Amtrak officials, along with city leaders of Newton and Wichita, met with the Oklahoma State Legislature this week to talk. They were talking about the extension of a rail line that serves Texas and Oklahoma coming farther north — through Wichita and to Newton.
They report feeling pretty good after that meeting. That's a big deal, a really big deal. Newton is already the busiest passenger rail station in the state. Connect the long distance Southwest Chief with the regional Heartland Flyer headed south, and Newton should get busier.
But politics can be a real roller coaster, and such was the case this week. As that meeting in Oklahoma City was going on, there was an amendment offered to a house appropriations bill in Washington D.C.
That amendment, offered by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), would end Amtrak's national network by eliminating more than $1 billion in federal grants.
This came after a summer where appropriators in the House and the Senate had made attempts to increase investment in passenger rail.
Brooks' amendment was one of just dozens attached to HR 3354, a house appropriations bill.
The word is that the amendment either did, or will, die. Good riddance.
We must remain ever diligent to protect the passenger rail system, and Newton's link to it. It is a vital link between us and the rest of the United States.
— Kansan Editorial Board