Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis-Kansas City Corridor’

St. Louis-Kansas City Roundtrip Return Pushed Back to Mid-December

December 5, 2022

The return of the second Missouri River Runner roundtrip between St. Louis and Kansas City has been pushed back to Dec. 16.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said an equipment shortage prompted the move.

He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that passenger cars have “been sort of rotating around the Midwest.”

Magliari also said Amtrak has encountered labor shortages that have prompted service suspensions on Midwest routes linking Chicago with St. Louis; Detroit (Pontiac); Quincy, Illinois; and Carbondale, Illinois.

The second St. Louis-Kansas City roundtrip has been suspended since Oct. 24. It was to return on Nov. 16, then Dec. 4.

One central issue causing the service suspensions has been mechanical problems with new Venture passenger cars that Amtrak expected to have in service by now on Midwest corridor routes.

The Post-Dispatch story quoted an Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman as saying the Venture car have ongoing problems with water filtration systems and onboard electronic displays.

Missouri Service Suspensions Extended Into December

November 17, 2022

Equipment shortages continue to plague Amtrak’s Midwest Corridor services.

The passenger carrier said this week that suspension of one of the Missouri River Rail Runner round trips between St. Louis and Kansas City will last through Dec. 4, ensuring the service will not be restored in time for the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

Trains 311 and 316 were suspended on Oct. 24 and were to have been restored on Nov. 16.

No. 311 departs St. Louis in the morning and then turns back in Kansas City in late afternoon.

The ongoing suspensions mean that the only service between Missouri’s two largest cities is No. 318, which departs Kansas City in the morning and runs through St. Louis to Chicago.

It’s counterpart, No. 319 originates in Chicago and departs St. Louis for Kansas City in mid-afternoon.

An Amtrak spokesman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the continued suspension of Nos. 311 and 319 is due to delays in deploying new equipment, an apparent reference to the Venture equipment Amtrak has assigned to Midwest corridor service in fits and starts due to ongoing mechanical issues with the cars.

River Runner Suspension to Last Until Nov. 16

October 18, 2022

Suspension of one roundtrip of Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner has been extended to Nov. 16.

The route between St. Louis and Kansas City only regain double-daily service in July with the second roundtrip having been suspended due to lack of state funding.

Amtrak cited an equipment shortage for the suspension of Nos. 311 and 316 starting Oct. 24.

Those trains are scheduled to depart St. Louis westbound at 8:15 a.m. and depart Kansas City eastbound at 1:55 p.m.

Still operating are Nos. 318 and 319, which operate between Chicago and Kansas City via St. Louis and the Lincoln Service route.

The suspensions of the River Runner service comes on the same day that currently suspended trains on the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) and Chicago-St. Louis routes are set to resume.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?

October 8, 2022

When it comes to Midwest corridor trains, Amtrak appears to be robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The passenger carrier said this week that Missouri River Runner Trains 311 and 316 between St. Louis and Kansas City will be suspended between Oct. 24 and Nov. 16 due to an equipment shortage.

On the same date those trains are being suspended, Amtrak plans to restore service on two Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) and Chicago-St. Louis trains that had been suspended since late summer for equipment shortages.

Amtrak has said it lacks enough mechanical workers to keep enough equipment in service to cover all of its trains.

The service advisory about suspension of the Missouri River Runner trains said no alternative transportation will be provided for those who had tickets to ride Nos. 311 and 316 during the affected time period.

Amtrak will operate Missouri River Runner Nos. 318 and 319 as scheduled during the time period when Nos. 311 and 316 are suspended.

2nd Missouri River Runner to Begin July 18

July 8, 2022

A second Missouri River Runner train will be restored on July 18 between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Amtrak said Train 311 will leave St. Louis at 8:15 a.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Kansas City at 2:20 p.m.

Train 316 will depart Kansas City at 4 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in St. Louis at 9:40 p.m.

The existing service, Nos. 318 and 319, is currently scheduled to depart Kansas City in the morning and St. Louis in the afternoon.

Lack of sufficient state funding prompted Amtrak on Jan. 3 this year to reduce St. Louis-Kansas City service to one round trip per day.

For fiscal year 2022 the Missouri Department of Transportation was allocated $10.85 million for Amtrak service. That level of funding for fiscal year 2023 was increased to $13.25 million.

