Ceremony Saturday to welcome latest Amtrak Texas Eagle
By Mike Elswick
More than 500 people are expected to participate in Saturday's East Texas portion of an inaugural run of a fourth Amtrak Texas Eagle train going from Chicago to Los Angeles.
J.G. Hubbard, Longview Amtrak agent, said Monday that more than 500 people were already scheduled for the Marshall-to-Fort Worth segment of the route. Special ceremonies are set in Longview with the scheduled 12:50 p.m. arrival of the new train on Saturday.
Amtrak has been operating three north- and east-bound trains and three south- and west-bound trains a week through East Texas.
Hubbard said six extra cars are being added to the Saturday train that typically carries 12 cars. A special brief ceremony is set for the Longview Amtrak station after the passenger train arrives for a short stay to pick up and drop off passengers, he said.
The new train is expected to break through a banner welcoming dignitaries and passengers to Longview and then be welcomed with live entertainment and a brief speech.
"We hope to have a block party-type atmosphere, and everyone is invited," Hubbard said. The local festivities are being sponsored by Stroh Brewery and Jo-Dac Office Supply.
Hubbard said Stroh Brewery also is a sponsor of the route's big ceremony planned for Fort Worth on Saturday evening when the train arrives there after leaving Longview. Hubbard said Stroh was one of the first companies who used Amtrak's freight-shipping service and has been a big supporter of the service for some time.
Longview Mayor David McWhorter is scheduled to ride the train for a short period from Marshall to Longview, and U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin, D-Marshall, is scheduled to ride from Marshall to Mineola. Amtrak officials also have heard the governor of Arkansas may make part of the trip through Texas.
Entertainment and refreshments also will be provided on the train for those riding on its first run, Hubbard said. Among the entertainers will be Longview's country-western entertainer John Secord.
Hubbard said seats are still available for anyone wanting to make the first trip on the Saturday route of Texas Eagle to Los Angeles or points along the way. And, he added, Amtrak is running a special that allows a companion to travel free on trips through Feb. 28.
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