Gardner Honored for Bipartisan Work to Preserve Southwest Chief Route

Washington, D.C.— The Rail Passengers Association Tuesday honored a bipartisan coalition of six senators, including Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) with the Golden Spike Award for their work to advocate for and preserve the Southwest Chief route. A Rail Passengers Association study found that the Senators’ actions preserves $180 million in economic activity in Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico each year.

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“I’m honored to be recognized for my advocacy on behalf of the Southwest Chief, which is so important to rural communities in Southeastern Colorado,” said Senator Gardner. “I have been proud to work with my colleagues in the Senate and our state and local partners to support the Southwest Chief over the past several years. Going forward, I’ll continue my efforts to preserve the line and support Colorado’s transportation priorities at the federal level.”

“The nation’s rail passengers are exceptionally grateful to Senators Bennet, Gardner, Heinrich, Moran, Roberts and Udall for their actions to save the Southwest Chief, particularly those who live and work in Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “Thanks to their decisive work, we’ve seen a complete defeat of the proposal to replace the train with a bus bridge, and the communities that depend on the Southwest Chief can rest easy knowing the train’s future is on solid ground.”   

“Senator Cory Gardner has been instrumental in protecting Amtrak’s critical rail service to Colorado. Our rural community citizens and businesses depend on this service. We are all grateful for this support.” - Jim Souby, President, ColoRail. 

“A year ago Southern Colorado was risking losing the Southwest Chief rail line permanently. When I spoke to Cory Gardner he committed to putting all his energy and efforts into saving this important long distance route. He took my calls on multiple occasions to discuss legislative strategy. Cory worked across party lines and made a difference. Cory Gardner is very well deserving of this distinction.” - Sal Pace (D-Pueblo) Former CO House Democratic Leader / Pueblo County Commissioner and SW Chief and Front Range Rail Commissioner.

As a result of the work of the Southwest Chief Senate coalition, the recently passed Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations legislation included a set-aside for preservation work on the corridor, and Amtrak reversed their decision to withhold $3 million in matching funding for a construction grant which will bring an additional $26 million in upgrades. Taken together, this ensures a sustainable future for the service, which will continue to connect urban and rural communities together throughout the region.

About the Rail Passengers Association

The Rail Passengers Association, previously known as the National Association of Railroad Passengers, is the oldest and largest national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. Theyhave worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Their mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Their work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.




Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.