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Author Topic: Link: ''Kansas cities support Amtrak routes to Dallas area" "
PullmanCo
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Listening to Jay Schaefer on NPR this morning was an adventure:

-- Social Services advocates: No More Cuts. We Have to Have Our Share of the Budgetary Pie.

-- School Districts: We Are Asking the Kansas Supreme Court to Re-Open the Funding Decision Case.

-- State Senate: We Are Having Whine With Our Cheese: We Are Debating a Resolution of Disappointment That School Districts Are Using The People's Dollars to Sue the State for More People's Dollars.

Overall, there's a reason I live in Missouri: The folks in Jeff City are not the cast of "Ship of Fools."

I understand the legislation is both an unfunded mark on the wall, and a first run to build support against the day a super-majority might be needed. I continue to say this, though: Working to obtain a super-majority, especially in the House, means high cover for the politicos come election day.

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sfthunderchief
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The Kansas Senate passed a bill SB 409 today authorizing a state passenger rail service program by a vote of 37-3. The bill will now move on to the House.

SB 409 will not put Amtrak on the tracks in Kansas, however, there will never be any train on the tracks without developmental bills of this type. Specifically, Kansas can't seek much in the way of Federal grant funds under PRIAA, ARRA II, or any future bill uncontemplated at this time.

Still, this bill passed with way over a 2/3rd's vote. This is good news for the train campaign.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Thunderchief, we should note that talk is cheap, and unless at State level, the term authorization means something different than it does at Federal level, no feed will be poured in the trough for the consultants to have a chow down until the Kansas leguslature and Governor ENACT legislation appropriating funds for the pig out.

Yes, it is lots of fun for legislators to state in a meaningless bill that 'we want more trains', but the tune has a way of playing in a minor key when it is time to "pony up". Just ask the folks down in Florida regarding the 2K HSR referendum (that's not addressing the current "Airport Express' project).

Kansas had its trip to the plate for the Feddybux under ARRA '09 - and struck out.

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sfthunderchief
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
Mr. Thunderchief, we should note that talk is cheap, and unless at State level, the term authorization means something different than it does at Federal level, no feed will be poured in the trough for the consultants to have a chow down until the Kansas leguslature and Governor ENACT legislation appropriating funds for the pig out.

Yes, it is lots of fun for legislators to state in a meaningless bill that 'we want more trains', but the tune has a way of playing in a minor key when it is time to "pony up". Just ask the folks down in Florida regarding the 2K HSR referendum (that's not addressing the current "Airport Express' project).

Kansas had its trip to the plate for the Feddybux under ARRA '09 - and struck out.

Gilbert,

Would it be possible for Kansas to move forward, for its DOT to act and apply for PRIAA and ARRA funds without some form of fundamental enabling legislation to build a passenger rail program?

Most every report I submit on this movement in Kansas gets the same type of response from this group, essentially that the interest and movement, slow and deliberate as it is, means nothing.

The other drift I get is that everyone somehow thinks I'm niaive and believe that these measures make it a done deal. I know it isn't a done deal, and that there is much more to be done.

With passage of SB409 Kansas will have a state passenger rail program, modeled on Iowa's. This may make Kansas more eligible for funding grants under ARRA and PRIAA. The state is working also on the required service development plan, another prerequisite for funding.

Again, can Kansas ever have passenger rail service restored without these fundamentals?

HR 2552 passed in the Kansas House this morning 112-10. This bill authorizes Kansas to become a member of the Midwest Intercity Passenger Rail Commission.

Both HR 2552 and SB 409 passed with yes votes way beyond the 2/3rds majority.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Thunderchief, I certainly accept that the proponents of a Kansas HSR project are in better straits for having a 'we want trains' resolution passed than not. I am also aware, then even though the proponents struck out with regards to ARRA '09 funding, the door for Federal funding is not closed, for if proper seed money is funded at Local level, then a grant application for FTA funding can be filed. However, I do not know (I'll bet Mr. Resor does) what is the 'you want it/you got it ratio" (the 12/1 ARRA '09 measurement often noted here) with the FTA.

