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Amtrak, BNSF discuss Southwest Chief route's future


Earlier this week, Amtrak and BNSF Railway Co. officials met with representatives of communities in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico to discuss the Southwest Chief route that operates daily between Chicago and Los Angeles via western Kansas, southeastern Colorado and northern New Mexico.

In the meeting, Amtrak officials explained how changing freight traffic patterns mean BNSF's remaining needs can be met with reduced track speeds, making the line unsuitable for through passenger service. Funding to maintain and improve track will be needed in coming years for the Southwest Chief to continue to serve the current route, Amtrak officials said in a prepared statement.

Amtrak and BNSF officials also discussed several funding and public action ideas. Both railroads are committed to work with the affected communities to find a solution and both believe the current route is the best option for the Southwest Chief, Amtrak officials said.

“Many communities and others have made investments in their stations and in otherwise supporting the service — and those efforts are recognized and appreciated,” they said.

However, if decisions aren’t made and financial commitments aren’t in place by the end of 2014, steps will be necessary to operate the Southwest Chief via a different route between Newton, Kan., and Albuquerque by early 2016, Amtrak officials added.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/13/2012