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Could Amtrak return to Boise? There is a concerted effort by community leaders to bring it back.

Posted at 12:22 PM, Oct 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-02 14:22:41-04

BOISE, Idaho — If you remember the old Pioneer Line, you probably remember when Amtrak serviced Boise — but for many it is only a thing of the past. Now there is a concerted effort to get it back.

President and CEO of the Boise Metro Chamber Bill Conners said the west is where the growth is, so wouldn't Amtrak want to restart lines through Idaho?

"This is where the growth is, we can't leave this part of the country out," Conners said.

Conners recently returned from Washington D.C. where he met with an Amtrak planning officials and said the meeting was encouraging.

"The good news is he happens to be an Intermountain West kind of a guy and said right to me, you're right, the Intermountain West is not well served by Amtrak," he said.

President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan infrastructure bill into law that includes $66 billion in new funding for rail to address Amtrak's maintenance backlog. Conners said it's a step in the right direction.

"Obviously you have an administration that's put an awful lot of money into the possibility of bringing back some of the former routes," he said. "Obviously the time is now to start talking about this."

Related: Boise, Salt Lake City partnering to request rail service between cities

According to Conners, there is a deadline for Amtrak to make a decision on which line that they want to study which he believes is coming soon. If you fall into that category then you would be eligible for federal assistance.

Earlier this month, a letter was sent to the administrator of the Federal Rail Administration signed by dozens of Idaho's leaders expressing their interest in restoring service specifically between Boise and Salt Lake City.

Amtrak officials were in Boise not too long ago for a public meeting and at one point someone raised their hand and asked would we need to make improvements to the Boise Depot, and the Amtrak representative replied that it already is one of the best stations in the country.