Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner’

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.

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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.

2 Missouri Stations Among Amtrak’s Best

December 8, 2016

The Missouri Department of Transportation said Amtrak stations in Kirkwood and Washington ranked among the nation’s Top 10 Amtrak stations in the nation in 2016 for overall customer satisfaction.

Amtrak Missouri River RunnerThe rankings are based on such factors as cleanliness, boarding process, and friendliness.

Kirkwood was tied for first, while Washington was tied for eighth.

MODOT Administrator of Railroads Eric Curtit said the rankings were reflective of the communities the stations serve.

“The stops add to their economic development and overall prosperity,” Curtit said in a statement.

Both cities are served by the St. Louis-Kansas City Missouri River Runner trains.

 

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.

Multi-Ride Ticket Limits Extended in Missouri

August 16, 2016

The 10-ride ticket policy for travel on the St. Louis-Kansas City Missouri River Runner service has been changed to allow passengers a longer period of time to use their tickets.

Amtrak Missouri River RunnerA 10-ride ticket purchased on or after Aug. 15 will be valid for 180 days, which is triple the limit of previous tickets.

All multi-ride Tickets are refundable and exchangeable prior to first use, but they are not transferable.

These tickets can be purchased at Amtrak.com, using Amtrak’s mobile apps or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

$5 Kid Tickets Offered for Travel to Missouri State Fair

July 19, 2016

Amtrak is offered a $5 children’s fare keyed to travel to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.

The fare applies to up to two children ages 2-12 when accompanied by an adult traveling at the regular fare.

Amtrak Missouri River RunnerThe fares are good on the state-funded Missouri River Runner trains during the fair’s Aug. 11-21 run in Sedalia.

Reservations should be made using discount code V523 through Aug. 20 and must be made at least one day in advance of travel.

Look for the “Deals” tab at Amtrak.com or call Amtrak reservations at 800-USA-RAIL.

The offer is valid for coach seats and is dependent upon availability.

Amtrak’s Sedalia station is located three miles from the fairgrounds and taxi service information will be available on the train and at the station.

The Missouri River Runner also serves St. Louis, Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee’s Summit, Independence and Kansas City.