Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis-Kansas City Corridor’

Flooding Took Toll on River Runners Ridership

July 5, 2019

The flooding that led to Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner trains being canceled in spring and early summer contributed to lower ridership as a result.

Excluding June, ridership in fiscal year 2019 has been 147,209 passengers compared with 156,867 for the same period in 2018.

Revenue for March through May 2019 was $1.168 million, compared with $1.441 million in 2018.

Bryan Ross, the railroad operations manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said ridership numbers are not where the agency wants them to be.

“In April, just after we got back into service after another stretch of days where we couldn’t run due to flooding, we had 13,022 people ride the trains, which was slightly up from April 2018 when there were 12,947 riders,” Ross said. “We’re feeling confident that with dryer months coming, ridership will come back.”

Ross said a contract with Amtrak for fiscal year 2020 shows slightly lower expenses due to lower maintenance costs on passenger cars and locomotives.

The Missouri legislature has approved $9.1 million for passenger trains funding although MoDOT had sought $16.6 million.

Ross said his agency agreed to allow buses to replace the trains after flooding increased freight traffic on the Union Pacific route between St. Louis and Kansas City.

MoDOT and Amtrak officials feared the River Runners would incur delays of four to six hours, which he said is not a safe condition for passengers to be waiting on a train.

“That’s when we go to bus service,” he said.

In the meantime, Ross said Amtrak continues to refurbish the cars used in Midwest corridor service by giving them new paint, upholstery and carpeting.

That work is expected to be completed by mid-February 2020.

“Amtrak has 80 passenger cars in their Midwest fleet, and Missouri pools with other Midwest states to use those cars,” Ross said. “As those cars get refreshed, they cycle into our system.”

Amtrak typically assigns six cars to each Missouri River Runner train.

New passenger cars for Midwest service are being built and may go into revenue service by summer 2020.

Suspension of Missouri Trains Extended to June 12

June 7, 2019

Amtrak on Thursday extended the suspension of its Missouri River Runner trains by another two days through June 12.

Affected are trains 311, 313, 314 and 316 between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Displaced passengers are being transported by chartered buses to all stations served by the trains.

The suspension began  on May 22 when host railroad Union Pacific increased freight traffic on the line due to flooding elsewhere on its system in the Midwest and South.

In the meantime, UP said Thursday that is has reopened its route between Chicago and Texas that is used in part by Amtrak’s Texas Eagle.

The Eagle has been suspended for the past week between St. Louis and Fort Worth, Texas.

Missouri River Runners Still Suspended

June 3, 2019

Although Amtrak has removed a notice from its website regarding suspension of its Missouri River Runners, the carrier has cancelled those trains for today.

For more than a week the River Runners, which operate between St. Louis and Kansas City, have been replaced by charter buses.

Host railroad Union Pacific has been diverting freight traffic to the route used by Nos. 311, 313, 314 and 316 due to flooding elsewhere on its system.

A check of the Amtrak website under “train status” found that all four trains are shown as being canceled.

The Texas Eagle between St. Louis and Fort Worth, Texas, has also been cancelled this week for similar reasons. Nos. 21 and 22 are still operating between Chicago and St. Louis, and between Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas.

 

Missouri River Runners Remain Suspended

May 28, 2019

Passengers booked aboard Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner trains between St. Louis and Kansas City will continue to ride chartered buses through at least Wednesday (May 29).

Amtrak said in a service advisory that host railroad Union Pacific continues to divert freight trains to the route used by the River Runners.

Nos. 311, 313, 314 and 316 had been suspended last week after flooding occurred near Kansas City.

Originally, the suspension of the River Runners was to last through Saturday, but was extended.

Amtrak said the substitute buses will operate as close as possible to the train schedules and will pick up and drop off passengers at all stations served by the train.

Flooding Disrupts Amtrak Service in Missouri

May 25, 2019

Flooding has again disrupted Amtrak operations in Missouri.

The Missouri River Runner trains between St. Louis and Kansas City, and the Southwest Chief between Kansas City and Hutchinson, Kansas, were suspended as a result.

A service advisory posted on the Amtrak website on Friday said that Missouri River Runner passengers would be placed on chartered buses through today (May 25) because host railroad Union Pacific has diverted freight train traffic on the route used by Amtrak Nos. 311, 313, 314 and 316.

Amtrak said the buses will stop at all stations as close to the train schedules as possible, but delays are to be expected.

The suspensions are in effect through Thursday, May 23.

The Missouri River Runner service has been suspended because of increased freight traffic caused by diversion of Union Pacific traffic. The Southwest Chief suspension reflects a temporary track closure on the train’s BNSF Railway route. Chartered buses will substitute for rail service on both routes during the suspension.

The Southwest Chief has been restored to its normal operation in eastern Kansas and the Kansas City region.

Today’s No. 4 arrived in Kansas City 35 minutes late while No. 3 arrived in KC 2 hours, 15 minutes late. The lateness of No. 3 has ballooned to more than three hours by the time it reached Topeka, Kansas.

Missouri River Runner Ridership Down, Revenue Up

April 11, 2019

Ridership of Amtrak’s Missouri River Runners is down in fiscal year 2019 compared to this point in the past fiscal year but the fare box proceeds have been higher.

