Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma City’

Proposals Sought for OK Passenger Service

June 23, 2018

Watco Companies has issued a request for proposals to provide intercity rail passenger service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The request came from Watco subsidiary Stillwater Central Railroad and proposals are due by July 27.

The request for proposals seeks comprehensive proposals from providers of passenger rail services to operate passenger rail service to be known as the Eastern Flyer between Sapulpa and Del City on the Sooner Subdivision.

Oklahoma City currently is served by Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer while Tulsa has never had Amtrak service.

The last passenger trains to Tulsa were provided by the Santa Fe and discontinued with the coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

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.

OKC-South Texas Rail Found Feasible by Study

November 9, 2017

A study has determined that a passenger-rail route between Oklahoma City and South Texas would be feasible.

The Texas Department of Transportation announced the results of the study this week, saying that the finding will pave the way for continued analysis of the proposal, including an environmental study to determine the route and environmental impacts before construction could begin.

The study also looked at the prospect of 220 mph passenger-rail between Dallas and San Antonio, finding it also would be feasible.

TxDOT said that the study found feasible passenger-rail service between San Antonio, Laredo and Monterrey, Mexico; and also studied 125 mph service between San Antonio to the Rio Grande Valley and improved Amtrak service between Dallas and Oklahoma City.

“At this point a private developer could step forward to determine future possibilities,” TxDOT officials said in a statement.

The $7 million Texas-Oklahoma passenger-rail study was federally funded and broke the 850-mile corridor broken into three segments: Oklahoma City to Dallas-Fort Worth; Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio; and San Antonio to South Texas.

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.

Crowds Turn Out for Amtrak Inspection Train

June 13, 2017

Crowds turned out in the communities visited last week by an Amtrak inspection train that was examining a possible expansion route of the Heartland Flyer.

The train operated from Oklahoma City to Kansas City and made stops in Guthrie, Perry, and Ponca City in Oklahoma; and Arkansas City, Wichita, Newton, Emporia, and Topeka in Kansas.

The consist of the train included P40 locomotive No. 822; heritage sleeper Pacific Bend, No. 10020, originally a 10-6 sleeper built by Budd for Union Pacific in 1950; Viewliner sleeper New River, No. 62043; dome-lounge Ocean View, No. 10031, built for Great Northern by Budd in 1955; and inspection car American View, No. 10004, built by Budd as one of the Viewliner prototypes in 1994.

The route covered by the train hosted Amtrak’s Chicago-Houston Lone Star until early October 1979.

Amtrak is studying extending the Heartland Flyer to Newton or to Kansas City. At Newton, the Flyer would connect with the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Last year a Thruway bus service began between Newton and Oklahoma City.

 

Amtrak to Inspect OKC-Kansas City Route

June 5, 2017

An Amtrak inspection train will operate on June 9 from Oklahoma City to Kansas City, Missouri, as part of a study of expansion of the Heartland Flyer.

The Flyer, which is funded by the states of Oklahoma and Texas, might be extended to Newton, Kansas, to connect with the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief. Currently, the Heartland Flyer runs between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas.

The route to be examined is owned by BNSF and until early October 1979 hosted Amtrak’s Chicago-Houston Lone Star.

The inspection train is scheduled to depart from Oklahoma City at 7:45 a.m. and reach Kansas City at 5:30 p.m. It will pass through the Oklahoma cities of Guthrie, Perry, Ponca City and Ark City; and the Kansas cities of Wichita, Newton, Emporia and Topeka. The train will pause briefly in each of these cities.

Quik-Track Machine Removed From OKC Depot

November 8, 2016

Amtrak said an increase in passengers going online to make reservations has resulted in the removal of a Quik-Trak ticketing kiosk from its Oklahoma City Station.

Heartland FlyerIn a service advisory, Amtrak said that passengers can use other self-service options such as Amtrak.com or its mobile apps to make reservations and print their tickets before arriving at the station.

A smart phone or other mobile devices can also be used to present an eTicket to the conductor on the train.

Oklahoma City is served by the daily Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Texas, Heartland Flyer.

Hearing Examines Heartland Flyer Operation

October 31, 2016

Some Oklahoma officials are raising questions about why their state pays more to fund the Heartland Flyer than does Texas.

Heartland FlyerThose questions were explored during a meeting of the Oklahoma Senate Transportation Committee last week in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Senator Frank Simpson asked for a study, noting that at one time the two states split the costs of the Flyer 50-50.

But now, Simpson noted, the split is closer to 60-40 and Oklahoma cities have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure investments to their stations. Simpson believes that Texas may be receiving economic benefits for which it does not pay.

He also believes that the schedule of the Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Texas, train favors the Lone Star state.

“The daily schedule really favors Texas—it’s more convenient for riders traveling south than it is for those coming north,” Simpson said. “I’m also concerned that the contract only runs a year at a time. I think when we have cities in Oklahoma making major investments a longer term contract would be tremendously helpful.”

The Heartland Flyer is scheduled to connect in Fort Worth with the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Testimony introduced during the hearing indicated that the preliminary findings of a feasibility study to extend the Heartland Flyer to Newton, Kansas, to connect with the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief, indicates that ridership of the Flyer might more than double.

Simpson called for a longer-term contract with Texas and a schedule that is more advantageous for Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma City is investing close to $30 million. My small community of Ardmore is going to make an investment of almost $2 million. I want to make sure they have a sense of security in doing that. That would come with a long-term contract, five or 10 years out,” Simpson said. “The long-term agreement question was not answered, but that’s something I’ve got to pursue with ODOT and probably with Texas.”

The committee also heard that Amtrak may establish a stop for the Flyer in Thackerville, Oklahoma, which is near the Chickasaw Nation’s WinStar World Casino and Resort.

Oklahoma Passenger Service Poised to Launch

April 1, 2015

Private passenger service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., is expected to begin in May or early summer.

The train, a venture of Watco, which owns the tracks, and Iowa Pacific Holdings, which is providing the equipment and on-board service, has been named the Eastern Flyer.

Matt Abbey, project manager for the service, said that Watco continues to make track improvements and the Federal Railroad Administration must approve the service.

Shuttles from pickup points in Tulsa will take passengers to a station in Sapulpa, Okla., where passenger will then board the train for Midwest City, Okla. Shuttles will then take passengers to various points in Oklahoma City.

The train will also make a number of intermediate stops.

Fares will start at $20 and downtown-to-downtown service will take about three hours. Food and beverage service along with wireless Internet access will be provided aboard the train.

“It’s important to us that this is done well and thoroughly,” Abbey said.

Sometime soon there will be a website and mobile-phone platforms up and running for passengers to check on train times and purchase tickets.

Watco and Iowa Pacific offered demonstration pass trains on the Stillwater Central between Sapulpa and Midwest City in February 2014.

Oklahoma City Depot to Get $28.4M Renovation

February 6, 2015

The depot used by Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer in Oklahoma City will undergo a $28.4 million renovation project this year.

The former Santa Fe station provides office space and a passenger waiting area for Amtrak.

Architects’ designs should be complete by April and construction could begin this summer. The project is expected to take two years to complete.

Plans are to open the renovated station, with a tunnel leading from inside to a terrace above the Bricktown Canal.

The restoration will transform the depot into a transportation hub for bicycles, future streetcars and commuter trains.

The Art Deco style station opened in 1934 and closed in 1979 when Amtrak’s Chicago-Houston Lone Star was discontinued. It reopened 20 years later to serve the Flyer.