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Builder back on track

By Staff | Jan 23, 2015

A pair of Amtrak employees eagerly stopped in Rugby on Jan. 15 to share the news of the Empire Builder Route running on schedule for the first time since April of 2014.

Derrick James, director of government affairs in the Midwest, and Marc Magliari, media relations manager, spoke with the mayor and other local leaders.

The Empire Builder route from Chicago to Seattle was seeing delays in North Dakota as BNSF updated sections of rail and never-ending crude oil trains cruised through. Riders between Grand Forks and Rugby often had to take buses before rejoining the train.

The train is back to leaving Rugby westward at 7:02 a.m. and eastward at 10:38 p.m.

“We have every reason to believe that the awful days of 2013 and 2014 are behind us,” Magliari said at a late lunch at Niewoehner Funeral Home.

Magliari was relieved to say the 10-hour delays that affected some North Dakota customers are over.

The men spoke of how ridership declined because of delays, but Amtrak is renovating historic stations along the route, increasing baggage cars and improving reliability, overall.

They praised Rugby for being an important town along the route and laughed about the popularity of the Geographical Center of America at the offices in Chicago.

Former Tribune editor Mark Carlson caught the attention of Amtrak when a headline described former Amtrak president Tom Downs as sleeping through a late-night greeting from the citizens of Rugby in the mid-1990s.

In 2014, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman greeting area citizens at the depot on Train Day.

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