Apr 12, 2010 2:50 PM by Melissa Canone
WASHINGTON - Passengers riding on Amtrak's Sunset Limited long-distance train between New Orleans and Los Angeles can now download a podcast which provides an interpretive tour of the communities and regions through which they are traveling. Amtrak, the National Park Service, and the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University partnered on the podcast project. The podcast can be found at AmtrakRailGuide.com [cid:image003.jpg@01CADA4D.36098150] and is now available for download at no charge.
Covering the 2,000 miles and 22 Amtrak station stops of the Sunset Limited route, the podcast includes 100 three-minute points of interest. They include points of interest on history, attractions and natural features seen along the route. Topics range from the Creole culture of Louisiana to the history of the oil industry in south Texas to the Mexican cuisine of New Mexico. Interested passengers should download the podcast prior to boarding the train.
"We are excited to provide passengers the opportunity for a self-guided tour of one of America's great railroad journeys," said Emmett Fremaux, Amtrak's vice president of marketing and product development, noting podcasts for other long-distance routes are being considered.
The Sunset Limited podcast is the result of a desire to enhance the Trails & Rails program - an innovative partnership between Amtrak and the National Park Service through which
National Park Service Rangers and volunteers board trains and give interactive presentations on the history, cultural background and current attractions of the regions seen from the train. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Trails & Rails program has expanded from four Amtrak routes in 2000 to 12 today.
"The National Park Service Trails and Rails Program is pleased to be a partner on the production of a podcast for the Sunset Limited route," said David Vela, regional director,
National Park Service, Southeast Region. "The podcast will provide travelers with a valuable tool that will help enhance their understanding and experiences as they travel through some of our nation's special places while on the Sunset Limited."
"We deeply value our unique partnership with the National Park Service Trails and Rails Program and Amtrak," said Gary D. Ellis, PhD, head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences of Texas A&M University and AgriLife Extension Service. "Through our partnership, Aggies gain unparalleled learning experiences in real-world learning about heritage interpretation."
The podcast points of interest were researched and written by National Park Service staff as well as students and faculty of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University. The team from Texas A&M included 60 undergraduate and three graduate students, all studying the use of natural resources for recreation and tourism.
The Sunset Limited podcast points of interest are available as MP3files. In addition, a downloadable printed version is available for the hearing impaired, educators or any others who prefer a printed copy.
As the nation's intercity passenger rail operator, Amtrak connects America in safer, greener and healthier ways. Last fiscal year (FY 2009), the railroad carried 27.2 million passengers, making it the second-best year in the company's history. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day-at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph)-to more than 500 destinations. Amtrak also is the operator of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for several commuter rail agencies. Visit Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.
About the Trails & Rails Program, National Park Service
Trails & Rails is an innovative partnership program between the National Park Service and Amtrak. This program provides rail passengers with educational opportunities that foster an appreciation of a selected region's natural and cultural heritage. It promotes National Park Service areas and provides a value-added service to encourage train ridership. It also renews the long tradition of associating railroads with National Parks. For more detailed information on the various Trails & Rails programs, please visit www.nps.gov/trailsandrails.
About the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University
The goals of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (RPTS) are to generate and disseminate new and existing knowledge concerning the development, management, and sustainable use of natural resources for recreation and tourism. This is achieved through an integration of research-based approaches to undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education that includes the social and policy sciences and natural resource management disciplines. The Department offers undergraduate and graduate RPTS degrees with emphasis in park and recreation administration, natural resource management and policy analysis, and tourism resources development. For more information, please log onto www.rpts.tamu.edu.