Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tester to Speak about Amtrak coming to Bozeman

Tester organizes Bozeman town hall to update Montanans on Amtrak study

Tester's bill requires Amtrak to look into restoring southern Montana route

Senator Jon Tester recently announced a town hall meeting in Bozeman to update Montanans on Amtrak's progress in looking into the possibility of restoring passenger train service to southern Montana.

Representatives from Amtrak and the Montana Department of Transportation will join Tester for the town hall update on May 26 at 2 p.m. at Bozeman City Hall. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Tester wrote successful legislation last year requiring Amtrak to study what it would take to reestablish its North Coast Hiawatha route. Connecting Chicago to Seattle, that passenger train route followed Interstates 94 and 90, passing through Glendive, Miles City, Billings, Livingston, Bozeman, Butte, and Missoula. Amtrak discontinued the North Coast Hiawatha in 1979.

Amtrak is currently conducting Tester’s feasibility study. Amtrak expects to have a report in September.  "Bringing the Hiawatha back to Montana isn't a done deal," said Tester, who serves on the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for Amtrak. "But a lot of Montanans are interested in the idea -- and rightly so. This meeting is an opportunity for folks to hear an update on the possibility of restoring the Hiawatha."

Tester's legislation includes language to protect Amtrak's existing Empire Builder service, which stops daily in 12 communities across northern Montana.

A record 28.7 million passengers rode Amtrak trains during the past fiscal year. Amtrak connects more than 500 stations across 46 states.

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