Amtrak – It is not surprising but still disappointing that state officials in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico have informed Amtrak that they will contribute nothing to the upgrade of the track necessary to maintain the passenger rail line’s current Southwest Chief route. The affected regions and communities, however, shouldn’t give up the fight to keep the service. And they also should not let the state governments off with a free pass. They do have the money. They just haven’t made passenger rail a priority on par with roads, and that is extremely shortsighted.
When it comes to the Amtrak route, Kansas GOP Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, along with Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, should acknowledge how the train offers affordable transportation that helps many people connect to other destinations. Unfortunately, ultraconservative Republicans haven’t shown much interest in Amtrak-related funding. They should know that this issue isn’t so much about support for the national passenger railroad system, but rather the potential loss to communities along the Southwest Chief route, Garden City included. With hopes of state funding dashed, federal lawmakers should acknowledge rural western Kansas’ need for viable transportation options, and push for funding to maintain the Southwest Chief route.