Posts Tagged ‘Missouri’

Missouri River Runners Facing Service Cut

March 16, 2020

A budget plan making its way through the Missouri legislature is expected to reduce Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner service.

The plan would appropriate $12 million for Amtrak service in the next fiscal year.

But once the state pays off its debt to Amtrak for past service provided there would only be enough funding left to pay for one daily roundtrip between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Missouri has fallen being paying its bills to Amtrak for the River Runners since 2010 and now owes an estimated $6.5 million.

Amtrak is allowed to charge 12 percent interest on the outstanding debt but has yet to threaten to discontinue service.

The next fiscal year in Missouri begins on July 1.

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna said in January that the state cannot end Amtrak service because it still owes the federal government $36 million for station improvements on the 283-mile route.

The River Runners carried 167,000 passengers in 2018 but saw ridership fall last year due to cancelations prompted by flooding.

Branson Scenic Buys 3 Amtrak Cars

August 2, 2019

A Missouri tourist railroad has acquired three retired Amtrak cars.

The Branson Scenic Railway purchased Amtrak baggage cars 1204 and 1245, and dining car 8521.

All three cars are expected to be moved later this month from Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis.

Both baggage cars are of Santa Fe heritage and were built by Budd in 1953. The dining car was built by Budd in 1949 and used by the Southern Railway on is Crescent between Washington and New Orleans.

The diner was also assigned by the Southern to the Royal Palm, Southerner, and Tennessean,

Amtrak acquired it in 1979 when the Southern ceased operating its last passenger train, the Southern Crescent.

The diner was rebuilt by Amtrak to HEP capability in 1984 when it received its current roster number. It was overhauled in 2012 and retired from Amtrak revenue service in 2015.

Branson Scenic plans to rename the diner Silver Belle and used it as a backup diner for Branson’s dinner train and as a premium car for its Polar Express excursions.

The baggage will be used for parts and storage but one may become a power car.

The Branson Scenic uses tracks owned by Genesee & Wyoming’s Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad through the Ozark Mountains.

Trains operate on 40-mile round trips north or south of Branson.

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).

PTC Payment Dispute Threatening to Disrupt Amtrak’s St. Louis, Kansas City Service

February 4, 2015

A dispute over who should pay for installation of positive train control on two terminal railroads is threatening the future operation of Amtrak in St. Louis and Kansas City.

If the dispute is not resolved by the end of the year, Amtrak may cease serving Missouri’s two largest cities or else other arrangements will need to be made for serving them.

Amtrak and the state of Missouri want PTC installed on the Kansas City Terminal Railway and the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis As small terminal railroads, neither is required by federal law to install PTC, but Amtrak and the Missouri Department of Transportation say that it should be

Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said that Amtrak is working with MoDOT on an “equitable solution.”

“We are hopeful a resolution can be reached to maintain current Amtrak services to Kansas City,” he said.

Amtrak already has received invoices from the two railroads for the installation expenses. But neither Amtrak nor Missouri is willing to pay them.

The Missouri Department of Transportation “will not blindly pay for implementation costs” of Positive Train Control, its director, David Nichols, wrote to Amtrak in December.

Amtrak and the MoDOT say the railroads should bear the burden of installing the system because of their freight operations.

They noted that 250 freight trains a day operate over Kansas City Terminal’s track in addition to six passenger trains. Kansas City is the nation’s second busiest rail hub behind Chicago, and St. Louis ranks third.

The estimated cost of installing PTC is $32 million in Kansas City and $700,000 in St. Louis. That doesn’t include future maintenance expenses.

In 2008, Congress approved legislation mandating the installation of PTC by Dec. 31, 2015, on all routes hosting passenger trains.

There is a move afoot in Congress to extend the deadline by as many as five years. PTC is designed to avoid train collisions, derailments and other mishaps, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

Amtrak operates two round-trips a day between the St. Louis and Kansas City that are funded by MoDOT. The Missouri River Runner service carried almost 200,000 passengers in 2013.

Also affected are the Chicago-Los Angles Southwest Chief in Kansas City, the Chicago-Antonio Texas Eagle in St. Louis and the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service corridor trains.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said the service suspension could be averted if Congress passes legislation she has co-sponsored to give railroads another five years to install PTC.

“It’s unacceptable that we would disrupt passenger service in Missouri over this issue,” said McCaskill during a hearing of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Everyone knows Congress will adjust this deadline.”

Extending the deadline, though, will not resolve the dispute of who will pay for PTC installation in St. Louis and Kansas City.

MoDOT asked the Federal Railroad Administration in December to treat the terminal railroads like the larger ones because of their heavy freight volumes and because such larger railroads as Union Pacific and BNSF have an ownership stake in them.

Michelle Teel, MoDOT’s multimodal operations director, told the Senate committee that Positive Train Control installation requirements “should not be triggered by a small amount of passenger rail traffic, but rather should be based on operation volume, population density, tonnage and commodities moved, especially hazardous materials.”

McCaskill said the Kansas City-St. Louis corridor may not be the busiest passenger rail operation in the country, but provides a vital alternative to highways and air travel.

“It’s not the Northeast Corridor,” she said, “but it’s essential in my state.”