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Rail News: Passenger Rail
Rail Passengers Association honor senators for preserving Southwest route
The Rail Passengers Association (RPA) has presented a coalition of six U.S. senators with the Golden Spike Award for their efforts to save the Amtrak Southwest Chief corridor, the association announced yesterday.
The award was presented to U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
The senators were recognized "for the crucial role they played in saving the Southwest Chief train, and for their service to the tens of millions of Americans who depend on a national train network," Rail Passenger Association officials said in a press release.
The senators worked to stop a proposal to replace the rail service with a bus bridge service. An RPA study found that the Southwest Chief rail service generates $180 million in economic activity in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico annually, RPA officials said.
As a result of the lawmakers' efforts, the fiscal-year 2019 budget included a set-aside for preservation work on the corridor, and Amtrak reversed an earlier decision to withhold matching funding for a construction grant that will bring an additional $26 million in upgrades, according to the RPA.
"The nation’s rail passengers are exceptionally grateful to Senators Bennet, Gardner, Heinrich, Moran, Roberts and Udall for their actions to save the Southwest Chief, particularly those who live and work in Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado,” said RPA President Jim Mathews. "Thanks to their decisive work, we’ve seen a complete defeat of the proposal to replace the train with a bus bridge, and the communities that depend on the Southwest Chief can rest easy knowing the train’s future is on solid ground."
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.