Amtrak service to and from KC could come to an end

Amtrak service to and from Kansas City could end

Safety is Amtrak’s top priority. Amtrak is a leader in the installation of PTC along tracks it owns / operates along the Northeast Corridor (NEC). Amtrak is on schedule to activate PTC in the NEC by the Federally mandated deadline of Dec 31, 2015. Amtrak has also installed and is operating PTC along the 97 miles of track it owns in Michigan.

Installation of PTC is the legal responsibility of the railroad that owns the track. Amtrak’s Southwest Chief and River Runner services operate a total of 6 times per day over track owned by Kansas City Terminal (KCT).

KCT has estimated that its cost to install PTC is about $32M and is seeking to recover the full amount of the installation cost from Amtrak in a railroad arbitration proceeding. Amtrak’s position in the arbitration is that it must pay KCT only the “incremental cost” (the standard set forth by federal law) of PTC triggered solely by the presence of Amtrak trains on a route, taking into account the benefits KCT will incur from PTC. However, Amtrak currently is not funded by Congress or our state partners to pay PTC costs to freight railroads.

Given the priority for safety, compliance with federal law, and lack of available funding for the installation of PTC, Amtrak has little choice but to reroute or possibly terminate the Southwest Chief and the River Runnerservice by the end of 2015. Amtrak continues to call upon the KCT and elected officials to reach a solution.

Marc Magliari, Spokesperson for Amtrak

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FRA Holds Workshop on Regional Passenger Trains

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) held a multi-state Intercity Passenger Rail workshop in North Texas this week, the first in a series of meetings designed to familiarize and help coordinate passenger rail planning activities across the region.

The first of its kind workshop in the Southwest was attended by Department of Transportation rail planners from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas along with members of various Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Rail Advocacy organizations.

The FRA presented its “CONNECT” software to state rail officials to show how “mega-region” travel demand can affect corridor passenger rail plans. The FRA will take input from the various DOT’s and through the CONNECT software, will help in the initial determination of viable Intercity Passenger Rail services.

Continue reading Here.

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The Heartland Flyer Expansion is discussed on KTOK radio on OKC

January 20, 2013

The Gwin Faulconer Lippert Show on KTOK radio in Oklahoma City.

Gwin interviewed Pete Mietzner, who is a Wichita City Councilman, about the expansion of the Heartland Flyer into Kansas.  Our thanks to Gwin and Pete for moving our cause forward.

Listen to the show here.

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All Aboard, Wichita?

The call of “All aboard!” still seems more of a dream than a likelihood. But credit Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner with getting things moving toward bringing passenger trains back to Wichita.

With support from his council colleagues, Meitzner has spent nine months investigating the viability of a northern route into Kansas for Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer, which now links Dallas-Fort Worth to Oklahoma City. And key elements of such an extension have started coming together.

The Kansas Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration have signaled that a completed initial planning study “is a good first step that gets us in the game,” Meitzner told The Eagle, with the next necessary steps an environmental study and a regional passenger-rail workshop. An interim legislative committee also encouraged the idea in November, agreeing that passenger rail was an important investment for the state.

Meanwhile, commercial developer Gary Oborny has a letter of intent to buy the old Union Station with plans to revive its use as a rail terminal as well as renovate it into a hospitality, office and retail development.

Continue reading here.

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Amtrak Performance Impovement for the Southwest Chief

At the end of 2012, Amtrak release a report on improvements that could be made to the long distance train routes.  There is some interesting reading about the improvements to the Southwest Chief that are worth reading.

The document can be found here.

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The big-picture argument for passenger rail

The big-picture argument for passenger rail -
Wichita’s passenger rail hopes gaining steam

Emily Behlmann
Web producer-
Wichita Business Journal

The advocates who are pushing for passenger rail in Wichita aren’t just interested in accessing a fun new mode of transportation in downtown Wichita.
As I worked on a story for this week’s Wichita Business Journal about the effort to extend Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer route through Wichita, I kept hearing these broad discussions about our city’s economic future.
First, a rundown of what the Northern Flyer Alliance and other advocates are trying to achieve: Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer ends and turns around in Oklahoma City. The Southwest Chief runs east and west across Kansas, passing through Kansas City, Newton and Garden City. The alliance wants to connect the two, extending the Heartland Flyer north, through Wichita and into Newton.

Continue reading here.

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Kansas Legislators Recommend Moving Forward With Passenger Rail Study

Monday, October 29, 2012 (Reported by KAKE)

The Kansas Legislative Interim Committee on Transportation recommended going forward with a study for the expansion of the Northern Flyer today.

“We still want to connect Texas and Oklahoma up through us and we don’t want it going to Tulsa and bypassing our state,” said Pete Meitzner, Wichita city council member.

Meitzner along with council member, James Clendenin, went to Topeka to present a business case for passenger rail service through Wichita.

“What we’ve tried to take is a real honest approach. We’ve found that by riding it, you have productive hours versus non-productive hours if you had to drive the same length,” he said.

Others who supported passenger rail said it’s the idea of connecting commerce in the region.

Continue reading here.

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Wichita Council Member Supports Passenger Rail Study

Wichita Council Member, Pete Meitzner was on KAKE TV talking about the rail study to get passenger rail service through Wichita.  The service would run from Kansas City to Fort Worth.

Click here for the story

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Council member wants Wichita to stay involved in passenger rail discussions

Passenger rail service is back on Wichita’s radar, with an eye toward the economic benefits of luring the Heartland Flyer to downtown’s Union Station.

But apparently it’s not on the radar of state transportation officials, the first significant obstacle in what local and state officials admit is a long-term economic development vision.

Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner is leading the city’s investigation into the viability of passenger rail. The Newton City Commission — Newton is the current Amtrak depot for the area — also has expressed interest in the Heartland Flyer.

And now is the right time to be checking out rail, Meitzner said, with federal officials choosing between two proposed routes to extend the Heartland Flyer line north of Oklahoma City. One route would take the line north through Oklahoma City to Wichita, and the other would miss Wichita and veer off to the northeast through Tulsa and Joplin to St. Louis.

Read more here:

Note: This story was also on the front page of the Arkansas City Traveler for May 31, 2012 as well as the Wichita Eagle for May 27, 2012.

The American Planning Association carried the story here.

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Major Changes at Chicago’s Union Station

CHICAGO, June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Mortenson Construction has brought the Great Hall at Union Station and its attached 8-story office building into the 21st century while preserving its historic heritage. As part of a $25 million infrastructure improvement project funded by Union Station owner Amtrak and project-managed by Jones Lang LaSalle, Mortenson Construction upgraded or replaced the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems while installing fire safety equipment, including sprinklers and fire alarms to help make the 87-year-old building compliant with city regulations and set the stage to market the upper floors for tenants.

Continue Reading Here

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