Letter to the editor: Amtrak antics

To the editor:

It took years of good-faith effort by public officials of both parties in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico to keep the Southwest Chief on track, working with the BNSF, Amtrak and the U.S. Department of Transportation to obtain grants for track repair. Much of the work has been done. Now Richard Anderson, Amtrak CEO, is threatening to renege on Amtrak’s pledge of $3 million toward the third TIGER grant of $16 million for repairs to a section of the tracks in New Mexico.

This is outrageous. As the National Association of Railroad Passengers states: “For Amtrak to suddenly withdraw its support for the Chief in the middle of the preservation effort, without any opportunity for stakeholder input, constitutes a serious breach of trust.”

Anderson also wants to end Southwest Chief service at Dodge City by Dec. 31 and replace it with a bus to Albuquerque, isolating Garden City; Lamar, LaJunta and Trinidad, Colo.; and Raton, Lamy and Las Vegas, N.M., from rail service. There’s really only one reason to do this, and that’s to discourage ridership with a view to eliminating the Chief altogether.

The passenger train is not some quaint vestige of yesteryear. Other countries recognize that passenger rail is a vital means of transportation and are investing in new technology, while our government seems bent on dismantling the train service we do have.


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