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Amtrak ridership up in N.D.

More and more North Dakotans are taking the train, according to Amtrak's yearly report on ridership. In North Dakota, more than 131,000 rode Amtrak's Empire Builder rail line the past fiscal year, which ended Sept. 20. That's a 9.5 percent increa...

More and more North Dakotans are taking the train, according to Amtrak's yearly report on ridership.

In North Dakota, more than 131,000 rode Amtrak's Empire Builder rail line the past fiscal year, which ended Sept. 20. That's a 9.5 percent increase from 2007, when 119,586 Amtrak rides were logged in the state.

There's been a steady increase in ridership nationwide over the past six years, according to Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. Nationally, Amtrak set an all-time record with a total of 28.7 million riders.

"People are turning to us after seeing the higher costs of driving their own cars and trucks," he said.

The upward trend shows just how important the service is to North Dakota, said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

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"There are some in the administration and Congress who would be content to shut down all of Amtrak's long-distance lines and let the trains run up and down the eastern seaboard. But that makes no sense," he said in a press release.

The Senate voted Oct. 1 to continue to fund the passenger rail service that serves seven North Dakota communities. The Empire Builder connects Chicago and Seattle, with North Dakota stops in Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Rugby, Minot, Stanley and Williston.

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