Klein believes in fighting for long-distance rail

An enthusiastic Rick Klein gave an account of the latest action concerning the Southwest Chief and the status of long distance rail in this country. Recent developments have lifted some of the pall cast by the actions of Richard Anderson, current head of Amtrak and a large investor in Delta Airlines. The actions seem determined to end long distance rail in the country to be replaced by intermittent bus service at the stations, which are to be largely unmanned. Payment of the remainder of TIGER IX was derailed.

Recent action by the Senate, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 95-6 or 94-7, in an amendment to the transportation bill, is hoped to restore the funding of Tiger IX. Klein urged everyone to thank our representatives for their strong action. All sorts of tricks have been pulled by Amtrak to derail long distance rail, said Klein. Through organization at the grass roots, TIGER VI and TIGER VII have already replaced and repaired the rails from Newton to La Junta and the rails around Las Vegas in New Mexico. To finish the job, the money must be released for TIGER IX.

Klein has travelled to Washington, D.C., where the legislators were amazed there is no corporation behind saving the Southwest Chief, just the collaboration of the many small towns along its route and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. A whole section of Southwestern Kansas, Southeastern Colorado, and Northern New Mexico will be crippled by the demise of the Southwest Chief, said Klein. “If we don’t save it,” said Klein, “Northern New Mexico will become like a third world country.” He also said, “Colorado is the black hole of transportation.” He showed the dearth of public transportation on a map of rail and bus service in the entire United States.

How did we get so far, against all odds? When the first TIGER grant was turned down, Klein made it his job to find out why. How did the successful grants get financed? The answer was a firm of professional grant writers. Klein got out and collected money from all the stakeholders to hire that firm and was amazed at the participation from people who could ill afford the contributions. They came from everywhere.

The U.S. House of Representatives will reconvene later this month. Klein asked all of his audience to contact as many of the representatives as possible and to keep up the conversation on Facebook and all social media. He said it is a fight for the life of rural America. We depend on rail for getting to the cities for medical services, to see our families, and to be in contact with the rest of the country. As to the President signing the amended bill, Klein thinks he will. “How can he turn his back on the people who elected him? It was rural America that elected him. Let’s make all the country great again, including rural America.”