- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

TRINIDAD, Colo. (AP) - Amtrak said it is considering scaling back on luxuries to save Southwest Chief passenger train stops in Colorado.

The cutbacks on complimentary wine and cheese, pillow chocolates, flowers and newspapers on some routes are part of an attempt by railroad officials and politicians to keep stops in Trinidad, La Junta and Lamar.

Democratic state Rep. Leroy Garcia of Pueblo said eliminating the stops would be devastating to the economy in southeast Colorado.

The Southwest Chief route travels between Chicago and Los Angeles, but a portion of the route that runs from the central Kansas community of Newton to Albuquerque, N.M., could be in jeopardy.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe owns the track Amtrak uses to cross Kansas and Colorado and travel into New Mexico.

To keep the Southwest Chief on its current route, Amtrak has already proposed that New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas share the costs of the track maintenance and upgrades with Amtrak and BNSF. The plan calls for the states to each provide $4 million annually for a decade.

Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said Amtrak still has work to do, but eliminating the frills is a step in the right direction.

Garcia said he was heartened that Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman is promising to help rescue the line by cutting costs, The Denver Post reported Wednesday (https://tinyurl.com/ln4xkpf).

Cutting costs and eliminating losses keeps Amtrak moving toward its goal of continuing to serve what Boardman calls “small-town America that is being abandoned by airlines and bus companies and keep communities such as Trinidad and La Junta … connected by rail to the rest of the nation.”

Garcia is co-sponsoring legislation that would create a Colorado financing authority to explore ways to pay for the track upgrades.


Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.com

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