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Congressional Hearing On Amtrak Postponed

A congressional hearing to discuss Amtrak’s reduction of services has been postponed to at least Monday, Oct. 19, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Roy Loewenstein, press secretary for Tester, said the hearing was moved because of the decision to recess the Senate because of COVID concerns. He noted that Tester hopes to reschedule the hearing as soon as safely possible. The meeting was planned to take place on Oct. 7.

“We’re pushing to get it rescheduled,” Loewenstein told the Northern Plains Independent.

A goal of the hearing is to understand Amtrak’s long-term plans after Amtrak’s Empire Builder reduced its services from seven days to only three days a week.

“He’s basically asked for some explanation and a decision to when Amtrak will return to full service,” Loewenstein said.

The hearing will include testimony from Paul Tuss, executive director of Bear Paw Development.

“The truth of the matter is, Amtrak keeps Montana’s Hi-Line communities connected to the rest of the country while providing jobs and revenue to folks in places like Shelby, Havre and Glasgow,” Tester said in a press release. “The coronavirus pandemic has devastated Amtrak ridership, and looming cuts to long-distance lines like the Empire Builder are threatening the livelihood of thousands of Montanans. I’m proud to have secured this hearing so politicians in Washington can finally hear firsthand from folks like Paul Tuss just how critical Amtrak services are to rural America.”

The senator has demanded that Amtrak provides a timeline for resuming full service. He helped secure $1 billion for Amtrak in the Cares Act to maintain long distance routes during the pandemic.

“For Congress to continue its support for all operations, we need a commitment from Amtrak on what the conditions and timelines of a full resumption of seven-daya- week service on all long-distance routes would look like, and the costs associated with the reduction and resumption of service,” Tester said in a press release.

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