I would have preferred to have seen the $8B for HSR all applied to the Corridor - the one sure bet Amtrak has - where the consultants have already been fed and the environment has already been impacted. But in view of that I didn't exactly hop off the Mayflower yesterday, I'm quite aware that just ain't how they do things in Wonderland.

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sfthunderchief
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
Mr. Thunderchief, I certainly accept that the proponents of a Kansas HSR project are in better straits for having a 'we want trains' resolution passed than not. I am also aware, then even though the proponents struck out with regards to ARRA '09 funding, the door for Federal funding is not closed, for if proper seed money is funded at Local level, then a grant application for FTA funding can be filed. However, I do not know (I'll bet Mr. Resor does) what is the 'you want it/you got it ratio" (the 12/1 ARRA '09 measurement often noted here) with the FTA.

I would have preferred to have seen the $8B for HSR all applied to the Corridor - the one sure bet Amtrak has - where the consultants have already been fed and the environment has already been impacted. But in view of that I didn't exactly hop off the Mayflower yesterday, I'm quite aware that just ain't how they do things in Wonderland.

Gilbert,

I have a friend who is one of the Alliance leaders. The Alliance began as a grass routes advocacy, basically studying the route and providing information to communities and officials in public meetings.

My friend told me that KDOT and ODOT have not been at all eager to see rail service develop, in fact these departments have been passive- agressively lazy. I also heard that the actions, or lack of action on the part of KDOT has really irritated senators and representatives in both parties and they are more and more fed up with KDOT demanding ever increasing highway funds, while not getting up from the lazy boy when it comes to taking steps to secure the lucrative funding available for passenger rail service.

KDOT has been quick to blame Amtrak for slowness, whine about this initiative being up to the legislature, and only acting when the legislature tells them to. After the transportation committee meeting last spring the KDOT secretary called up Amtrak seeking a shoulder to cry on "saying she had been read the riot act by the senate transportation committee."

As if in testament to what I've heard, it seems reasonable that the legislature may actually be getting fed up with the slow response of KDOT:

2 votes - 2 supermajority votes; 112-10 and 37-3 respectively.

This overides the Kansas Constitutional Prohibition myth associated with Article 11: Section 9.

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PullmanCo
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That is good news. Both bills cleared their house of origin in time for consideration in the other House.

In what legislation is the $125K that is Kansas' share of the SDP study? When is OK expected to approve their $125K?

The tough step, to me, now, is identifying a fleet of cars for this service. Amtrak has said they won't provide. Who is talking to the Buffett Road to see if Topeka Shops will do the renovation?

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sfthunderchief
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quote:
Originally posted by PullmanCo:
That is good news. Both bills cleared their house of origin in time for consideration in the other House.

In what legislation is the $125K that is Kansas' share of the SDP study? When is OK expected to approve their $125K?

The tough step, to me, now, is identifying a fleet of cars for this service. Amtrak has said they won't provide. Who is talking to the Buffett Road to see if Topeka Shops will do the renovation?

A few answers:

I asked about the $125,000. KDOT is expected to have that in their current budget, irrespective of the shortfall. KDOT and ODOT both made the committment upon ARRA application. KDOT/ODOT might reverse themselves (it wouldn't look good since they are accepting millions for other projects). KDOT had a similar amount of money available for the Amtrak study, and they the $15,000 available to join the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.

Second question. There is quite a bit of leeway in returning cars to service. They are coming out of the shops on a teady schedule. Even though Amtrak is equipment deficient, esp. for some types, new equipment purchases are promising.

For the Kansas expansion they're only talking 2-3 locomotives and perhaps 6 standard highlevels. Whether they state service purchases or leases is a real future question.

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PullmanCo
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quote:
Originally posted by sfthunderchief:


I asked about the $125,000. KDOT is expected to have that in their current budget, irrespective of the shortfall. KDOT and ODOT both made the committment upon ARRA application. KDOT/ODOT might reverse themselves (it wouldn't look good since they are accepting millions for other projects). KDOT had a similar amount of money available for the Amtrak study, and they the $15,000 available to join the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.


