News: US rail network runs out of steam

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The Independent Travel

America's national railroad enterprise, Amtrak, comprehensively changes its schedules from 1 November - mostly for the worse. The nationalised corporation is losing a fortune, and pruning the network is seen as a good way to stem losses.

America's national railroad enterprise, Amtrak, comprehensively changes its schedules from 1 November - mostly for the worse. The nationalised corporation is losing a fortune, and pruning the network is seen as a good way to stem losses.

The Pennsylvanian, which runs between New York and Pittsburgh, is to be axed. It is still possible to travel between the two cities by rail, but there will no longer be a through-service with sleeping cars.

One of America's historic routes, the Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and Boston, is to be cut back. The service will operate from Chicago only as far as Albany, where passengers will have to change trains.

Rail services in Florida are to be reduced: a number of smaller cities lose their trains, which are replaced by buses. Further north, there is some good news: Acela Express trains are to speed up between New York and Boston by up to 10 minutes.

Finally, the life of the travelling smoker in America is to get even tougher. Smoking is to be banned on almost all trains, the exceptions being Auto Train (the American version of Motorail) between Florida and the north-east US. However, long station stops permit a chance to smoke.

* Canada's main train operator, VIA (001 888 842 7245; www.viarail.ca) is celebrating the centenary of the Ocean train between Montreal and Halifax with a half-price sale. Between now and the end of February, the 20-hour journey is available for C$214 return - less than £100 for 1,680 miles of rail travel.

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