Tester talking trains

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said Friday he’s organizing a town hall meeting in Bozeman later this month on the feasibility of resuming passenger-train service across southern Montana.

Tester, D-Mont., wrote successful legislation last year requiring Amtrak to study what it would take to reestablish its North Coast Hiawatha route, which ran from Chicago to Seattle and was discontinued in 1979.

The Hiawatha train followed Interstates 94 and 90, passing through Glendive, Miles City, Billings, Livingston, Bozeman, Butte and Missoula.

Amtrak is working on the feasibility study and expects to have a finished report in September.

“Bringing the Hiawatha back to Montana isn’t a done deal,” said Tester, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for Amtrak.  “But a lot of Montanans are interested in the idea—and rightly so.  This meeting is an opportunity for folks to hear an update on possibly restoring the Hiawatha.”

The May 26 meeting will also include representatives from Amtrak and the Montana Department of Transportation, Tester’s office announced in a prepared statement released Friday. The meeting beings at 2 p.m. at Bozeman City Hall and is open to the public.

Tester’s legislation also includes language to protect Amtrak’s existing Empire Builder service, which stops daily in 12 communities across northern Montana.