The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) presented Representative Kevin Cramer of North Dakota with the prestigious Golden Spike Award yesterday for his strong support of passenger trains and transit, both locally and across the U.S.
Although Representative Cramer has only been in office since January 2013, he’s already played an outsized role in keeping America’s trains on track. The North Dakota native, along with other members of the state’s delegation, shined a spotlight on the oil-by-rail freight train congestion that was causing serious delays to Amtrak’s Empire Builder, which serves as a critical transportation connection to tens of thousands of North Dakotans. The congestion was also causing delays in the shipping of agricultural products by rail, hurting a vital part of North Dakota’s economy.
“I am honored to receive such a prestigious award,” said Representative Cramer. “The Golden Spike carries a rich history in our nation and state. North Dakota is in the eye of the storm as growing demand for rail to move industrial products, commodities and the most precious cargo, people, is highlighting safety concerns like never before. I join my colleagues in insisting on transparency as industry and the government work together to ensure safety is the highest priority on the tracks.”
Cramer’s work helped lead host railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to add 5,000 crewmembers system wide. BNSF also sent 250 temporary workers, 5,000 rail cars, and 125 locomotives to North Dakota to ease congestion.
“The Empire Builder connects 8.8 million Americans who live within 25 miles of one of the stations. Given the rural profile of many of the 46 towns along the route, this train provides the only transportation alternative to highways, and can be the only way to travel during harsh winter storms. As we documented in a recent survey, the Empire Builder provides a vital connection to hospitals in larger cites, serving as a literal lifeline for passengers,” said NARP Chairman Robert Stewart. “Our members, and all of America’s passengers, thank Representative Cramer for his work to keep the trains moving across the national network.”
Click here to read the article and watch the video released on the NARP rail website