Oklahoma Passenger Service Plan Falls Through

A plan to expand intercity rail passenger service in Oklahoma has fallen through because the railroad that was to provide the service has ended its participation in the six-month pilot program.

The Stillwater Central Railroad told the Oklahoma Department of Transportation it would be unable to meet an Aug. 4 deadline to launch the service between Del City and Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

The railroad, which is owned by Watco, cited “changing conditions” but did not elaborate on those in a news release other than to say passenger service is no longer financially viable.

The passenger service pilot program was a requirement of the $75 million sale of the Sooner Sub rail line to Stillwater Central in 2014 by ODOT.

The Stillwater Central had agreed to provide the passenger service at no cost to the state or taxpayers.

ODOT said Stillwater Central has met all other provisions in the sale agreement and will pay ODOT $2.8 million in liquidated damages.

“The department is disappointed that the pilot program didn’t launch, as it would he helped determine the long-term viability of passenger service on this line,” state officials said. “ODOT will continue to be open to and explore other options from the private sector for a cost-effective solutions for future passenger service.”

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