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(Source: Press release from the office of Montana Senator Jon Tester, October 19, 2020)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement as Amtrak’s cuts in service to the Empire Builder line, which crosses the entire state of Montana along the Hi-Line, go into effect today. Those cuts reduce the number of trains running along the route from seven days a week to three.

“I’ve been sounding the alarm for months that this reduction in service will be devastating to Hi-Line communities, economies, and families who use the train to visit family across the country. It’s unacceptable, and I will be pushing Amtrak for clear answers about why they’re cutting service and when it will be returned during my oversight hearing in the Commerce Committee on Wednesday.”

Tester’s Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing on Amtrak will be held on Wednesday, October 21st at 8am MT. Havre’s Paul Tuss, Executive Director of Bear Paw Development Corporation, will testify before the panel.

Tester personally requested the hearing in a letter sent to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) earlier this year, urging them to listen to community members who have been devastated due to service cuts, low ridership, and decreased revenue. The hearing will discuss the oversight of funding allocated to Amtrak in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the future of long-distance rail services across the country.

Amtrak operates 15 long-distance routes in 47 states across the country, connecting rural and urban centers and providing inter-state mobility to underserved communities and populations. Earlier this year, Amtrak announced that it would cut jobs and reduce service in rural communities on the Empire Builder Long-Distance Line beginning in October, which includes 12 stations along the Montana Hi-Line that served 121,429 passengers who boarded or disembarked in the state in 2019.

Read Tester’s letter to Senate Commerce Committee leadership here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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