'Whistle-Stop' Tour Travels Along the Southwest Chief Route

Jul 15, 2014

La Junta Mayor Lynn Horner (left) shakes hands and poses with Amtrak CEO and President Joe Boardman (right)
Credit Dana Cronin / KRCC

The President and CEO of Amtrak rode the Southwest Chief line in a separate train through Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico on a Whistle-stop tour to talk about the future of the route.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin was in La Junta and has this report.

The Southwest Chief runs between Los Angeles and Chicago. The future of the route is in question, as the current rail lines require upgrades in order to maintain passenger rail speeds.

Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman says he wants to keep the Southwest Chief in Southern Colorado and says it’s important to uphold a commitment to rural communities.

“You’ve got airlines abandoning the rural communities in this nation," said Boardman. "You have the bus systems reducing the amount of service they provide. Amtrak is the backbone of public transportation in the United States.”

Amtrak, along with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which owns the track, has partnered with Kansas and Colorado entities to apply for a federal transportation grant to help fund repairs.

If no overall plan is found, the train will be rerouted through Oklahoma and Texas, bypassing Colorado and Northern New Mexico entirely.