Your people cannot believe they've achieved victory for this year. You know the local situation as well as I. The K-12 educators are contemplating re-opening the lawsuit at District Court level. Parkinson is short big, big dollars and won't get his tax plans through.

The desirable solution is to have $125-250K line item appropriated to the SDP study. Don't bet on anyone else coming through with the funds, every state legislature in the Nation is no longer working with a paring knife, they're cutting with a meat cleaver.

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jlcks
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One problem with Kansas is it is a fly/drive state. They will drive from Salina, Wichita, and further to Kansas City International Airport to catch a flight. Down here in Southeast Kansas they drive to KCI, Tulsa, and Northwest Arkansas, its really a bigger selection down there now with walmart pushing a bigger airport and connections.
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sfthunderchief
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quote:
Originally posted by jlcks:
One problem with Kansas is it is a fly/drive state. They will drive from Salina, Wichita, and further to Kansas City International Airport to catch a flight. Down here in Southeast Kansas they drive to KCI, Tulsa, and Northwest Arkansas, its really a bigger selection down there now with walmart pushing a bigger airport and connections.

And it is this issue that has energized the effort to restore passenger rail in the state. The SB 409 authorization goes to the House for hearing at 1:30 on Wednesday. How about a few calls to your representative (is it Doug or someone else?) and your state senator registering your support?
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jlcks
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Already talked to my rep and senator about it. Just have to wait and see what happens.
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sfthunderchief
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The Passenger Rail Program Act SB-409 authorization passed in Kansas House today 115 yes and 5 no votes. The Interstate Passenger Rail Compact HR 2552 vote also passed in the Kansas Senate today 38 yes and 2 no votes. Both bills will be referred to the Governor for signature

The initiative for new service in Kansas has moved forward a little farther on a journey that is by no means complete and never believed to be quick and easy.

My friends who are members of the Norther Flyer Alliance understand that this statewide, community based effort is multifaceted and will take time (like it is taking all across the country).

Still, the Kansas senate transportation chair said last year that he didn't think that there would be any problem getting a 2/3rds vote in the legislature and I see now that he was correct.

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Gilbert B Norman
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I learned at another site that the referenced
study is out. Here is a Separate Executive Summary.

This ain't coming cheap.

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sfthunderchief
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
Learned at another site that this study is out:

http://www.ksdot.org/PDF_Files/FINAL-Amtrak-Study.pdf

KDOT Secretary Miller gave me 5 hard copies of the study today at the press conference. She asked to meet afterwards with the leadership of the Alliance. We discussed next steps for an hour and then went to lunch. Legislators present told Amtrak, BNSF, and KDOT that they intend to move forward with this effort, and want the Department of Transportation to not delay any of these next steps.

Regarding the capital costs. The Amtrak planning official present stated that all developments across the country are coming in with these extraordinarily high figures. The intent is 100% On-Time-Performance. In order to avoid the fines caused by freight rail delays, every proposed route contemplates enough sidings and sidings of sufficient length to make OTP all but guaranteed. Although this statement was not put in quotes, it is in fact a quote from one of the officials at the meeting today.

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PullmanCo
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From my post of March 27, 2008:

quote:
Originally posted by PullmanCo:
  • If you diagram traffic from KS to Dallas, the major nodes are KC, Wichita, Topeka and OKC. They are the only standard statistical areas on the route. Everything else is rural.

    For this to work, it has to have frequency density to make it worth my while vice absolute independence of auto or speed of air. Right now SWA runs 10 frequencies per day KCI-LUV and 4 frequencies KCI-OKC.

    I've also driven Dallas to Kansas City, and OKC to KC. Any train will have to "keep up the skeer" and maintain an average rate of advance greater than 60MPH. According to mapquest, I can get from KC-DAL in 8 hours 20 minutes by car.

    Anyone who thinks about this and does not resource both frequency and velocity dooms it to failure.

Alternatives 2 and 3: 606 miles in 738 minutes. That is one mile every minute and 12 seconds. That is a 50 MPH velocity vector. FAIL.

