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This week, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman is riding a special train from Topeka, Kan., to Albuquerque, N.M., to meet with state and local officials regarding the future of Amtrak's Southwest Chief service between Newton, Kan., and Albuquerque.Kansas Secretary of Transportation Mike King and BNSF Railway Co. Executive Chairman Matt Rose also will ride the train during portions of the whistle-stop tour. Since 2012, Amtrak officials have held discussions with transportation leaders in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico about the pending downgrades to the route, which is owned by BNSF. Amtrak has proposed a plan to maintain the route for daily passenger service and share the capital investment with BNSF and the three states. Without an agreement in place, Southwest Chief service could be threatened by 2016, when diminished capital investment might result in passenger trains operating at unacceptable speeds in western Kansas, southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico, Amtrak officials said. Due to track layouts, direct service to Albuquerque also could be impacted.
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