Posts Tagged ‘Fort Worth Texas’

Renovated OKC Station Opens

December 8, 2017

The former Santa Fe station in downtown Oklahoma City has reopened following the completion of the first phase of its renovation and restoration.

The station, which is the northern terminus of Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer route, opened in 1934.

The restoration project restored the interior of the station to what it looked like in the 1930s.

This included matching paint from samples chipped from the wall and installing replica art deco light fixtures.

A new sculpture, titled Connectivity and created by Marsh Scott, fills the window over the west entrance.

Additional limestone traced to the same Texas quarry as the original pieces was also used in the restoration work.

“This is a gem to be involved in,” said Rick Lueb of TAP Architecture.

Most of the money for the $28.4 million project was provided by a federal transportation grant.

Lueb said photographs provided by a railroad enthusiast proved invaluable in recreating the original station.

Aside from serving Amtrak, the station will house city transit offices and retail businesses.

The next phase of the project will involve building a tunnel under the tracks to create a walkway to Bricktown and a plaza. That work is expected to be finished in June 2019.

OKC Mayor Mick Cornett said the restoration shows community values at work, preserving what could be lost.

The Heartland Flyer operates daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, where it connects with Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The OKC station might also some day serve a proposed light rail line.

Group Studies Southern Rail Route

September 7, 2017

A Texas-based group is studying establishment of Amtrak service between Fort Worth, Texas, and Atlanta by filling in a missing link in the route.

The I-20 Corridor Council is seeking to get the states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi to press for restoration of rail passenger service on a 345-mile stretch between Marshall, Texas, and Meridian, Mississippi.

Marshall is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle whereas the Meridian is served by the New York-New Orleans Crescent.

The Eagle runs through Fort Worth while the Crescent runs through Atlanta.

Richard Anderson, chairman of the I-20 Council, said passenger service over the link ended more than 50 years ago.

“The concept is to have all three states pushing for this passenger rail service,” Anderson said. “It would benefit all three states — it would benefit the entire South.”

The I-20 Council is seeking to create a direct route from Mississippi to Texas as well as increase service in communities already served by Amtrak.

Anderson said capacity study is under way and depending what it shows, “ . . . we hope that we can get people to sit down at the table.”

Amtrak studied the Meridian-Marshall route in 2015 and concludes that the connection would not require an annual operating subsidy from any of the three states.

However, launching passenger service would require capital investment “to be paid by the states and/or federal government once the capacity study is completed and negotiations occur between Amtrak and host railroads.”

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier is working with the I-20 Council.

“We’re taking this one step at a time and we’re excited at the prospect,” he said. “There is a great group of people in east Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“There’s a lot of demand for additional services around the country… Because people don’t like doing what I’m doing — talking while driving. They would much rather be talking to you from a train while riding.”

Also backing the proposal is the Southern Rail Commission, which has listed the Meridian-Marshall link as among its top priorities for expanded rail passenger service.

Hearing Set on Heartland Flyer Extension

August 24, 2017

The Oklahoma legislature will conduct a hearing on Sept. 6 to discuss extending the Heartland Flyer into Kansas.

The train currently operates between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, but a movement is underway to extend operation of the train to Newton, Kansas, where it could connect with Amtrak’s Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

There has also been discussion about extending the Flyer to Kansas City, Missouri.

Newton Mayor Barth Hague and Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell plan to travel to the hearing to testify in support of the extension. Wichita has been without Amtrak service since October 1979.

Oklahoma is looking to build on an earlier study done by the state of Kansas.

The Heartland Flyer is funded primarily by Oklahoma with some funding coming from the state of Texas.

“Right now that train is funded by Texas and Oklahoma, so we certainly cannot do anything without working with them, and they want to work on it,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

The move to extend the Heartland Flyer into Kansas dates back to at least 2008.

A 2012 study conducted by the Kansas Department of Transportation estimated the cost of improvements needed for extension to Newton route would be $87.5 million.

Extending the Flyer to Kansas City would cost about $245.5 million.

“There will be need for an effort to put some good, positive advocacy pressure on our state to jump forward to provide funding,” Hague said.

Hague noted that the 2012 cost estimates have been changed several times.

“What Amtrak and BNSF have figured out is there might be a way to extend the line without ($100 million) in track improvements,” Hague said.

Amtrak ran an inspection train on the route on June 9.

The Eagle’s Nest in Fort Worth

November 2, 2016

texas-eagle-at-fort-worth-march-15-2005

Few Amtrak trains are named after a state they serve. Two notable exceptions are the California Zephyr and the Texas Eagle.

Both honor the state hosting the western terminus of each route. Both names date back to the era when freight railroads offered their own passenger trains.

The Texas Eagle was a flagship train of the Missouri Pacific, operating between St. Louis and various points in Texas. It had sections for Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and El Paso.

The Official Guide of the Railways of June 1962 showed that the El Paso section carried numbers 21/22, which are the same numbers that the Amtrak rendition of the Eagle uses today.

Aside from numbers, the MoPac Eagle and the Amtrak Eagle have some other similarities. Both carried through sleepers between St. Louis and Los Angeles, although in Amtrak’s case those cars originate in Chicago.

Amtrak’s Texas Eagle more or less follows the original route of its MoPac predecessor between St. Louis and San Antonio, with a few deviations in Texas.

The westbound Texas Eagle is shown above on March 15, 2005, in Fort Worth, where it connects with Amtrak’s Oklahoma City-Fort Worth Heartland Flyer.