Amtrak has refused to backtrack on its plans to end direct passenger service to Boise on April 7, rejecting requests from Idaho's two U.S. senators and Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne.
"We were railroaded," Kemp-thorne said.After meeting with an Amtrak official in Washington, D.C., Kemp-thorne and Sens. Steve Symms and Larry Craig held out only a slim chance for maintaining service on the Pioneer train in Boise.
Craig has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the decision under a 1981 law allowing the attorney general to intervene in Amtrak decisions.
But he said, "I don't offer a great deal of hope."
Amtrak Chairman W. Graham Claytor decided Wednesday to cut off Boise in order to restore a 6 a.m. departure time for the Pioneer train at Seattle. It has been leaving at 5 a.m. for three months for smoother linkup with other trains in Salt Lake City.
Under the new schedule, Boise residents would still be able to buy tickets at the old Union Pacific station in Boise but would have to take a special bus to board the train in Nampa.
Boise is on a loop off the main line.
Amtrak estimates the change would increase revenues by $1.4 million annually from Seattle passengers, while decreasing revenues from Boise by $300,000 to $400,000 a year, spokesman Cliff Black said Thursday.
He said bypassing Boise also would cut annual operating costs by about $180,000.
"We consider this to be an irreversible decision," Black said, "unless some other approach is proffered that will produce the same results."