U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich
U.S. SENATE News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) led a bipartisan group of senators from states spanning the country in urging Amtrak to uphold its side of a longstanding public-private partnership to continue operating the Southwest Chief passenger train and long-distance passenger service, particularly through rural communities.
The Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles and connects towns and cities in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Heinrich, along with U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) sent a letter today to Amtrak President and CEO Richard H. Anderson expressing their deep concern that Amtrak is considering suspending operation of the Southwest Chief passenger train and is focusing on a plan to replace long-distance train service along the route with bus service.
“Long-distance passenger rail routes provide much-needed transportation access for over four million riders in 325 communities in 40 States. Replacing train service through rural communities with buses is troubling, particularly for a quasi-governmental entity entrusted with an important public transportation mission.
The suspension of rail service along the Southwest Chief route raises serious questions as to whether passenger rail service will be eliminated in rural communities across the country,” the Senators wrote.
In many cases, the line is the only affordable alternative transportation option to the highways, and is a critical link to public and private services in larger cities along the route for rural residents. The Southwest Chief stops in several New Mexico communities, including Raton, Las Vegas, Lamy, Albuquerque and Gallup.
Every summer, the Southwest Chief transports thousands of Boy Scouts from across the country to Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, generating economic activity for businesses in these rural areas along the way.
The full text of the letter is below and available here.