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Lawmakers ask Amtrak to reconsider Toys for Tots train

Amtrak in March changed its guidelines affecting charter service, which will impact the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots train.
Photo – Marine Corps Reserve's Twitter account


Three members of Congress representing districts in New York have asked Amtrak to reconsider a plan to cancel a Marine Corps Toys for Tots train, which distributes donated toys to families in need during the Christmas season.

U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), John Faso (R-N.Y.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) last week wrote to Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson to request that the national passenger railroad reconsider new guidelines that would prevent the Toys for Tots train from making its annual trip.

The guidelines affect charter Amtrak trains.

"We are aware that Amtrak has established a new policy for the operation of charter trains and believe it has every right to do so. However, ending this important holiday charter service will negatively affect the neediest in our communities and discontinue a positive charitable action that has brought great recognition to Amtrak's reputation in the eyes of many," the letter stated.

According to a press release issued by Tonko's office, the new guidelines require that charter trains must operate on existing Amtrak routes; must not be one-time trips; must generate sufficient financial benefit for Amtrak to justify the use of its resources and assets; and are subject to a final written agreement signed by Amtrak and the commercial carrier customer.

"This holiday season would mark the 20th year of this longstanding and generous service. We have been deeply moved by the spirit of community and love for our children that are expressed through this program and we sincerely hope that the tremendous good it does will not be lost this holiday season," the lawmakers wrote.