the hurricane-impacted Northeast to connect over the holiday.

"VIA Rail has been a true partner, reaching out in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to offer its friendship and assistance in restoring mobility to the Northeast," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "Amtrak is grateful for their generosity and also appreciates the support of New York State DOT in this effort.  We know the more seats we have, the more people in the region we can bring together to share the holiday."

"VIA Rail is pleased to help Amtrak, a partner which the Corporation considers very important," said VIA Rail's President and CEO Marc Laliberté. "No one is safe from disasters, such as the one that occurred a few weeks ago in the New York area. This small gesture can make a huge difference. We had to find a way to show our solidarity with our partner."

The VIA Rail equipment being provided includes ten coach cars and two dome cars.  From Nov. 20 - 27, the Canadian equipment will be used on the New York state-supported Adirondack service operating between Albany-Rensselaer and Montreal.  This will allow some Amtrak equipment used on that route to be reassigned adding about 300 seats to trains operating on the Northeast Corridor during the holiday travel period and will result in an additional 60 seats being available on the Adirondack service.

"We're pleased to be part of this creative partnership to provide more seating on Amtrak trains on the Northeast Corridor during the busy Thanksgiving holiday," New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said.  "Loaning Amtrak trains from the Adirondack service makes up for some damaged by Hurricane Sandy and helps Amtrak meet its increased ridership levels."

VIA Rail and Amtrak have a long-standing partnership and jointly transport passengers across the U.S. - Canadian border, facilitating train transfers between New York and Toronto, New York and Montreal, and Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, B.C.

Thanksgiving is the busiest travel period of the year for Amtrak and America's Railroad® is prepared to accommodate additional passengers with extra trains scheduled in the Northeast Corridor, the Chicago hub, the Pacific Northwest and in California. Amtrak will use every available passenger rail car in its fleet and will operate its special holiday schedule in the Northeast as repairs have been made following Hurricane Sandy.

More than 724,000 passengers traveled on Amtrak trains for the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2011, the most ever for the holiday.

Specifically, the VIA Rail equipment includes eight coach cars in the 8100-8147 series, two coach cars in the 4100-4125 series and two dome cars, the Tweedsmuir Park and the Evangeline Park.

About Amtrak®

Amtrak is America's Railroad®, the nation's intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator.  A record 31.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2012 on more than 300 daily trains - at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) - that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates intercity trains in partnership with 15 states and contracts with 13 commuter rail agencies to provide a variety of services.  Enjoy the journey® at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.  Join us on facebook.com/Amtrak and follow us at twitter.com/Amtrak.

About VIA Rail Canada

As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's (www.viarail.ca) mandate is to provide safe, efficient, cost-effective passenger transportation in the country's two official languages.  VIA operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across in 12,500-kilometer route network.  Recipient of the RAC's Safety Award in 2012 for the 11th time in 12 years, and of the 2012 Agent's Choice Award voted on by Canadian travel agents and presented by Baxter Travel Media, VIA safely transports over four million passengers annually.  Since 2007, the Government of Canada has provided VIA Rail with nearly one billion dollars in capital investment funding.  Follow the evolution of current project at viarail.ca/TransformerVIA.

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