Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman has named Richard & Christina Anderson of Marshall Texas as Amtrak Champions during the annual President's Safety and Service Awards program. Every year the national network passenger rail provider recognizes employees who have performed outstanding service and also honors a small number of non-employees for their deeds in promoting passenger rail service through external grass-roots efforts.
In the Amtrak Ink monthly magazine Richard and Christina Anderson were noted as being champions of Amtrak for more than 20 years. Working as volunteers with the Ark-La-Tex Corridor Council since 2006, the Andersons have initiated, led and developed a strong multistate coalition to establish the Southern Passenger Rail Connection. This proposed connection would extend a section of the Crescent along the busy I-20 Corridor between Meridian, Miss., and Fort Worth, Texas.
Richard and Christina secured more than $750,000 in federal grant monies to help Amtrak with the expansion project. They donated their resources and energy and sought signatures on memoranda of understanding from 48 counties and parishes along the I-20 Corridor.
The Andersons also support Amtrak in other ways. They participate in the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization. They also assisted the Marshall, Texas, depot in getting a $150,000 chairlift for passengers with disabilities at no cost to the company.
Working with Amtrak, the East Texas Council of Governments and EasTexConnects, they helped create a program—which is nearing completion—to get veterans to the Veterans’ Administration Medical Center in Shreveport, La.
Over the years, they have promoted preservation projects at the stations in Marshall, Longview and Texarkana. They have also advocated for higher-speed passenger rail between Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas, and Shreveport/Bossier City, La., and from Dallas/Fort Worth to Arkansas and Louisiana border connections. Richard has served in the Texas Senate and as Harrison County Judge in Marshall and Christina has been deeply involved in numerous civic and educational projects.
Also honored for her volunteer service was Carol Kelsheimer of Arcadia Valley, Missouri. For the first time since 1968, Missouri’s Arcadia Valley now has regularly scheduled passenger rail service. This is largely due to the commitment of Carol Kelsheimer. In 2011, she and the non-profit organization Our Town Tomorrow began working with Amtrak, Union Pacific and state and local governments to open the train station in Arcadia. With the addition of the new stop, the Texas Eagle now serves three stations in Missouri—St. Louis, Poplar Bluff and Arcadia Valley. Amtrak credits Carol’s persistence and business savvy with making the initiative a success. As president of Our Town Tomorrow, the owner of the property and existing station structure, she led the communities of Arcadia, Ironton and Pilot Knob in raising funds from stakeholders and working with contractors to construct the required platform. Throughout the project, Carol remained open-minded and quick to learn about the railroad and challenges faced by Amtrak.
On opening day, Nov. 17, 2016, hundreds of people visited the new station to enjoy fireworks and watch the Texas Eagle arrive. The station is projected to attract approximately 7,500 new passengers and earn roughly $450,000 in ticket revenue per year for Amtrak