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T O P I C     R E V I E W
Member # 5619
 - posted
Link: "Oklahoma City Council supports extending Amtrak to Kansas"


See earlier thread: "Kansas cities support Amtrak routes to Dallas area"

Member # 7204
 - posted
The organization that is leading the effort is having a symposium in Pauls Valley on the Heartland Flyer route on May 31st, and a follow-up meeting in Oklahoma City for officials on June 10th.

Kansas Department of Transportation has had over 2000 thousand letters letters delivered to their office that were received by Governor Sebelius in the last 4 months and handed over to them for response.

About two dozen mayors from Lawrence to Arkansas City and also in Oklahoma have issued resolutions and are pressuring their senators and representatives for legislative action next year. All of these cities are insisting on daytime service.

The person I know who is in tight with the Alliance leadership told me that all of this activity has been generated with no budget or financial support. A few people offer money at the public meetings that have been held, but the Alliance does not really do any fundraising, but they seem to have a lot of support.

The organization had a meeting in December at Union Station Kansas City. I hear there may be another meeting there or somewhere in late summer.

The Alliance's officials have been meeting with state legislators, and they think there are quite a number who are willing to co-sponsor legislation next year that will seek to tap into the funding proposed in Senate Bill S-294 and recent House Bill (HR 6003?)
Member # 4205
 - posted
They're insisting on daytime service? Sounds naive, for it won't connect with any other train, and connections are everything with LD trains. Someone needs to teach them about the basics of Amtrak.
Robert L
Member # 3144
 - posted
And, someone needs to teach Amtrak about the basics of alternating daylight and night service on the same LD lines.
Connections also means having more LD service available to areas otherwise only served in the dark hours.
I know it's the money thing, but it's also the
will thing. Everyone, everyone!, needs to be involved not just where the rails cross their property [town, station, whatever], but also those LD connections.
Gilbert B Norman
Member # 1541
 - posted
What you are advocating, Mr. Robert L, is not less than "two a day" over any route and on "flip flop' schedules, i.e. 6AM and 6PM.

As I have often pointed out here at the forum, the Class I railroad industry is not here to subserve their freight operations for the convenience of Amtrak. Any actions by any party to disrupt the existing movement of freight would adversely impact the economy to a far greater extent than would any increase in passenger train service benefit such.

In short, with regards to Long Distance trains (LD's), if you are an advocate of such, be thankful there is what there is, as I doubt if there are going to be too many more - $5/ga notwithstanding.

disclaimer; hold positions in BNI and NSC.
Member # 7204
 - posted
Originally posted by delvyrails:
They're insisting on daytime service? Sounds naive, for it won't connect with any other train, and connections are everything with LD trains. Someone needs to teach them about the basics of Amtrak.

Well, I would have to agree with you that the mayors and city council, chamber of congress and the key state senators are mostly naive about rail operations. There doesn't seem to be many foamers involved either. It is a state that hasn't seen a daylight operation in two generations. But their perspective is that they see this happening around the country and want their own connecting intercity passenger rail service. I believe many of them are not thinking about transportation to LA or New York, or Denver, or Seattle. The comments in the Topeka and Wichita papers focus on economic development, revitalization of main streets, and downtowns. The state highway systems in the midwest now mostly bypass the downtowns on most communities by 2-5 miles. People in these towns want to travel from Topeka to Wichita or Kansas City or Jefferson City, or Oklahoma City other than by car. They say it isn't about the time to get there, it is the method.

Intercity bus has all but vanished from Kansas and many seniors groups would like to travel by this method. They are also putting pressure on the State to redevelop intercity rail service.

Teachers want to take classes to the state Capitol by train rather than the entire distance by school bus. Part of the issue with field trips these days is the cost to the district. Its a little easier to buy a package deal over Amtrak and not have to find a bush driver that will have to make the entire event an overnight, with overtime.

