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Train travel gains steam during busiest travel week of the year

Amtrak and Metro-North are gearing up for the crowds, which are expected to be 80% higher than two years ago.

NEW HAVEN, Conn — Thanksgiving week is one if not the busiest travel period of the year and that includes train service, which still has strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

Amtrak and Metro-North said they are excited to help customers travel safely and comfortably in reconnecting with friends and family, in many cases for the first time in a couple of years.

"Overall, we have about 70% ridership of where we are compared to 2019 fiscal year," said Jason Abrams, an Amtrak spokesperson.

They expect ridership this week to be about 80% of where it was two years ago.

"The busiest travel days tend to be today, Saturday and Sunday," Abrams said.

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Among Wednesday morning's riders was a man excited to be heading to the Big Apple.

"I rarely go to New York City and I have an opportunity to be in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade tomorrow," said Chris Martin of Ellington. "So, I’m going to take the train into Penn Station."

Martin said he’s going to be a balloon handler in the parade.

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A family from Arizona was on the same Amtrak train to Penn Station for the same reason.

"Since we're in Connecticut, we decided to check a thing off our bucket list and go watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade tomorrow morning," said Tiffany Anderson.

"We were going to do this trip in previous years, but we haven’t yet just because of COVID so it’s like the buildup is finally over and I’m so excited for it," said Holly Anderson, one of Tiffany's three children on the trip with her.

RELATED: Connecticut travelers not deterred by state's highest Thanksgiving week gas prices in eight years

One college student heading home to the Philadelphia area, with her extra sharp Shar-Pei pup, couldn’t wait to climb aboard the train.

"I’ve taken it a couple of times and I feel really rejuvenated every time I take it because I don’t like to drive," said Kat Mazur, a Wesleyan University graduate student. "I always feel like I’m gonna die when I drive."

As travelers hit the road - or the tracks in this case -  a reminder:

"Make sure you bring your mask because it’s still required, federal law, within stations and on trains as well," Abrams said.

As a way to promote train travel, Metro-North is offering tickets at off-peak prices on all trains through the rest of 2021.

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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