How Do We Love Amtrak’s Long-Distance Trains? Let Us Count the Ways!

Those of us connected to the National Association of Railroad Passengers spend a lot of time worrying about Amtrak’s long-distance trains. Congress has targeted them for years. John Mica (R-Florida) is constantly trashing them and Jeff Denham from California, also a Republican, is worse than Mica because he actually sounds rational some of the time.
Like it or not, NARP must do it’s best to educate and inform these guys and other members of Congress as to the importance of the long-distance trains to literally millions of Americans. We’re always looking for ways to strengthen our argument and you just never know when one will pop up.
Case in point: a few months ago, a nurse at a small hospital in rural Kansas told us that when one of their patients has a medical problem that’s beyond their capability to treat effectively, they sent that patient to a large, more sophisticated facility in Kansas City or Chicago. And, she said, they send them by long-distance train! Compared to flying, it’s safe, comfortable, affordable transportation. And certainly, getting there by car would be the last possible choice.
We immediately jumped on this new idea and set out to accumulate as many personal stories as possible stories that would dramatically illustrate this important new reason to support trains like the Southwest Chief or the Sunset Limited or the Cardinal.
Because of privacy laws, however, the hospitals and clinics could not provide us with any information. So this past Thursday, we sent an email out to the NARP membership, asking for anyone who has used a long-distance train for medical transportation to contact us. As of this morning, we had received 75 replies! Staff people in our Washington office are going through them now, looking for the best examples.
Once the most interesting and dramatic examples have been chosen, we’ll start acquainting elected officials with this whole new aspect of the issue.
What’s so amazing to me is the fact that none of us ever realized that Amtrak is providing essential long-distance medical transfer service for a lot of people all across rural America.
You can be sure that the politicians are going to be hearing about it very soon now!