WASHINGTON -- To mark its 30th anniversary Amtrak is marketing a promotion that provides agents with a special fare to sample the service on its trains. It also is providing fare discounts for their clients.

To celebrate, Amtrak is offering travel agents a $30 discount fare for traveling in coach on select train routes.

"We want to celebrate our birthday with those who've supported Amtrak throughout the years," said Barbara Richardson, Amtrak's executive vice president.

"We have really worked hard during the last year and a half to improve our relationship with travel agents. And the $30 [fare] is a gesture on our part to ask agents to give us another look and get a good look at what Amtrak is today," Richardson added.

The $30 promotional fare is good on Amtrak's Auto Train, Silver Service, Sunset Limited, Crescent, Carolinian, Piedmont and East Coast trains to Chicago with the exception of the Lake Shore Limited.

Also part of the promotion are the City of New Orleans, Texas Eagle, Kentucky Cardinal, Heartland Flyer, Coast Starlight, the Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquins and the Capitols in California and Midwest Corridor services.

"We really want and need the support of travel agents [in selling] our long-distance services because they require explanation and that's what agents do and that's so important to us," Richardson said. "They sit down [with clients] and explain the process."

Fares must be booked prior to June 15. Along with the travel agent discount, Amtrak is offering travelers a 30% discount off its regular fares, with some restrictions.

Amtrak is advertising the promotion in several major newspapers including USA Today, the Washington Post and the New York Times, as well as in travel trade publications.

"The 30% off is really a great kick-off point for the summer," Richardson said. "We know people are traveling a lot during summer, and we want them to get on board to see a lot of the improvements that have taken place at Amtrak."

Reservations must be made by June 15 for travel before Aug. 31. Amtrak noted that the offer cannot be reserved through the Internet, self-serve ticket machines or purchased on board trains.

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