Trainspotter 0 Posted November 14, 2007 Share #1 Posted November 14, 2007 Amtrak's Acela takes on new character By SUMMER HARLOW, The News Journal Wednesday, November 14, 2007 Last year, it was Pokémon. Before that, Yahoo. [float=right][/float]Next week, it's the faces of Martin Luther King Jr., Bob Dylan, Richard Nixon and Robert F. Kennedy that will be zipping through Delaware on the side of a train. Perennially cash-strapped Amtrak has found a new way to generate revenue -- by turning an entire train into a moving billboard. Starting Monday and running through Dec. 9, an Acela Express train running between Boston and Washington will be wrapped in an advertisement for the History Channel's two-hour special "1968 with Tom Brokaw," which is set to air Dec. 9. While this is the first Acela train to be wrapped in advertising, it's not the first time Amtrak has ventured into such creative marketing, spokeswoman Karina Romero said. Regional trains that run up and down the Northeast Corridor have been selling ad space on the sides of the locomotives and cars for several years now, she said. "We were looking for revenue sources other than ticket revenues, and this makes sense for us and makes sense for advertisers," Romero said. "Especially in Delaware, where I-95 parallels Amtrak so you can see the train pass." Amtrak isn't releasing how much revenue the ads are bringing in, Romero said. The History Channel's ad will "wrap" around both sides of the train's six cars and two locomotives, Romero said. Posters advertising Brokaw's program also will appear inside the train. Amtrak has proceeded somewhat cautiously when it comes to train wraps because it won't accept just any advertiser, said Steve Feder, president of Corporate Image Media, which helps Amtrak market advertising opportunities. The History Channel is something that would appeal to the business traveler that the Acela service is aimed at, he said. Still, Romero said, Amtrak always is open to any advertising that is a "good fit." Last September, a Washington-Boston regional train carried Pokémon advertising, coinciding with the release of a new DVD, Romero said. Congress has been urging Amtrak, which loses hundreds of millions of dollars each year and relies on federal subsidies, to come up with new ways of generating revenue. Ticket revenues in Amtrak's busy Northeast Corridor -- from Washington to Boston -- jumped 12 percent in the 2006 fiscal year to $1.37 billion, but ridership actually dropped 1.6 percent. In total, Amtrak earned about $2.05 billion in 2006 -- not enough to cover the $3.07 billion in expenses. The Northeast Corridor line is the nation's busiest, with more than 1,700 trains operating on some portion of the corridor each day. About 90 trains a day come through Delaware. In 2006, Wilmington was the 11th-busiest station. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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