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Files amendment; receives written commitment from Amtrak president

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has launched an aggressive push to return passenger railroad service to southern Idaho. Crapo today filed an amendment to S. 294, a bill to fund Amtrak now being debated on the Senate floor; that amendment will strengthen an effort already in the bill to return the former Pioneer Route across southern Idaho in several ways.

Crapo's amendment will ensure that Amtrak uses the same new methodology to determine whether to reinstate passenger rail service along the Pioneer Route or along segments of that route as is used on all Amtrak routes. It also requires the new methodology to consider the transportation needs of communities that are not well served by Amtrak, and it reduces from two years to one the time frame under which Amtrak must study returning the route to Idaho.

"This push is far from over, but we have made substantial progress in the likelihood we can bring back the trains," Crapo said. "For the first time, Amtrak has given Idahoans a written commitment-one that promises to visit the state and meet with Idahoans. I am pleased that the effort toward restoring Amtrak service to southern Idaho is receiving support, and look forward to bringing this issue to the full Senate later this week."

Last week, Crapo received a letter from Alex Kummant, President and CEO of Amtrak. In the letter, Kummant states, "I will make it a personal priority of mine to visit your home state and learn firsthand of the opportunities that exist in Idaho and other western states for expanded intercity passenger rail service."

The Senate resumes debate this week on S. 294, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007, authored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey). Crapo's amendment is likely to be considered this week.

Amtrak discontinued passenger rail service between Seattle to Chicago (commonly known as the Pioneer Route) in 1997. The route went through Boise, Twin Falls and Pocatello. Amtrak service has continued through Sandpoint, in Idaho's Panhandle, on a northern route from Chicago to Seattle.

The letter from Amtrak's president to Senator Crapo accompanies this news release.