VIDEO: New Mexico governor speaks at 'Southwest Chief' rally in Las Vegas, N.M.

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The New Mexico Rail Passengers Coalition held a rally in Las Vegas, N.M., to bring awareness of the importance of the Amtrak Southwest Chief to the local community on April 19, 2019. The rally was held in the recently restored Plaza Hotel, with about 125 people attending. Elected officials from New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas showed their support for the Southwest Chief and pledged to continue pressuring Amtrak officials in Washington to understand that rural communities rely on long distance passenger train service.

Adrian Gurule, president of the New Mexico Rail Passengers Coalition and organizer of the rally says, “Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson needs to see that America loves passenger rail, and we need to work together to bring more public awareness that long distance trains are important.  The Southwest Chief is definitely not out of the woods yet.”

Last year, Anderson threatened to discontinue the Southwest Chief from Dodge City, Kan., to Albuquerque, N.M., and bridge that distance with bus service, citing the need for track upgrades and positive train control installation. Intervention by senators and representatives from Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico helped allocate $50 million in fiscal year 2019 Appropriations Act, which was signed into law in February 2019.   However, Amtrak’s 2020 budget request reveals current management’s preference for short-distance corridors and a dismissive attitude toward long distance trains, prompting rallies to support the Southwest Chief route.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham speaking at the rally says, “We recognize the value of the Amtrak service and not having any disruptions. We are also clear that we have provided resources to support necessary investments to make sure that we replace pieces of the line that need to be replaced.”

In regard to the importance of rail travel to the community of Las Vegas, N.M., Grisham says, “You have invested in productive, broad-based, new business ideas. We have a vision for the community and county that is not just based on outdoor recreation, tourism, and education, but having an all-of-the-above approach in terms of economic interests. To do that productively, we have to maintain the tourism, travel, and interest in all of these communities. I’m very proud to be here today and to make sure you hear my commitment directly.”

The New Mexico Rail Passenger Coalition plans to hold more rallies this year, starting with Raton, N.M., in fall 2019.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and NMRPA president Adrian Gurule discuss Amtrak Southwest Chief Thomas Scalf
New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and NMRPA president Adrian Gurule discuss Amtrak Southwest Chief at a rally in Las Vegas, N.M., April 19, 2019.
Thomas Scalf

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