Friday, March 12, 2010

Heartland Flyer extension? Kansas, Amtrak release study

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Amtrak and the Kansas Department of Transportation have released a feasibility study for a possible intercity rail passenger service to link Kansas City and Fort Worth, Tex., thorough an extension of Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer, which currently links Fort Worth with Oklahoma City.

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Four alternatives were studied. One option, a daytime train linking Fort Worth and Kansas City’s Union Station in 12 hours, showed the bes tridership potential.

Amtrak currently operates in Union Station; other Kansas cities to be served by the extension include Topeka and Lawrence (both currently servedby Amtrak’s Southwest Chief), Emporia, and Wichita.

The state legislature must evaluate the options before Kansas officials seek state and federal funding. Any decision would also needbacking from Oklahoma and Texas. The state legislature has advanced legislative approval for the effort, which would authorize KDOT to enter into a passenger rail agreement. The bill has yet to be signed by Gov. Mark Parkinson.