Another round of the fight to preserve the Southwest Chief came to a close Feb. 27, as Amtrak notified Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan) of the organization’s intent to release $3 million to participate in a TIGER grant awarded for renovations to rails in Colorado and New Mexico.
“As the divide between urban and rural communities in America continues to expand, passenger rail services like the Southwest Chief are valuable in connecting Kansans to the rest of the country,” Moran said. “Local communities whose residents and businesses depend on Amtrak should be provided the stability of rail service that the Southwest Chief has delivered to them for decades, which is why I am pleased that Amtrak has upheld its commitment to repair, improve and continue the Southwest Chief rail line. I appreciate my colleagues from New Mexico and Colorado and our bipartisan efforts to keep this line in service.”
Rail advocates claimed at the time that a bus bridge to be instituted by Amtrak would lead to the destruction of the Southwest Chief — and it would halt a possible expansion of the Heartland Flyer northward out of Fort Worth and Oklahoma to Wichita and Newton, connecting to the Southwest Chief. The Rail Passengers Association recently did a study that showed that the bus bridge would have caused a loss of $180 million annually between Dodge City and Albuquerque - and $17 million in Kansas.