Washington, D.C. — America’s rail passengers honored a bipartisan coalition of six senators with the Golden Spike Award on April 2 for the crucial role they played in saving the Southwest Chief train, and for their service to the tens of millions of Americans who depend upon a national train network.

A Rail Passengers Association study found that the senators’ actions preserves $180 million in economic activity in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico each year.

“The nation’s rail passengers are exceptionally grateful to U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-NM) 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."

Said Udall, “I’m so proud that we came together in bipartisan fashion in the Senate to keep the Southwest Chief chugging along, and I’m grateful for this recognition from the Rail Passengers Association. This victory is a testament to what we can accomplish when we reach across the aisle and work together to advance our common interests,” said Sen. Udall.

“Long distance passenger rail lines are absolutely critical to connecting towns and cities across the American West, especially in New Mexico. For many in New Mexico and beyond, the Southwest Chief is more than a railroad line; it’s a journey through time—through the historic West—and a vital link between rural communities from Raton to Gallup.

"By ensuring a strong and stable future for this historic route, we’ll create jobs, promote tourism, and boost economic development. As a member of the Senate Commerce and Appropriations Committees, I’ll keep fighting for strong investments in transportation infrastructure that bolster the economy and link communities across the country.”

“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 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.”

Bennet said, "At our first Southwest Chief meeting years ago in La Junta, Colorado, we joined a coalition of community leaders and pledged to find the funding to keep the line running. Amtrak's decision to uphold its commitment to match the TIGER grant is because of the dedication of these leaders and validates the importance of the Southwest Chief.

"This is a hard-fought win for rural communities whose economies rely on this route, and we’ll continue working to make the investments in rural infrastructure that our kids and grandkids deserve.”

As a result of the work of the Southwest Chief Senate coalition, the recently passed Fiscal Year 2019 budget included a set-aside for preservation work on the corridor, and Amtrak reversed their decision to withhold matching funding for a construction grant that 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.