Senator amends bill to require Amtrak station agents

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WASHINGTON — U.S. senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, which lost its last manned Amtrak station on Thursday, announced he has amended a pending transportation bill to require the passenger railroad to have at least one station agent in each state it serves.

The amendment also requires Amtrak to justify its decision to increase prices for special and charter trains, and to stop accepting private trains in Huntington, W.Va., a move which could put the state’s annual New River Train in jeopardy.

Manchin, a Democrat, said in a press release that had also spoken to Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Stephen Gardner, urging him to reverse the decision to remove the ticket agent from the Charleston, W.Va., station.

Manchin said in the release that he has “secured language” in the 2018-19 transportation appropriations bill “that will guarantee Amtrak employs at least one ticket agent in every state. When Amtrak announced it was terminating the only ticket agent position in West Virginia, I have been fighting to keep it. … removing the agent at the Charleston station will make it harder for Amtrak to attract new customers and retain the ones they already have.

“Amtrak has told me that most of their sales are now online, but West Virginians buy far more tickets at the Charleston station than most places around the country. That’s not surprising, as nearly 30 percent of West Virginia is without internet access, and mobile broadband access is also difficult in my state’s rugged, mountainous terrain, making online ticket sales difficult.”

Manchin said Thursday on his senatorial Twitter account, “Once the bill is passed by the House & Senate and signed by the President, Amtrak will have to reinstate a position in the state. I will keep fighting to keep and grow jobs in [West Virginia,] even if I have to go one at a time.”

The full Manchin release, including the language of the amendment on station agents, is available at Manchin’s website.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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