Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Missouri’

Missouri River Runner Ridership up in Jefferson City

November 20, 2017

The Missouri Department of Transportation reported that ridership on the Missouri River Runners spiked 5 percent between July and October at Jefferson City.

Thus far this year, ridership has been 13,950. Last year’s patronage for the same period was 13,330.

MDOT Officials believe the ridership boost has been the result of increased gas prices and successful summer promotions attracting new riders.

Officials had blamed falling gasoline prices for a decline in ridership of the  St. Louis-Kansas City trains.


Kirkwood Taking Lead on Station Renovation

May 8, 2017

Kirkwood, Missouri, officials say the city plans to take an active role in infrastructure improvements planned for the Amtrak station.

The work include a storm water drainage project and renovation of the former Missouri Pacific depot, which dates from 1893.

The city has asked the Kirkwood Train Station Foundation to delay its fundraising activities on behalf of the station until planning is finished.

The group is comprised of volunteers who work at the station, which is the third busiest Amtrak stop in Missouri.

Aside from serving four Missouri River Runner trains a day between St. Louis and Kansas City, the station is rented about 250 times a year for private parties and events. The city acquired the station in 2003.

Kirkwood Chief Administrative Officer Russell Hawes said the storm water project is expected to cost $2 million while station rehabilitation will cost an estimated $3.5 million.

The renovation will include tuckpointing; converting the current baggage room to bathrooms; adding a platform on the east side of the building; replacing flooring, roofing, paneling and lighting; and soundproofing the ceiling.

Amtrak plans to fund installation of a new handicapped-accessible station platform and some new exterior and interior electronic arrival and departure signs, as well as other customer amenities.

Hawes said the design work will take about six months and construction is expected to begin in the next year or so.

The station will remain open during the renovation work.

Missouri River Runners May Resume on Saturday

May 6, 2017

Amtrak expects to resume service on Saturday between St. Louis and Kansas City after Union Pacific reopened its route between the two cities.

UP also said it has restored service on the line used by the Texas Eagle between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

“As water levels recede in several areas, we have made significant progress restoring service to flood-impacted rail lines on our network,” UP said in a service advisory. “Service has been restored between St. Louis and Jefferson City, Missouri; and between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

Flooding from heavy rains washed out tracks and also caused mudslides during the past week.

The Missouri River Runners between St. Louis and Kansas City were replaced by buses during the service disruption.

Flooding Cancels Missouri River Runners

May 4, 2017

Flooding in Missouri has prompted Amtrak to substitute buses for the Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said the twice-daily roundtrips Runners are expected to be sidelined until Saturday due to flooding that has closed the Union Pacific route used by the trains.

Amtrak is chartering buses to replace the canceled trains but service may be unavailable to some cities due to local road closures and/or bus availability.

The buses are also unable to fully match the Amtrak schedules, Amtrak said in the advisory.

It was the second time this week that flooding in Missouri has disrupted Amtrak service. The Texas Eagle has been forced to detour between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff due to flooding along it regular route.

Union Pacific said in a service advisory that the Meramec River near St. Louis is rising rapidly, leading to additional flooding and cutting off rail access from St. Louis to Jefferson City, Missouri. Several areas of track are currently underwater, with water levels continuing to rise as additional rain is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday.

“Service remains suspended between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri; and Mt. Vernon and Chester, Illinois. Work to repair damage caused by washouts and mudslides along these areas of track continues where it is safe to do so,” UP said in its advisory.

Missouri River Runner Ridership up in 2017

April 26, 2017

Ridership aboard Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner trains increased 1 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

“For January through March, we were up nearly 1 percent from this time last year,” said Kristi Jamison, Missouri Department of Transportation railroad operations manager. “In January, we were up 10 percent, but that went down in February and March.”

Boardings in Jefferson City fell by 0.5 percent during the period.

“I still believe we’re being affected by low gas prices, and we’re still seeing fewer riders coming into St. Louis because of work on a high-speed rail service to Chicago,” Jamison said. “The infrastructure on that should be done by the end of this year, so we’ll see how we rebound from there.”

