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Letter: A return of Amtrak service?

In response to "Study by Minnesota 2020 urges state lawmakers to get the ball rolling on regional railroad lines" in the Oct. 16 paper, I find it necessary to respond.

I have been a railroad travel advocate come 40 years in July. At this time, I find importance to informing West Central Tribune readers of developments concerning railroad passenger service.

During October 2008 President George W. Bush signed legislation that would improve Amtrak railroad passenger service over the next five years. The legislation passed both houses of Congress by about 3-to-1 margins. Within the bill, there is authorization of a study of initiating a second Amtrak route operating between Chicago and Seattle (and quite possibly a Spokane-Portland leg).

To brief readers about Amtrak service between Chicago and Seattle during the 1970s: There were two routes, both operated between Chicago and the Twin Cities via Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells.

The Empire Builder left the Twin Cities via Willmar, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot, N.D., Havre and Glacier Park, Mont., on to Sandpoint, Idaho, and Yakima, Wash., before arriving in Seattle.

The North Coast Hiawatha left the Twin Cities via St. Cloud, Fargo and Bismarck, N.D., Billings, Mont., to Sandpoint, Idaho, and Wenatchee, Wash., before arriving in Seattle.

When the North Coast Hiawatha was discontinued in October 1979, the Empire Builder was rerouted via St. Cloud between the Twin Cities and Fargo. In 1981 the train was rerouted via Wenatchee, Wash. on the west end.

Therefore, in closing, if the North Coast Hiawatha is reinstated, the train should be routed via the cities that lost Amtrak service in 1979 and 1981: Willmar, Bismarck, N.D., Billings, Mont., and Yakima, Wash.