Class I railroads are (of course) not encouraging anything and we know they would prefer to see it die on the vine. But the communities are not oblivious to what happened just to the south (Oklahoma City to Fort Worth) on the same Class I, 9 years ago and they want a piece of the $50 million dollar action that accrued for those towns. This seems to be the ype of sentiment apparent in Illinois and Iowa.

They have got wind of these other proposals and that it may happen over routes that will require major rehab. So then they see that it can be had in Kansas for about 12 million (based on a state commisssioned engineering study produced a couple of years ago.) Annual operations are estimated at 6-7 million, and the route and sheduling being talked about resembles the Illinois (Rutledge) and Missouri (Mule) operations.

So the idea seems to be to by a trainset, run it from Oklahoma City to Kansas City in the morning, which allows an afternoon connection to St. Louis and on to Chicago on the Rutledge. They realize that it doesn't connect to the Chief, but doesn't seem to be the goal. If the States want more there will probably be a push for an extension and 3:00am connection to the Chief in Newton-but that will be a different train. Also, there is another initiative that is organizing to push for a connection between Kansas City and Omaha through St. Joseph, Missouri. It seems to have sprung forth from the city council and chamber and is emboldened, I think, by Quad Cities and the Norther Flyer Alliance.

All of this information has been published and broadcast over the last 10 months. It is the collective lobbying of over two dozen communities, and state legislators are also among those pushing for this.

I almost sense it isn't as much about the price of a gallon, as a sense of this region saying "OK we've let a lot of other places have their turn, now it's our turn." Energy, economy and environment issues certainly don't hurt the cause though.
Member # 1138
 - posted
Just so everyone understands, the 2008 session of the Kansas Legislature has adjourned. Further, remember the KS-DOT report, contracted to Amtrak is not due until after the 2009 session.


Either the legislature acts next year absent a report or...

2010 session of the legislature is the first with meaningful hard numbers.

BNSF btw, has been working the old Q mainline from Murray Yard Northtown to St Joe quite a bit recently. Just re-laid the welded rail. I'll be interested to see how a run from KC-St Joe deals with the traffic extant on the line. Trains ran an article a couple years ago about traffic densities out of KC. Looks to me like Amtrak would have to pick up the tab for doubletracking the Q to get time on the line.

Further, MO isn't KS. I'll have to have lunch with Jason Brown and Charlie Shields to see what their read on how the General Assembly would deal with another proposal to spend money on Amtrak. As I recall, it was a tough road this year for the annual operating appropriation for the 2d turn daily to St Louis.
Member # 7204
 - posted
Originally posted by PullmanCo:
Further, MO isn't KS. I'll have to have lunch with Jason Brown and Charlie Shields to see what their read on how the General Assembly would deal with another proposal to spend money on Amtrak. As I recall, it was a tough road this year for the annual operating appropriation for the 2d turn daily to St Louis.

It's been a tough road every year in Missouri. There is the annual silliness in the Missouri General Assembly, and it is silly because each year they perform the same dumb routine wih the House voting to cut Amtrak funding in half and doing away with one of the trains (the press always reports this) and the the Senate votes the rest of the money and things are as before. All the while, the nitwit Governor makes critical remarks about the train service that the state really benefits from and should be grateful and delighted to have.

And 2009 will (probably) be no different.

But does anyone sense that these old tapes that have been played may be changing?

Is there any difference in the passenger rail environment today, as opposed to two years ago? Or is it just status quo, and all the effort that has developed across the country, the articles, the news stories, the federal legislation, the organization of grass "routes"
initiatives are merely a figment of imagination.
Gilbert B Norman
Member # 1541
 - posted
Mr. Thunderchief, I would guess most here, save a "political junkie" such as talk show host Chris Matthews readily admits being, would enjoy the Florida model applying to any rail passenger service - a permanent funding base.

But even that has a drawback; in Florida that base, such as a "Sales" or Motor Fuel tax, must be imposed at County level. That is why intrastate Florida rail service seems to move forth as regional service, i.e. Tri Rail and the Central FL initiative, and not some kind of intrastate intercity system - for which there could well be a market.

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