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Sen. Leahy, Rep. Stefanik, Rep. Kuster Awarded Golden Spike for Bipartisan Work on Enhancing US-Canada Rail Link

April 14, 2017

Release #17-08

For Immediate Release (#17-08)

Contact: Xenophon Strategies – (202) 289-4001

Rail Passengers Association Honors Legislators for Improving Travel and Commerce, and Clearing the Way for Return of Vermont - Montreal Connection

Washington, D.C. — The National Association of Rail Passengers, an organization representing the 40 million Americans who rely on passenger trains and rail transit, honored Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, and Representative Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire for their leadership in successfully enacting legislation to facilitate travel and commerce between the United States and Canada, advancing border security.

The Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act, signed into law in December 2016, allowed for the upgrade of U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance facilities—easing the movement of people and goods at rail, land, marine and air ports. The bipartisan bill, which expands U.S. preclearance operations to train stations for the first time ever, will make it easier for both American and Canadian passengers to travel internationally by train—an economic boost for U.S. communities that depend on tourism.

Amtrak connects to Canadian cities across its national network, via the Adirondack (Montreal - Albany - New York), Maple Leaf (Toronto - Niagara Falls - New York), and the Cascades (Vancouver, BC - Seattle – Portland). Critically, the bill clears the way for the extension of the Vermonter north to Montreal, which will better connect Canadian consumers to New England tourist destinations.

By supporting passenger rail service, these leaders are also allowing the U.S. rail manufacturing industry to succeed. As a whole, the rail manufacturing and supply sector employs 90,000 Americans in 39 states. Over 750 companies, many of them small businesses, fabricate components and subcomponents for passenger rail and transit rail in the U.S.—often in small and rural communities located far from the systems they are helping to build.

"Passenger rail holds tremendous potential to expand transportation options, and we know that if our small businesses can reach new customers they can sell more goods, grow our economy and create new jobs," said Congresswoman Kuster. "Streamlining the travel process between the United States and Canada is commonsense and will not only help businesses, it will encourage more tourism, all while improving our security. I'm honored to receive the Golden Spike Award from the National Association of Rail Passengers and look forward to continue working to promote rail service in New Hampshire and throughout the country."

“I thank the National Association of Rail Passengers for this tremendous honor,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that I was proud to help lead through Congress and see signed into law. Increasing commerce with our Canadian neighbors is a top economic priority for my district, and this legislation will help build increased economic ties while supporting travel, commerce and tourism between our two nations. Furthermore, this legislation will help build integrated defense capabilities to maintain a secure Northern border. Importantly for the North Country, this legislation will facilitate Amtrak service from Montreal to the North Country, and will reinforce the future of small border crossings by allowing joint operations along the border. Thank you again to the National Association of Rail Passengers for this honor and their support on this important issue.”

“Expanding preclearance last year was a rare bipartisan victory, an example of the kind of work that the Senate can accomplish when at its best," said Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "I’m grateful for this recognition by the National Association of Railroad Passengers for our work together toward the vision that we share for passenger rail travel, which is part of Vermont’s and the nation’s past, and of our future. Vermonters regularly talk to me about improving the travel experience between Canada and the United States, and that’s what expanding preclearance in rail service will do. This agreement has long been a dream for Vermonters who have fond memories of taking the train north to Montreal to enjoy all that this vibrant cultural hub offers. It is also a win for Vermont’s economy and for visitors from Canada’s largest cities who love to come to Vermont to explore, ski, hike, shop and dine.”

“This bipartisan effort is good, sensible policymaking—but it’s more than that,” said Jim Mathews, NARP President and CEO. “By facilitating the connections between people and economies, these leaders are helping build a better and more prosperous America.”

About the National Association of Railroad Passengers

NARP is the only national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.