Amtrak’s Empire Builder set to reduce train service to Minot from 7 days to 3
Empire Builder to reduce Minot service
Amtrak announced it would be happening and soon it will be a reality. The famed Empire Builder passenger train that has long had seven-day service to Minot and other points in the state is about to cut four days out of the schedule.
Several Amtrak routes in the United States were cut to three-day service, as expected, on Oct. 1. The Empire Builder route is scheduled to see a reduced passenger schedule starting Oct. 19. That means Minot and other stops for daily westbound and eastbound Empire Builder trains will be a thing of the past.
Amtrak says Minot’s Empire Builder is going to be rescheduled with westbound trains departing from Chicago on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and eastbound trains departing from Seattle on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Minot is not alone in the cuts. Several months ago Amtrak warned that it would be suspending daily service on long-distance routes to more than 220 communities in the U.S.
North Dakota stops are Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Rugby, Minot, Stanley and Williston.
The cuts in daily service, says Amtrak, could be restored next summer if there is enough increase in demand to warrant a change. Amtrak, which has been losing money for several years and the recipient of government funding to keep train routes fully active, has seen a decline in ridership in recent years. The pandemic of this year has added to the railroad’s woes. Only a handful of passengers got off the Empire Builder in Minot Thursday morning.
Amtrak’s website says Empire Builder passengers will “experience the splendor of the American West” and “travel over the spectacular Gassman Coulee Trestle” located West of Minot.
In addition to reducing service on many routes throughout the country, Amtrak has been cutting its work force as well. The announced goal earlier this year was that Amtrak would be cutting up to twenty percent of its personnel by October.
Currently the westbound Empire Builder stops in Minot each morning about 8:30 and the eastbound arrives about 9:30 p.m.