June 3, 2017 - TRA Newswire - The next step in restoring passenger rail service between Texas and Kansas will happen Friday June 9 when Amtrak and BNSF Railway will operate a special inspection trip from Oklahoma City to Kansas City.
Texas Rail Advocates urges citizens to turn out in support of restoring rail service to these underserved areas.
The route north from Oklahoma City along the I-35 corridor has not seen passenger rail service since 1979 when Amtrak budget cuts resulted in the discontinuance of Amtrak's Lone Star train. From Oklahoma City south to Fort Worth daily passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak thanks to a joint operating agreement with the Oklahoma and Texas Departments of Transportation.
One of the advocates of restoring service is Pete Meitzner, City of Wichita District II City Councilor, who has been working on this effort for many years.
Wichita Councilor Pete Meitzner
The one-way inspection trip will start out of Oklahoma City at 7:45am on Friday and end at Kansas City Union Station at 5:30 in the afternoon, making short stops at Oklahoma towns and cities to meet with local dignitaries. Those cities visited will be Guthrie, Perry, Ponca City and Arkansas City.
The inspection train will make a brief stop at Wichita, Kansas and then at Newton, Kansas, a stop on the Amtrak Southwest Chief. The train will then head toward Kansas City with intermediate short stops at Emporia and Topeka.
The cost of restoring service has not yet been formalized but according to sources the initial trip will give state and local officials, Amtrak and BNSF Railway the basis to continue the discussion.
TRA has long advocated for a second Heartland Flyer frequency between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City to supplement the one daily round-trip. Last year, Amtrak initiated a motor coach service that meets the northbound Heartland Flyer at Oklahoma City to connect with the Southwest Chief service at Newton Kansas. Restoration of train service would be the next logical step.
The inspection train will stop at the former Santa Fe stations in each city along the route in Oklahoma and then at the current Amtrak stations until it reaches Kansas City.
The schedule for the special train is:
7:45am Depart Oklahoma City Santa Fe Station (downtown) 8:30am DP Guthrie 9:15am DP Perry 10:00am DP Ponca City 10:45am DP Ark City 12:05pm DP Wichita 1:00pm DP Newton 2:20pm DP Emporia 3:45pm DP Topeka 5:30pm Arrive Kansas City Union Station
(Photo on lead is from Heartland Flyer 10th year anniversary celebration on June 13, 2009 in Oklahoma City)