Jamison said 30 percent of River Runner passengers make connections with other Amtrak trains in St. Louis or Kansas City.

“So when you have delays like what we’ve seen in construction of the high-speed rail service in Illinois, that drops the ridership level,” she said.

The on-time performance of the Missouri River Runners was 90 percent for the first quarter, with some delays caused by freight traffic congestion.

“We also benefited from a mild winter, which decreases delays caused by cold weather and its effects on the tracks,” Jamison said.

MoDOT does not expect any changes in the service level regardless of how much funding the Missouri legislature allots for the service.

In 2017, the service was initially allotted $9.6 million, but Gov. Eric Greitens withheld $500,000 from that amount, making the intercity rail passenger budget $9.1 million.

MoDOT requested $14.1 million for the Missouri River Runners for fiscal year 2018, but Greitens has recommended approving $9.1 million. The House approved that amount but the Senate has not yet acted on the budget.

“We’re not anticipating any changes to our service due to the level of state funding we’re getting,” Jamison said.

In the meantime, Amtrak and MoDOT have announced two fare promotions that will run through the end of August.

They include mid-week fare sales with a 25 percent discount when traveling Tuesday through Thursday and a Kids Ride Free sale for weekend travel Friday through Sunday for children ages 2-12 when accompanied by a full-fare paid adult.

Reservations are required at least one day in advance of travel. The Missouri River Runners operate twice a day between St. Louis and Kansas City with intermediate stops at Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee’s Summit and Independence.

MoDOT Says Missouri River Runner Service Will Continue Despite Taking a $500,000 Budget Cut

January 18, 2017

The Missouri Department of Transportation has said Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will continue to operate at its current level despite a budget cut.

Amtrak Missouri River RunnerMissouri Gov. Eric Greitens in a budget submitted this week announced a $500,000 cut in MoDOT’s budget for rail service as part of a larger $146 million budget reduction.

Missouri funds two roundtrips a day between the Show Me State’s largest cities.

MoDOT is paying Amtrak $9.6 annually to operate the service, which serves 10 stations.

Michelle Teel, director of multimodal programs at the Missouri Department of Transportation said that passengers should see no change in the schedule for the foreseeable future.

The governor’s office said in a news release that most of the budget cuts were aimed at rolling back earmarks, new spending items, programs with no established track record of success, and services that are duplicated elsewhere in government.

The $500,000 cut will be rolled into what MoDOT will owe Amtrak in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Teel said MoDOT will negotiate with Amtrak on how to close the funding gap. One option might be to increase fares.

Missouri River Runner ridership in the past fiscal year, which last June 30 was down 7.3  percent from the previous year. Amtrak said ridership was 172,032.

Fund Raising Campaign to Begin in February for Overhaul of Amtrak Station in Kirkwood, Missouri

December 29, 2016

The Kirkwood Train Foundation will launch in February a $3 million fund-raising campaign to pay for rehabilitating the Missouri city’s Amtrak station.

Amtrak Missouri River RunnerBuilt in 1893, the structure served Missouri Pacific passenger trains for decades before Amtrak arrived on May 1, 1971. Officials believe the station was last renovated in the 1940s.

“It is the main symbol of the city of Kirkwood,” said Art McDonnell, foundation member and former mayor in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.

Among the work that will be done is replacing the roof and tuckpointing the exterior.

The former baggage room will house modern and expanded restrooms.  Some window and stone restoration work will also be done.

The depot was in danger of closing more than a decade ago, but the city purchased it.

Since 2003, volunteers have overseen the station creating a model operation that has been emulated in other cities served by Amtrak.

A suburb of St. Louis, Kirkwood has 27,000 residents and is served by the St. Louis-Kansas City Missouri River Runners.

In Amtrak’s early years, Kirkwood was a stop for the New York-Kansas City National Limited. After that train was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979, the state of Missouri began helping fund Amtrak service.

