You are on page 1of 2

COLORADO

A Southwest Chief & Front Range


Passenger Rail Commission

June 4, 2018

Mr. Richard H. Anderson, President and CEO


National Passenger Rail Corporation
1 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Anderson:

Since last October, there has been a lack of understanding and communication between Amtrak and the State of
Colorado Southwest Chief E Front Range Passenger Rail Commission (Commission). The Commission was established
by the Colorado General Assembly with broad bi-partisan support in 2017. The Commission succeeded a previous
legislative commission established in 2014 which focused on sustaining the Amtrak Southwest Chief Passenger train.
Amtrak representatives have served as commissioners on both commissions over the past four years, along with
Leaders in Local government, host freight railroads, transportation advocates and state and regional transportation
planning agencies. All commissioners are gubernatorial appointments.

In addition to organizing and developing strategies to support and sustain the Southwest Chief’s continued operation
across southern Colorado, our tegislation directed that the Commission coordinate our efforts with adjacent states. In
that regard, representatives of the Kansas and New Mexico Departments of Transportation have regularly participated
in our meetings. In 2017, the Colorado General Assembly expanded our vision to include Front Range passenger rail
service between Wyoming and New Mexico. This service would serve the five million citizens in the congested
Interstate 25 corridor and link with Amtrak’s California Zephyr and Southwest Chief trains, adding ridership to both.
This year, the State of Wyoming has begun participating in the Commission meetings.

Our commission has become aware of Amtrak’s position statement, released by your Government Affairs office in
early May, concerning continued operation of the Southwest Chief. Contrary to the position statement, there has
been a plan, developed in response to Amtrak outreach and committed to by Amtrak representatives, our state and
others, to “save” the Southwest Chief’s operation across southern Colorado through long-term improvement to the
train’s route. That plan was first conceived at the Southwest Chief “summit” meeting in La Junta, Colorado, in
November, 2011. Amtrak officers representing your company were involved in communication and planning from the
first. The plan entailed connecting with our congressional delegations and working with Amtrak, the states of
Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico as well as other stakeholders to obtain funding to meet the route maintenance and
improvement requirements Amtrak communicated to us. These early planning efforts ted to the aforementioned
legislation and interstate cooperation, certainly evidence of a concerted planning effort.

The plan entailed the development of consecutive TIGER grant applications across the three states in cooperation with
BNSF Railway, the state Departments of Transportation, local communities and advocates in addition to Amtrak.
Starting with TIGER 6, our track record in generating funds to address issues first brought to our attention by Amtrak
has resulted in the most successful TIGER grant program in the country. The partners have succeeded in obtaining
over $70 million in support for the Southwest Chief and another $2.5 million for Colorado Front Range passenger rail
planning this fiscal year.

2829 W Howard Pi, Denver, CO 80204 303757 .‘616


Mr. Richard H. Anderson, Page 2

The successful TIGER 9 application was the latest step in the plan. It would increase the improvements directed to
the route in New Mexico while completing much of the improvements targeted for Colorado and Kansas. While Amtrak
provided a qualified support letter with its commitment to the TIGER 9 application last fall your representatives did
not share that letter or discuss its contents with the Commission despite numerous opportunities to do so. That letter
also ignored the planning already in place in collaboration with Amtrak. Not only is the TIGER 9 funding in jeopardy,
but valuable time to reach solutions meeting all parties' needs was lost. Of particular concern, the partners lost the
opportunity to apply for a BUILD grant, generously funded by Congress for 2018.

Amtrak's communicated positions and ultimatums concerning continued operation of the Southwest Chief are deeply
troubling and inexcusable for an enterprise that purports to cooperate with states. This has created major
uncertainty for our citizens, communities and public and private leaders.

Amtrak's early May letter from its Government Affairs department stated that if states and local communities desire
to see the train's operation continued, there needs to be a comprehensive plan and commitments from other
stakeholders addressing the long-term viability of the route across Colorado and neighboring states. As pointed out
above, that plan exists. If it needs to be changed and updated, then Amtrak needs to join and lead the dialogue with
our Commission and other stakeholders to put a more acceptable plan in place to ensure the train's operation can be
sustained for the long term.

Amtrak's early May position statement ended with a commitment to "keep you updated on our plans as we consider
the future of this portion of the (Southwest Chief's) route". Colorado's Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail
Commission expects Amtrak to keep that commitment. The Commission welcomes the opportunity to meet with you
and appropriate Amtrak officers to collaboratively plan for the Chief's long-term continued operation across Colorado
and our neighboring states.

Sincerely,

)1)1�UU1.-
i.j
Jill Gaebler, Chair

Cc: Kansas and New Mexico DOTs


Colorado Commissioners
Congressional Delegation
BNSF Railway

2829 W Howard Pl, Denver, CO 80204 303.757.9646