Bennet, Gardner-Backed Amendment to Maintain Southwest Chief Train Service Passes Senate

Amendment Compels Amtrak to Fulfill Promise of Matching Funding for TIGER IX Grant

Washington, D.C. –  An amendment cosponsored by Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) to maintain Amtrak train services along the established Southwest Chief route was included in the 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill that passed the Senate. The amendment would compel Amtrak to fulfill its promise of matching funding for the successful TIGER IX discretionary grant and provide resources for maintenance and safety improvements along the Southwest Chief route. In addition, the amendment would effectively reverse Amtrak’s decision to substitute rail service with bus service over large segments of the route through FY2019.

“The Southwest Chief is an important component of Southeastern Colorado's tourism economy, and we will do all we can to preserve it,” Bennet said. “We’ll continue to work closely with lawmakers from Colorado—and also New Mexico and Kansas—to keep running the Southwest Chief through our state."

“I’m excited to support an amendment that will greatly help the Southwest Chief’s continued presence in Southeastern Colorado,” Gardner said. “The amendment secured by the bipartisan coalition in the appropriations bill will set aside funding for route improvements and enhancements, providing the opportunity to ensure the Southwest Chief stays in Colorado and continues servicing the rural areas that desperately need it.”

The Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles and connects towns and cities in Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, New Mexico, Arizona, and California and provides passenger train and long-distance passenger service, particularly through rural communities.

Last week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a Sense of the Congress measure to affirm support for the long-distance rail service. In July, the senators sent a letter to Amtrak’s CEO urging him to uphold Amtrak’s side of a longstanding public-private partnership to continue operating the Southwest Chief passenger train and long-distance passenger service. In May, the senators sent a bipartisan, multi-state letter condemning Amtrak’s decision not to match TIGER grant funds.