Daines Reaffirms Importance of Passenger Rail to Montana

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Senator Steve Daines today called on Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman to work with Eastern Montana stakeholders on efforts to reinstate an Empire Builder stop in Culbertson, Montana.

During this morning’s Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on passenger rail, Daines successfully received a commitment from Boardman to visit and work with local leaders to discuss modernizing the existing station or building a new station in Culbertson.  

Daines: “Mr. Boardman, the recent FAST Act is the longest surface transportation bill Congress has produced in 17 years, it finally provided certainty to the people of Montana. It also required Amtrak to report on station development.  Amtrak previously completed a feasibility study that indicated reinstating an Empire Builder stop in Culbertson, Montana would have a net positive financial impact overall on their financials. In light of the rural set aside, what efforts has Amtrak made to work with Culbertson stakeholders?” 

Boardman: “I understand your interests we will work with you and with them to make sure this gets done.”

Daines: “As somebody who takes the responsibility very seriously to manage taxpayer dollars and be a steward of such, – we looked at the number and it’s actually financially attractive to consider the station, it’s a net positive. They already have infrastructure and the train already passes through at ideal times. My request will be: can we have the Amtrak staff to visit local leaders so they could really hear directly from the leaders there to modernize the existing station or perhaps a new building as you complete the feasibility study? Can we have that commitment to have a face-to-face meeting – I think that will be a positive step forward.” 

Boardman then confirmed that Amtrak staff will visit with local leaders.

Daines secured language in the long-term highway bill that was signed into law by President Obama requiring Amtrak to evaluate options for establishing additional Amtrak stops that would have a positive financial impact to Amtrak, including a potential station in Culbertson, Montana. It also requires evaluation of options to enhance economic development and accessibility of Amtrak stations and their surrounding areas.