Tester, Baucus press Amtrak to increase capacity

Senators Say Bakken Energy Boom is Fueling Growing Demand

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester are urging Amtrak to increase capacity on the Empire Builder to help energy-impacted communities take full advantage of the Bakken oil and gas boom.

“We are hearing from our constituents that Amtrak passenger capacity for Montanans, tourists and other passengers trying to travel through Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota can be “extremely limited.” The swell of demand for travel into and out of the Bakken region must be addressed,” Baucus and Tester wrote in a letter to Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “Reliable long-distance passenger rail service is vitally important for our constituents, especially as many residents commute from central or western Montana to jobs in the Bakken. The Empire Builder route is an essential part of spurring economic development in Northern Montana communities, many of which face great distances to reach the nearest airport.”

Baucus and Tester noted the Empire Builder contributes an estimated $14 million annually to communities along the Hi-Line and is experiencing a dramatic rise in ridership related to Bakken energy development. They also urged Amtrak to expand passenger capacity to better accommodate veterans in remote rural areas who must travel long distances to access services at Veterans Affairs facilities. Text of the letter is available below and online HERE.

In support of the booming energy production in the Bakken, Tester also recently called on the Interior Department to more quickly permit responsible energy development projects that drive economic development and create jobs.

Transportation infrastructure has been a cornerstone of Baucus’ ongoing Call to Action in the Bakken to address increased pressure on communities related to the oil and gas boom in Eastern Montana.


READ: Max's letter to President Obama: "Call to Action in the Bakken" online HERE

READ: What Montanans are saying about Baucus' call for an "all hands on deck" approach to economic development in the Bakken and read more online HERE.