The Colorado Rail Passenger Association, or ColoRail, the leading passenger rail advocacy group in the Mile High State, has joined a national campaign to counter the US administration’s plan to slash federal subsidies for Amtrak by almost half. That budget proposal would see funding fall from approximately $1.5 billion to $738 million for the fiscal year beginning this October 1st.

Zephyr - Snow
Amtrak’s California Zephyr

For Westerns states like Colorado, federal cuts could endanger the Amtrak long-distance trains that serve them. Rail passengers in Colorado can currently access Amtrak’s national network via the long-distance California Zephyr, and the Southwest Chief. US-wide, Amtrak serves 46 states and more than 500 communities, which for many, have only Amtrak as their public transportation. The US administration proposes that individual states provide financial support for long-distance routes.

The complexities of achieving state support for long-distance trains relates to the multitude of states involved and their individual fiscal standing. For example, the California Zephyr, with such Colorado stops as Denver, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction, crosses seven states on its 2400+ mile run between Chicago and San Francisco. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, more than half of US states have experienced budget shortfalls the past two years. Would they be able to afford – or have the political will – to fund a long-distance train?

Western Amtrak Routes
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ColoRail is joining with the Rail Passengers Association (RPA, formerly NARP) in its national campaign to ask Congress to reject the proposed Amtrak cuts, and information about those efforts can be found at the official link CURRENT CAMPAIGNS.

On a closing note, ColoRail recently received a $1000 contribution from Cambridge Systematics, a leading Massachusetts research & consulting group. The gift was in recognition of ColoRail’s role in helping to develop the Colorado State Rail Plan – click COLORAIL for more info on the advocacy group.

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)

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