A bi-partisan amendment that maintains a key train service in the state of Kansas easily passed through the United States Senate in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
U.S. Senators Jerry Moran’s (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) amendment to maintain Amtrak train services along the established, long-distance passenger rail route of the Southwest Chief, #3665, was today included in the 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill that passed the Senate on 92-6 vote. The amendment was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), all senators who represent states through which the critical Southwest Chief route runs.
This amendment would provide resources for maintenance and safety improvements along the Southwest Chief route and would compel Amtrak to fulfill its promise of matching funding for the successful TIGER IX discretionary grant supported by the Kansas Department of Transportation and local communities along the route. In addition, this amendment would effectively reverse Amtrak’s decision to substitute rail service with bus service over large segments of the route through FY2019.
“As the divide between urban and rural communities in America continues to expand, passenger rail services like the Southwest Chief are invaluable in connecting Kansans to the rest of the country while also bringing visitors from out of state to our local communities,” said Sen. Moran. “I applaud the bipartisan efforts to keep the Southwest Chief operational for our rural communities and will continue working with Amtrak to make certain this route remains available for the Kansans who need it.”
Sen. Roberts, who cosponsored the bill, was also pleased about the easy passage through senate approval.
“I am pleased the Senate has approved our amendment to ensure continuous rail service on all long distance routes, especially the Southwest Chief,” said Sen. Roberts. “We heard from many Kansans strongly opposed to the proposed bus service within the route.”
The Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles and connects towns and cities in Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California and provides passenger train and long-distance passenger service, particularly through rural communities. The Southwest Chief stops in several Kansas communities including Lawrence, Topeka, Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City.