Holiday travelers look to Amtrak to avoid traffic delays

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Thanksgiving travel is forecasted to reach a nearly 20-year high in 2019, according to American Automobile Association. But not everyone is taking to the skies and the roads.

Most of the people coming and going on from the Sacramento Valley Amtrak Station Monday morning seemed to be regular commuters, but some holiday travelers have already hit the rails.

"I don’t want to be on the freeway today," said Amtrak traveler Paul Nicknig. "The holiday traffic I'm sure is going to be picking up. So we chose the train, easy jaunt down there to Emeryville station."

Nicknig and Natasha Chornomaz actually started their journey in Denver and Nicknig said, even Saturday, he could see the airport traffic picking up.

Traffic that has continued at Sacramento International Airport at 4:30 a.m. Monday.

Nearly 4.5 million Americans will fly to their destination this Thanksgiving, according to AAA, a more than 4.5% increase over last year. Add that to the more than 49 million drivers on the road, and a train sounds a lot better to Chornomaz.

"It’s super convenient. It’s nice to not be stuck in traffic, having to constantly watch the road," said Chornomaz.

That doesn't mean travelers will have the tracks all to themselves if last year’s Amtrak traffic is any indication.

Amtrak Marketing Manager David Lapari predicted Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday to be the busiest Amtrak travel days, but said some tickets are still available.

"Here in Sacramento alone, on Wednesday we saw over 56% increase in travel and on Sunday a 34% increase in traffic," Lapari said.

And unlike plane tickets, the prices do not increase as the departure date approaches.

"It’s also super flexible because we missed our train but we can just change our tickets," Chornomaz said.

However, not every route is as direct as Nicknig and Chornomaz’s path to the Bay Area. Some involve transfers and buses.

But where SMF recommends arriving two hours early, Sacramento Amtrak said arriving 45 minutes before your trip will be sufficient.

Overall, Lapari said train travel could make for less hassle this holiday.

"Letting us do the driving, having the opportunity to sit back and relax, and start your Thanksgiving holiday on the train is a good way to do it," Lapari said.

Amtrak advises purchasing tickets ahead of time. Travelers can purchase tickets on the Amtrak website or in person at a station.

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