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Historic 'Southwest Chief' route endangered

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By Hal Rhodes

Nostalgia has long surrounded the demise of legendary Route 66 after Interstate 40 swept its way through the Southwest. Yet there was at least some comfort to be had in knowing that a major roadway had come into being, upon which motorists would wend their way to and fro our dramatic region.
Unfortunately, the tenuous future of an historic Amtrak train invites a less sanguine frame of mind.
During the era of Santa Fe Railway, it was known as the Super Chief. In this age of Amtrak, it’s called the Southwest Chief, and it is still the stuff of history and legend. But unless New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas come up with the wherewithal to keep the Chief operating on its present route, many towns and cities in those states will lose the passenger train service that started boarding travelers in their communities the 1930s.
As matters stand, the Chief, once a jewel in America’s railroad crown, runs on tracks owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe. These are tracks suitable principally for freight trains, and they have been so degraded over the years that BNSF itself no longer uses them.


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