Southwest Chief Funding Approved in Committee; Heads to Appropriations

A bill in Colorado’s Senate that seeks funding to help preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route passed out of committee today on a 5-2 vote. 

This comes on the heels of a report from the state’s Southwest Chief Commission that says the original expected $40 million share to help save the long distance route has been knocked down to 8.91 million, due in part to a federal transportation grant and negotiations with BNSF Railway, the company that owns the tracks. 

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is a long-distance passenger rail service that connects Chicago to Los Angeles, with Colorado stops in Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad.  Amtrak threatened to reroute the train, bypassing southern Colorado and northern New Mexico entirely, if improvements weren’t made to the tracks.  Senate Bill 176 [.pdf] now heads to appropriations.