Senators Udall, Heinrich Seek Support for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Route

As Congress prepares its fiscal year 2015 spending bills, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced today they are seeking support for capital improvements to Amtrak’s long distance trains, including the Southwest Chief, which runs through New Mexico.

In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, the senators urged them to invest in long distance trains, such as the Southwest Chief, as they consider funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies that oversee Amtrak.

“Long distance service remains a critical link for small and rural communities,” the senators wrote. “However, despite their importance, these trains require significant capital investment that has gone unmet.”

“As you know, Amtrak has announced a possible reroute of the Southwest Chief due to changing shared-use needs,” the senators continued. “The potential reroute has raised serious concerns among the affected communities who depend on this service. While all stakeholders are working to find a responsible and reasonable solution that will preserve the current route, how to address the significant capital investment needs necessary to retain the current route remains unclear.

“While we recognize you are operating under very tight fiscal constraints, we hope you will consider the needs of our constituents in this year’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill,” the senators concluded. The letter was signed by Udall, a member of the transportation appropriations subcommittee; Heinrich; and Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado. The full text is available HERE.