‘Citizens’ Train’ Departs on Whistle-Stop Trip

United Press International

About 400 people jammed into the Amtrak station Saturday to cheer the “Citizens’ Train” as it began a whistle-stop trip to Washington to urge more money for social programs and less funds for military spending.

The Amtrak train started in Seattle with 75 people, picked up 100 more in Portland and headed for Salt Lake City, where it will join a small delegation from Oakland. By the time the train reaches Washington on Tuesday, 500 people are expected to be aboard, organizers said.

Besides Portland and Salt Lake City, whistle stops are scheduled for Denver, Omaha and Chicago.


In Washington, participants plan to rally on the Capitol steps and be greeted by astronomer Carl Sagan. Then they will split up and try to meet with congressmen, interest groups and peace lobbies.

Among sponsors of the train are the Gray Panthers, the Ecumenical Peace Institute, Sane-Freeze, Women for Peace, World Citizen’s Assembly and church groups.

‘Tremendous Tidal Wave’

Rep. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the Portland turnout showed a “tremendous tidal wave” of support by Oregonians for the effort. Among others endorsing the action were Sen. Mark O. Hatfield and Reps. Les AuCoin and Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, and Sen. Brock Adams and Reps. Thomas S. Foley and Mike Lowry of Washington. All but Hatfield are Democrats.

Hatfield, AuCoin and Wyden have said they will greet the train when it arrives in Washington.

Despite its anti-weapons message, the train and some supporters, including Hatfield, AuCoin and Oregon Gov. Neil E. Goldschmidt, were criticized by New Clear Vision, an activist group opposed to nuclear arms, and Home Aid Inc., advocates for the homeless.

Those groups were to announce a nuclear-free zone campaign to block deployment of 36 F-15 fighter jets in Portland and Klamath Falls, Ore. The groups said Hatfield and AuCoin played key roles in locating the planes in Oregon. A Home Aid spokesman said Goldschmidt welcomed the F-15s and authorized $80 million in state funds partly for military activity.

Four women in Oregon began plans for the Citizens’ Train two years ago and hope the campaign will impress American leaders.