MoDOT Gets Kansas City PTC Bill Lowered

Union Pacific and the Missouri Department of Transportation have reached an agreement about the division of costs for installing positive train control in Kansas City on the route that hosts Amtrak’s Missouri  River Runner trains.

The agreement cuts the cost that MoDOT will have to pay to install the federally-mandated safety system that is expected to cost $32 million in the Kansas City region.

Amtrak Missouri River RunnerMoDOT’s share had been put at $18 million, but officials said that number has been reduced to $7 million.

That occurred after transportation officials conducted a study that found that freight trains carrying hazard materials are heavy users of the track in Kansas City used by Amtrak.

Eric Curtit, the railroads administrator at MoDOT, said freight railroads therefore will pay more of the costs for the PTC system that initially had been assessed to MoDOT and Amtrak.

“We argued that we should not have to bear the full (cost) given the amount of hazardous material moving through the area,” he said.

At one point last year, Amtrak had threatened to cease operating its St. Louis-Kansas City trains because it said it could not afford its share to install PTC in either city.

MoDOT said the agreement on sharing the PTC costs in Kansas City means that the River Runner service will continue uninterrupted.

“We’ve reached a working agreement that’s fair to all parties,” Curtit said.

Missouri state senator David Pearce said the agreement will allow MoDOT to pay its share of the PTC costs over several years.

Curtit noted that federal law requires all rail routes hosting hazardous cargo to have a PTC system in place.

The cost to install PTC in St. Louis is expected to be lower than it is in Kansas City, but cost estimate has not yet been determined.

“They’re not as far along as Kansas City,” Curtit said.

Union Pacific will pay all costs of installing PTC on track that lies outside the Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas.

“There’s a huge cost between Kansas City and St. Louis,” Curtit said, saying that the total cost for PTC installation statewide is estimated at $62 million.

Railroads have until 2018 to install and turn on their PTC systems. UP has said that it expects to meet that deadline.

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