October 30, 2007

SENATE PASSES AMTRAK BILL WITH CRAPO AMENDMENT

Senator expects meetings in Idaho to discuss new passenger rail service

Washington, DC - The U.S. Senate has approved an Amtrak rail passenger service spending bill that will likely result in a renewed effort to return service to southern Idaho, if the U.S. House agrees. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo's amendment including Idaho-specific language about returning Amtrak was approved as a part of the full bill, which passed on a vote of 70 to 22.

"Idahoans are contacting our offices and showing overwhelming support for returning Amtrak service to southern Idaho," Crapo said. "We now have approval by the U.S. Senate and the written commitment by Amtrak's president that he will come to Idaho, hold meetings, and discuss passenger service with Idahoans.

Crapo's amendment approved in the Senate bill seeks to ensure Amtrak fairly considers rural communities not well-served by passenger rail transportation. It would reduce from two years to one the time frame under which Amtrak must study returning the route to Idaho, and it requires Amtrak to use the same methodology to make decisions about the Pioneer Route that it uses on all service decisions.

"Now the vote goes to the House, but it appears Idahoans, and communities in Idaho, Oregon, and other Western states will have a chance to make their voices heard regarding passenger rail trains as a transportation alternative in the West," Crapo said.

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." Amtrak served Boise, Shoshone, Pocatello, and other cities with the former Pioneer Route.