Missouri Department of Transportation officials said the St. Louis-Kansas City trains have carried 111,891 in FY2019, a drop of 1,400 from this point in FY2018.

Revenue between November 2018 and February 2019 was $3.798 million, up from $3.632 million in FY 2018.

“We were down five percent in the first quarter and only down one percent in the second quarter,” said Bryan Ross, MoDOT railroad operations manager. “We had a good winter. Each month, passenger numbers were up. We were down July through October due primarily to low gas prices and work on the tracks, which led to freight train congestion.”

The top four stations by percentage of ridership were Kansas City, St. Louis, Kirkwood and Jefferson City.

At the latter station, ridership between November and February was 25,491 compared to 25,197 during the same period in 2018.

Ross said equipment assigned to the trains is being refurbished, a process that is expected to be completed in early 2020. The work includes new paint, upholstery and carpeting.

“Amtrak has 80 passenger cars in their Midwest fleet, and Missouri pools with other Midwest states to use those cars,” Ross said. “As those cars get refreshed, they cycle into our system.”

Six cars are typically assigned to the River Runners. Ross said new passenger cars are expected to reach the trains by summer 2020.

“Once the cars are manufactured, they have to go through six months of testing before going into service,” he said.

The new cars are expected to offer smoother rides and have new seats and safety measures.

Each car will have lifts to allow people in wheelchairs easier access.

Ross said ridership numbers are not yet available for March when the River Runners were suspended for a while due to an increase in freight traffic on the host railroad Union Pacific.

UP rerouted some traffic to its St. Louis-Kansas City line after flooding of the Missouri River closed some routes in Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.

During the service suspension, Amtrak provided chartered buses to all River Runner stations.

“It will be interesting to see what those numbers show, but we usually have a very solid customer base,” Ross said.

Amtrak Missouri Reach New Contract

April 10, 2019

The Missouri Department of Transportation has signed a new contract with Amtrak for operation of the Missouri River Runners that has costs similar to those paid in the previous fiscal year.

The state appropriation for Amtrak in FY 2018 was $9.1 million, after a $500,000 restriction was imposed by former Gov. Eric Greitens.

MoDOT’s FY 2019 budget request for Amtrak operations is $15.1 million. The agency is seeking $16.6 million for Amtrak service in FY2020.

Missouri has funded St. Louis-Kansas City service since the New York-Kansas City National Limited between the two cities was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979.

Missouri funding of service between the two cities began on Oct. 28, 1879, when the Chicago-St. Louis Ann Rutledge was extended to Kansas City.

River Runners to be Restored on Monday

March 30, 2019

Amtrak will restore operation of the Missouri River Runners between St. Louis and Kansas City on Monday.

Nos. 311, 313, 314, 316 had been suspended for the past two weeks due to freight train congestion on their route.

Flooding in Missouri, Iowa and Nebraskas had led to surge in freight traffic using the former Missouri Pacific mainline between Missouri’s two largest cities.

Amtrak agreed to replace the trains with chartered bus service after UP said Union Pacific said it would be unable to handle the trains in a timely matter.

Flooding has washed out some routes in the Midwest but the no washouts have been reported on the St. Louis-Kansas City line, which follows the Missouri River in part.

Missouri Trains Suspended Through March 28

March 23, 2019

In a service advisory posted on Friday, Amtrak said Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will remained suspended through March 28.

Passengers traveling between the two cities and to intermediate stations are being transported in the interim by chartered buses.

Amtrak said the service suspension was due to Increased rail traffic caused by freight trains being diverted to the Union Pacific route between St. Louis and Kansas City.

“The additional freight train volume is due to historic flooding in the Central U.S. Chartered buses will cover the Amtrak route and stop at all stations as close to the train schedules as possible, but delays are to be expected,” Amtrak said in the advisory.

Amtrak normally operates two roundtrips a day between St. Louis and Kansas City.

MoDOT Revives Discounts to Boost Ridership

April 17, 2018

In an effort to boost ridership aboard the Missouri River Runners, the Missouri Department of Transportation is offering free rides for children on select days and 25 percent fare discounts for midweek travel.

The Kids Ride Free offer is available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 26 and applies to children ages 2 to 12 who are accompanied by an adult.

The midweek fare sale applies to travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and will run through Oct. 31.

Both fare programs are only available online. Passengers must make reservations at least one day in advance.

“One of these is geared toward children, so it’s important to us that we are having children take a chance on the train so that they can build a love for it, hopefully, and decide to be passengers as they grow into adulthood,” said MoDOT Railroad Operations Manager Kristi Jamison.

Jamison said MoDOT offered the same discounts last year and had saw good ridership during the spring and the summer.

“It was very well used, so we were glad to be able to offer that again on the Missouri River Runner,” she said.

Jamison said ridership to and from Jefferson City has been flat. The twice-daily River Runner trains posted ridership of 172,000 in fiscal year 2016 but that fell to 171,000 in FY 2017. In the current fiscal year ridership is up by 2.5 percent and has held steady.

She said track work in 2017 probably depressed ridership because trains often operated late.

The state appropriation for the service in FY 2018 was $9.1 million, but, Gov. Eric Greitens withheld $500,000.

MoDOT is seeking $15.1 million in FY 2019. Jamison said MoDOT has seen cuts in funding from time to time.