A crowd is expected at Fort Worth, Oklahoma City and points in-between on Friday, June 14 to celebrate 20 years of passenger rail service on the Heartland Flyer route between the two states. A 20th Anniversary Event that includes Oklahoma Department Of Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz, Texas Department of Transportation Rail Division Director Peter Espy and others will be held at the Oklahoma City station on Friday, June 14th, starting at 7:45 a.m. and continuing until the departure of Train 821 at 8:25 a.m. A commemorative Heartland Flyer t-shirt will be unveiled and available for sale.
The daily service by Amtrak has carried more than 1.4 million passengers between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth during the past two decades. The line was initiated thanks to federal funds received by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to start Amtrak service. ODOT and TxDOT partner annually to continue the daily operations. The Heartland Flyer connects to the Texas Eagle train in Fort Worth, which provides service to major cities including Dallas, Little Rock, St. Louis or Austin and San Antonio.
“The Heartland Flyer continues to be a major transportation solution for connecting Oklahoma to rail options nationwide,” Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz said. “We appreciate the support of Oklahomans and Texans for this line and look forward to opportunities to keep it growing in the future.”
As part of the 20th anniversary celebration this Friday, June 14, the Heartland Flyer will get a special send-off at 7:45 a.m. from the Santa Fe Depot and the Paul Adams Memorial Platform in Oklahoma City. Invited guests include Secretary Gatz, Oklahoma City Manager Craig Freeman and Amtrak Senior Manager Todd Stennis. Participating with her family will be Katie Moore of Oklahoma City, who suggested the name for the train when she was 11-years old in 1999. Katie, her husband and kids will be riding on the Heartland Flyer to Fort Worth, returning on the evening train. Back in 1999, Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles conducted a contest asking Oklahoma children to name the state’s new passenger train. The "Name the Train" program was located on Nickles' web site and provided some suggestions used by Amtrak when picking a train name. During the contest, over 300 children submitted 500 different suggestions.
Rail Passengers Association Chairman and Texas Rail Advocates President Peter LeCody and other rail advocates will join the train for the trip down to Fort Worth Friday morning and a welcoming party will greet the arrival of Train 821 at Fort Worth Central Station at about 12:30 p.m. Among those attending will be Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke and Councilman Brian Byrd. Citizens are encouraged to cheer the train along its route at Oklahoma and in Texas at Gainesville and especially on arrival in Fort Worth.
In commemoration of the event Amtrak is offering a 20% off discount code that can be used to ride the train on June 14 and during the summer. A new Heartland Flyer logo is also being unveiled. See insert below.
The "Heartland Flyer" ended a 20-year absence of passenger train service from Oklahoma and North Texas, according to the ODOT Heartland Flyer website.
On June 14th, 1999 the 11 car Inaugural Heartland Flyer headed North out of Fort Worth, with dignitaries, including Sen. Nickles, Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, Amtrak officials, and mayors from each of the towns served by the Flyer. Thousands turned out to greet the new train with waves, smiles, banners, and even marching bands.
The Amtrak Heartland Flyer, Trains 821 & 822, provides daily service between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth with stops in Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley and Ardmore, Oklahoma and Gainesville, Texas. Adult fares for the full route range from $31-52 each way. Pets and bicycles are welcome, but space is limited so reserve your tickets in advance.
Other anniversary celebrations this summer include:
Amtrak is offering a 20% discount off Heartland Flyer tickets from now until August 31, but tickets must be purchased three days in advance. Passengers can book their tickets online at https://www.amtrak.com/heartland-flyer-20th-anniversary or by phone at 800-872-7245. ODOT will be giving away Heartland Flyer tickets on social media in celebration, so be sure to like and share. Limited edition Heartland Flyer 20th anniversary pins and shirts are available for purchase through Amtrak from June 10 to June 24 at https://amtrak.bnr.corpmerchandise.com/june2019 The Flyer has partnered with the Oklahoma City Dodgers to broadcast news during games and over the radio. A National Park Service “Trails and Rails” Volunteer rides every Friday through Sunday on the train now until Sep. 2. The guides meet people from around the world as they travel by rail and share the beauty and history of the regional and its national parks.
Every October, Amtrak and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation add an additional coach to accommodate fans attending the "Red River Shootout" football game in Dallas between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. This popular excursion often sells out quickly.