Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states. An average of more than 69,000 passengers ride on up to 300 Amtrak trains per day. For those passengers, Amtrak prints and issues approximately 12 million to 15 million tickets per year.
When it came time to replace the rail service’s nearly seven-year-old ticket printers, Amtrak’s station sales support director, Mike Toczylowski, looked for equipment with simple operation that could be implemented quickly – less than three months after he issued the request for proposal.
With the small timeframe in mind, Intermec offered Amtrak one of its PF4ci printers for performance testing. The Amtrak ticketing work stations support almost a billion dollars of ticketing revenue annually, so a reliable ticket printing system is crucial.
“We ran the printer in our test lab and printed upwards of 20,000 coupons from a single printer,” Toczylowski said. “When testing, we basically try to break the equipment, but the printer performed to our specifications and was compatible with our ticketing system.”
The PF4ci provides much simpler and “slightly faster” printing compared with Amtrak’s old equipment, printing about five or six ticket coupons per minute. Satisfied with the PF4ci’s ease of use and performance, Toczylowski challenged Intermec to install the printers at every Amtrak station location across the United States and Canada in less than 90 days.
“It was fairly amazing,” Toczylowski said. “Intermec installed almost 500 printers at 230 ticketing locations inside our timeframe. And considering how stressful it was to install all the printers and train the employees so quickly, the Intermec team was really good and fun to work with.”
Like the Intermec team, the PF4ci is very accommodating. The printer can handle a variety of ticket stock without any field variation, which was particularly appealing to Toczylowski.
“We currently use 7mil ATB1 paper,” he said. “But we could still use this printer if we move into an environment where we no longer collect tickets, but instead scan tickets printed on 3.5 mil ATB stock. We call this ATB-thin. This is the paper commonly used for airline boarding passes. Intermec’s printers offer expandability and an expansion capacity, which we like to have in our toolbox.”
The PF4ci printers are also RFID upgradeable so if Amtrak chooses in the future, it could use the system to track baggage.
Toczylowski added that a preventative maintenance schedule keeps the printers working in “like-new” condition. A close working relationship with Intermec also keeps Amtrak’s ticket printers up and running.
“All Amtrak staff agrees that Intermec provides excellent service after the sale,” Toczylowski said. “We love doing business with Intermec. My Intermec sales rep frequently calls me and stops in to see how the printers are doing. I love the idea that he does that. I have never worked with a manufacturer that continued the business relationship. I find that really exceptional.”