Looking at the Oct 25, 1959 ATSF, PTT, I find it interesting that the proposal includes a signficant velocity decrease. The Texas Chief SB advertised (PTT Oct 25, 1959) was 11hr 5 min (51.4MPH velocity vector) and NB was 10hr 50 min (55.5MPH velocity vector).

Looking further at the timetable, the delta in difference from the Ottawa cutoff to the Lawrence-Topeka-Emporia routing is 14 miles. There is but one station added. 1 hour 13 min to 1 hr 28 min velocity decrease for 14 miles and one station stop. FAIL

BTW, I will update my 2008 post: There are, indeed, now only 2 nonstops Kansas City-Oklahoma City. I account that to the current recession.

This preliminary report to me is more indicative of the capability of ATSF 3415 (a Baldwin Pacific now at the Abilene and Smoky Valley) and the coaches of the Midland Railway.

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sfthunderchief
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Governor Parkinson will have a ceremonial signing of the Passenger Rail Service Act for Kansas at 1:30 pm on April 8th in the capitol.

I received an invitation to attend this gathering this morning. I think it will be worth the trip over to Topeka.

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sfthunderchief
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Governor Parkinson invited NFA leaders and legislators to the ceremonial signing of the Passenger Rail Service Act for Kansas on April 8th in the capitol.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuwWDKSCalk

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PullmanCo
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Just talked to John Rosacker in KDOT Rail and Freight Division:

"When do you expect the Service Development Plan for Amtrak from Dallas to KC to be done?"

"We're going to try to have it done by the end of May, but there's no hard due date."

IN OTHER WORDS:

Not much chance of legislation in the 2011 Legislature.

Here's today's question: With Brownback in charge, when would a reasonable person hope for the first wheels to roll?

Answer: In the budget-unfriendly environment of Kansas (terminate all government support for public radio/tv, terminate government funding for the Kansas Arts Council, define "a suitable education"), don't hold your breath.

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PullmanCo
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Yesterday, Kansas Public Radio did a piece on Amtrak in Kansas:
http://www.kansaspublicradio.org/newsstory.php?itemID=28707

The young lady doing it interviewed both Ms Miller and Mr John Maddox of KDOT.

I found two points most interesting:

First, the price stickers at this point of the options in the extending service Kansas City to Dallas:
- Low End: $150 Million.
- High End: $500 Million.

Second, the timeline: As Mr Maddox said: "We're only at the beginning."

Now, if you live here in Flyover Country, you know that Kansas had to cut its FY2012 budget $800 million from FY2011. So, the ice water question, is, as always: "Whither the funding?" Let me give you a hint: Don't count on Feddybux.

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PullmanCo
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Well, here we are, watching Kansas from the East side of State Line Road. What have we learned recently?

Well, we've learned that Kansas does not have an effective consultant contracting mechanism. The Service Development Plan study is still out in the wild and has not gone public on the Kansas DOT website.

We've also learned the SuperDuper Committee failed, and mandatory recissions in budget authority are coming.

The teaching point is that Kansas should have applied under the true terms for HS dollars. 79MPH didn't get it done.

Oh ... Choose wisely the battles you wish to fight. Somewhat germane to the argument is where AMT 3/4 will be routed in the future. As I recall, the historic Santa Fe west of Newton in the direction of Raton and Albuquerque has been downgraded by Mr Buffett's BNSF managers. That slows the rate of advance of 3/4. I wonder how long it will be before the once Super Chief moves at the pace of the steam-era California Limited? (By the By, the Northern Flyer Alliance wants to tilt at this windmill, too.)

Finally what will that august American, that man who is so very respectful of his young voters, Governor Sam Brownback do when the study does come in?

May I suggest that those seeking additional Amtrak service in Kansas start looking at internal funding mechanisms? Chasing Feddybux may soon be a fools' errand.

We'll see what happens as Kansas approaches a new year and a new legislative session.

