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Passengers Award ‘Golden Spike’ to Senators from KS, CO, NM

February 1, 2019

Bennet, Gardner, Heinrich, Moran, Roberts, Udall, will be Recognized for Role in Saving Southwest Chief

For Immediate Release (19-2)

Contact: Xenophon Strategies - (202) 289-4001

The Rail Passengers Association is awarding a bipartisan coalition of six senators its Golden Spike Award for their outstanding contribution in saving the Southwest Chief train route, and their service to the tens of millions of Americans who depend upon the national train network.

The Golden Spike will be awarded to Senators Michael Bennet (CO), Cory Gardner (CO), Martin Heinrich (NM), Jerry Moran (KS), Pat Roberts (KS), and Tom Udall (NM). All six played instrumental roles in preventing the enactment of an Amtrak proposal to break up the route and replace the train with a bus line through the three states. The award will be presented on April 2nd in Washington, D.C. during the Rail Passenger Day on the Hill.

A study done by Rail Passengers and the University of Southern Mississippi found that saving the train prevented $180 million in annual losses to the economies of the three states—from cancelled spending on train operations, fewer visitors, and the lost income from those visitors. Had the “bus bridge” gone through, it also would have imposed an additional temporary loss of $135 million across the Southwest Chief-served communities.

“Senators Bennet, Gardner, Heinrich, Moran, Roberts, Udall all showed tremendous insight to recognize the problem facing their constituents. They acted quickly—and in a bipartisan fashion—to ensure that this disaster was averted,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “Unfortunately, most passengers aren’t aware of the crucial role these six senators played in saving their train, nor the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be kept in these communities as a result. I’m hoping the Golden Spike Award shines a bright light on the great work they’ve done for these communities and their constituents.”

The award will be given at the Rail Passengers Association annual Congressional reception on April 2nd.

Read the full report here: Bustituted: The Socioeconomic Impacts of Replacing Southwest Chief Service Over Raton Pass

About the Golden Spike Award

In the Association's 50-year history, the Golden Spike has been gifted to giants in entertainment such as Johnny Cash and Walt Disney for supporting the train industry. Most recently, it has been awarded to elected officials in Congress, like the late Representatives Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), who have helped push forward new legislation in support of maintaining and furthering passenger rail in the U.S.

Regardless of their background, all recipients have shared a common theme: actions of great service on behalf of America’s passengers.

About the Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.