Until the Missouri River Runner service came about, Kirkwood was on the routes of the Chicago-Kansas City Ann Rutledge and the Kansas City-New Orleans River Cities.

Today, Kirkwood is the third busiest Amtrak station in Missouri. This month, the train station tied for first place in a 2016 Amtrak customer satisfaction survey.

Santa Claus Coming to Town on Amtrak

November 21, 2016

Santa Claus has ditched his sleigh and reindeer and will take Amtrak to visit Washington, Missouri, on Dec. 2.

Amtrak Missouri River RunnerSanta will be aboard Missouri River Runner No. 313, which is scheduled to arrive in Washington at 5:06 p.m.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit with children and their families inside the Washington station for about one hour. From there he will move on to the Elks Club hall in Washington.

Arcadia Valley Amtrak Service Begins Nov. 20

November 9, 2016

Although a grand opening has been set for Nov. 17, Amtrak service to Arcadia Valley, Missouri, won’t begin until Nov. 20.

Amtrak Texas EagleThat is because delays are expected to trains arriving in Arcadia Valley on Nov. 18 and 19 due to scheduled detours between Chicago and St. Louis.

Served by the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle, trains times at Arcadia Valley are westbound at 10:02 p.m. and 4:19 a.m. eastbound.

The Nov. 17 ceremony will include a platform ribbon cutting and open house at 2 p.m. Some participants will board a chartered bus to St. Louis and ride the Eagle back to Arcadia Valley to participate in another ceremony.

The Arcadia Valley station is a brick depot built in 1941 by the Missouri Pacific to serve Arcadia and Ironton.

After its purchase by a community group in 2006 it became a visitors center and museum.

Arcadia Eyes Nov. 18 as Amtrak Startup Date

October 21, 2016

Arcadia Valley, Missouri, is eyeing a Nov. 18 date to become a regular stop for the Texas Eagle.

Although the station facilities there need to pass an inspection, city officials are optimistic that the start of service is less than a month away.

Amtrak Texas EagleThe inspection will be conducted to ensure that the station facilities meet ADA standards.

Carol Kelsheimer, president of Our Town Tomorrow, said complying with those standards has been costly. She noted that one Amtrak sign alone costs $1,900

“It’s hard to have a budget when every time you turn around, somebody else comes in and says, ‘OK, you’ve got to have three instead of two and that’s another $2,000.’ Another thing we want to do, but we may have to wait on because of the cost is resealing the parking lot, adding some more parking in front of the caboose and striping,” Kelsheimer said.

Kelsheimer said officials hope to have a grand opening on Nov. 18 to mark the arrival of the first Eagle at 10:30 p.m.

The train to San Antonio is expected to arrive in Arcadia Valley at 10:30 p.m. while its Chicago-bound counterpart is expected to arrive between 4:30 and 5 a.m.

The Texas Eagle has other stops in Missouri at St. Louis and Poplar Bluff.

Kelsheimer said a group of railroad enthusiasts from St. Louis is expected to ride the first train to stop in Arcadia Valley. The group will return to St. Louis by bus after touring the museum in Arcadia.

The coming of Amtrak is expected to spur economic development.

“We’ve just had the Iron Mule restaurant open over the weekend and then we’ve got another restaurant that we just signed a contract with,” said Sandy Francis, director of Partnership Development for Iron County Economic Partnership. “We have one company — they haven’t actually submitted their bid yet — but they’re going to be working on getting a rental car agency that we need here.”

Francis said residents of nearby Fredericktown and Farmington are excited about the Amtrak stop getting started.

Kelsheimer said a local businessman in town has a shuttle service and he plans to serve the Amtrak station for a year by taking people to local motels and then bringing them back.

“He’s also opened up a tour company and he’s already set up a website and I think he has maybe four tours planned. One is a battle tour and one is a wine tour that takes you to Caledonia and back. One of Elephant Rocks State Park and one that’s just a general Arcadia Valley tour that takes in a lot of the historic sites downtown,” she said.

Arcadia Valley has been working for five years to get the Amtrak stop established.