HELENA - Empire Builder, the Amtrak passenger route that services northern Montana, is set to return to daily service beginning May 23.
Amtrak had reduced the route in January from daily to five days a week citing “staffing challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the highly active Omicron variant.”
Empire Builder is a long-distance Amtrak route with trains that travels between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. It services several Montana communities in northern Montana including Whitefish.
Sen. Jon Tester praised the announcement on Monday.
“This announcement is long overdue, and it’s great news for folks living on the Hi-Line who depend on daily Amtrak service to support our state’s rural economies and to stay connected to family and friends. I’ve been fighting to defend Montana from attempts to cripple Amtrak service in rural America, and I have been proud to lead the fight to return full, daily service to our state, which will grow our economy along our Northern Tier.”
Last September, an Amtrak derailment on the route happened near Joplin, killing three people and injuring 44 others. Amtrak estimated damages at $22 million. The investigation by NTSB is ongoing.