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PullmanCo
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Only two full months late, Kansas DOT has released its Service Development Plan:

Here's the Readers Digest Condensed Version:

- Prep/Startup costs: $136.5M to $475M depending on if it's the extension to Newton and cross platform transfer at 0300 (low end) or daylight service (high end).

- Equipment costs: $4M to add cars to the existing Flyer, $68M to buy a new train for daylight service.

- Annual subsidy:

Now it goes to the 2012 Kansas Legislature.

Gotta love this comment in the Introduction:
"The state supported passenger rail project under consideration connects Kansas City, MO with Fort Worth, TX using conventional passenger rail equipment operating at a top speed of 79 MPH."

Gotta love this line in the Introduction:
"The extended service to Newton (Heartland Flyer Extension) is estimated to require six years to implement, including environmental reviews, preliminary engineering, construction and commissioning. The development of the KC-OKC-FW Daytime Service or the long term possibility of Combined Services is expected to approach seven years from the start of the environmental studies.

So much for my timelines. As pessimistic as I was, I was hopelessly optimistic. 2020 is realistic.

Click here for the study

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Vincent206
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For one train a day, I don't think it would be wise to invest in 110 mph service. If the 79mph service is dependable, reliable and offered at convenient times, I think it will be attractive (and hopefully worth the wait).

Federal and state budgets are going to be tight for the rest of this decade, but every passenger who has a good experience with Amtrak may become a future pro-rail voter. So if investments in the River Runner are producing better service, anti-rail politicians may find more pushback when they bad-mouth rail investments and promote more money for highways and airports.

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PullmanCo
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Vincent,

The River Runner is in God's Country of MISSOURI

This proposal comes from sad sam brownback's miserable state of kansas.

If the actual velocity vector is not at least 60MPH, IMO there is little need for this. It's an anachronism. kansas has already shown they are not interested in building a route that will relieve KC-OKC-DFW traffic. One a day is a vitamin brand name, not a way to run a passenger rail operation with an eye to anything other than eyewash.

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

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PullmanCo
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Ms Miller has resigned as the Secretary of Transportation for the State of Kansas.

I hope the various advocates have been working their relationships for some time; Ms Barb Rankin, the current general counsel, is the interim Secretary.

http://www.kctv5.com/story/16343209/brownback-names-acting-kdot-secretary

Meanwhile, there is this small matter of the 2012 Legislature session to prepare for. Wonder if anyone is working on prefiling bills?

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RRCHINA
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Have any of us considered the California "estimate" for HSR and how it tripled. And for less miles than the 1/3 cost estimate.

Those who are being asked to appropriate taxpayer funds will be very dubius of any estimates by proponents.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Looks like Northern Flyer Alliance fed "the message" to two wire services - and got what they wanted in print:

McClatchy
Associated Press

Could NARP ever have such a field day?

All told, this seems like an underhanded way simply to get a dormant LD route restored. As I have consistently held throughout the entire Amtrak era, the LD's are not about moving people in an economic and efficient manner even though some "niche' groups find the service quite attractive. The LD's are simply about building political support so that what is a clearly, albeit essential, regional service - the Northeast Corridor - can garner Federal level funding.

Amtrak gets funded; the existing LD's are doing their job. Why have more?

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PullmanCo
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Where's the Earth Shattering Kaboom? There's supposed to be an Earth Shattering Kaboom!!!

NFA admits defeat. Development of this route is 10-20 years away.

What did I say back in 2009? Meet the specifications of the proposal. It's hard to get Feddybux when the grant proposal does not meet the minimums in the solicitation.

Get political support. Sammy's here, and he's not going away until at least 2014; if he's re-elected, 2018. He's not enamored with this idea.

http://www.northflyer.org/

I can't attach an image, so I'll quote a part of the page:

INTRODUCTION: The possibility the Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas corridor (TOK-Corridor) will be developed is highly unlikely, at least for the next 10 to 20 years. The region has missed its window. Government claims their hands are tied. The following is offered as evidence:

 -

So, for now, we wave goodbye at the retreating Adios drumhead as this effort moves into the sunset.

