It took coordination among three states and numerous cities as well as a nearly $12.5 million federal grant last fall to ensure that Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route would keep running through Kansas. The resulting track upgrades promise not only to preserve passenger rail through the state but also benefit rural rail freight customers and the local economies along the route. “It’s a great day for Garden City. It’s a great day for southwest Kansas. It’s a great day for Kansas as a whole,” Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King declared at a celebration in Garden City. So where was the Kansas congressional delegation when the House voted Wednesday to authorize nearly $8 billion in funding for Amtrak through 2019? All four representatives voted “no.” The Hill explained that the group Heritage Action had promised to score lawmakers’ votes on the bill, calling on those concerned about rail service to “privatize Amtrak.” – Rhonda Holman
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