OBJECT LESSON: Political support and timing matter.

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Gilbert B Norman
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From Marriott Macon GA--

Mr. Pullman, a more apt comparasion would be with The Skyline Connection and all the rest of the nonsense that Warrington had in his Network Growth Strategy.

I noted the absence of any mention of rail by the President in the SOTU. The whole "$8B for HSR" was a bungle. I said it when ARRA '09 was enacted, and I say it again now.

It would have been great had the $8B been allocated to existing rail passenger agencies to be used for the backlog of "shovel ready" projects that any of them have. Instead it was parceled about the land with this Kansas charade, that was just an excuse to restore a needless Long Distance train, indicative of such.

Tomorrow Miami and a Cleveland Orchestra concert; Sat a client at The Villages, and Mike I'm on schedule for Sunday, in good health, and "Lex Noir" still runs like a champ - even if I'm not used to driving around, especially long trips, in an almost seven year old auto..

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Ocala Mike
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Enjoy your trip, Gil. Look for my 2004 white Ford Ranger in the parking lot or, less likely, my wife's 2006 gray Mazda 3, as a "loaner."

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Ocala Mike

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Vincent206
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The 3 mayors of Oklahoma City, Wichita and Kansas City KS have signed a letter supporting the idea of extending the Amtrak service northward to at least Wichita. Meanwhile, Kansas and Oklahoma are putting up money to get a federal grant to cover cost of the extension.

In 2010 it was estimated that an extension of the Heartland Flyer to Newton KS would require about $114 million in track improvements to support the new service. Stopping in Wichita would save money on start-up costs, but it would likely make connections to/from the SW Chief at Newton difficult.

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notelvis
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I would suggest that Wichita is more likely to gain scheduled Amtrak service when the Southwest Chief is rerouted away from Raton Pass than from any extension of the Heartland Flyer.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Oh where oh where hath you gone, Mr.
Thunderchief. You haven't been around since 2012 when the final nail was driven into the coffin of the ill-conceived Kansas HSR.

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DonNadeau
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quote:
Mr. Norman, perhaps we should really show our age and talk about Santa Fe's Texas Chief. A very classy streamliner (as were all ATSF trains) that operated on this route - plus a Houston section.
- Palmland

Loved both the El Capitan and the Texas Chief. Both were equally high-quality operations and both had the high-level coaches I loved.

Also showing my age here. [Smile]

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@DonNadeau

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PullmanCo
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From a friend who teaches at the University of Central Oklahoma, there is supposed to be an Amtrak inspection train working from OKC to KC today.

Of course, since I last updated this topic, Kansas' budget woes have not changed in the slightest, other than Gov. Brownback finally got overridden on his taxation policy.

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palmland
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This is certainly a logical extension of the HF. The odds of this happening and being successful would increasee if the following was true:
* The train is an extension of the SWC to Chicago
* There is sufficient trackage in Newton Falls to enable a split of the SWC for LA and Ft. Worth as is done in Spokane or San Antonio.
* There is sufficient equipment available to support the extension.
* Kansas/Texas actually fund the change.

I'm not holding my breath. But then, who would have thought a few years ago that we'd see trains to Roanoke and Norfolk.

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DonNadeau
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One thing I've never understood about the Heartland is why does it terminate in Fort Worth and not serve also Dallas, the larger of the two?

Amtrak uses multiple host railways elsewhere.

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@DonNadeau

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RRRICH
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With the new reroute of the Texas Eagle between DAL and FTW, would an HF extension be able to get to the new track to Dallas via a backup move from FTW? I looked at Google Earth, and it is difficult to tell whether that would be doable or not.
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DonNadeau
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Thinking about it why not just designate the Trinity Railway Express has a Thruway connection?

That way a more convenient and dependable connection (with easy ability to change if Heartland late unlike with the TE) could show in Arrow and also in the online Heartland timetable.

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@DonNadeau

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yukon11
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Here is a brief video on the Oklahoma City to Kansas City overnight train proposal. You have to get by 30 sec of commercial:

https://is.gd/NeuoRU

Richard

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