Missouri lawmakers are requiring MoDOT to fund daily rail passenger service “without incurring any further arrears or otherwise commit itself or the state to any form of debt payments to operate the service.”

Missouri, Amtrak Used Pandemic Funds to Eliminate Debt for St. Louis-Kansas City Service

January 21, 2022

For more than a decade, the Missouri Department of Transportation had been in arrears on it payments to Amtrak for operating Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

By 2020, Missouri’s debt to Amtrak had reached $6.5 million.

Now that debt has been wiped out courtesy of federal COVID-19 relief funding that Amtrak used to “pay off” the debt, the News-Tribune of Jefferson City, Missouri, reported this week.

But funding of the service remains a challenge for MoDOT and it appears that double daily service on the route will no longer be a year-around fixture for at least the short term.

The case of Missouri River Runner funding is a cautionary tale of what could happen in other states if Amtrak and those states move ahead on creating new corridor service routes as envisioned in the Amtrak Connects US plan released last year.

Missouri fell behind on paying Amtrak in 2010 because the state legislature would habitually fail to appropriate enough money to pay for the service.

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna told the News-Tribune that his agency would request funding each session but it wasn’t appropriated.

“What would happen is on July first each year, we’d get the core appropriation and that core appropriation started paying the overdue bill more than the advancement of the service for the following year,” McKenna said. “And it got to the point where that grew almost as much as the cost of the service itself and that was, obviously, a problem.”

McKenna said the cost of providing Amtrak service would increase annually due to rising costs of labor and fuel, but legislators didn’t want to increase funding for Amtrak.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic intensified in March 2020, Amtrak operated double daily service with trains leaving St. Louis and Kansas City in the morning and afternoon.

That fell to a single roundtrip during the depths of the pandemic before service reverted to double daily in July 2021.

However, the Kansas City afternoon and St. Louis morning departures were suspended in early January because the state doesn’t have enough money set aside for Amtrak to pay for that level of service through the end of the fiscal 2022 budget year. MoDOT is seeking $10.8 million in state funding for Amtrak for fiscal year 2023.

That would enable MoDOT to pay for one roundtrip for half of the fiscal year and two roundtrips for the other half.

McKenna said it was likely that two roundtrips would operate between July and December.

The cost of operating two roundtrips all year would be an estimated $13.2 million, he said.

Having a split year operating pattern comes with risks. McKenna said Amtrak might turn down reinstating a second pair of trains when Missouri wants them, saying it lacks the crews to staff the service.

In the meantime, Missouri lawmakers approved budget bill language prohibiting MoDOT from paying operations debt to Amtrak with general revenue appropriations.

McKenna said MoDOT then began comparing the billed operating costs to ridership revenue and general revenue appropriations to determine how much service it could afford without going into debt to Amtrak again.

That was what led to the suspension of one Missouri River Runner roundtrip on Jan. 3.

MoDOT favors double daily service. McKenna said the agency understands the positive economic impact that has.

Discussions are underway with legislative committees regarding appropriations for Amtrak service for the next fiscal year.

McKenna said the Amtrak funding seems to be a high priority for some lawmakers, particularly those whose districts are on the train’s route. But Amtrak funding is nowhere on the radar of other legislators.
The News-Tribune story can be read at

Missouri Runner Service to be Halved Jan. 3

December 16, 2021

Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will be cut in half on Jan. 2, 2022, to reflect state funding of the service.

Set to be discontinued are the morning train from Kansas City to St. Louis and the afternoon return trip.

That will leave a morning departure from St. Louis to Kansas City and a return trip in the evening.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said the projected cost to operate one daily roundtrip is $9.1 million. Two daily roundtrips would cost $13.25 million.

Earlier this year the Missouri legislature approved $10.8 million for Amtrak service.

Some of that funding is being used to pay for the second roundtrip for half of the state’s current fiscal year.

A MoDOT spokeswoman said restoration of the second roundtrip will depend on how much funding the legislature approves for Amtrak service in subsequent fiscal years.

“Our funding has to go through the legislative process,” said Linda Wilson Horn.

Also left hanging is funding to restore the building that formerly hosted the Amtrak station in Jefferson City. No funding is available to finish that work.

Since 2019 Jefferson City passengers have been using a converted mobile office building after the historic station was closed due to structural instability.

The COVID-19 pandemic combined with service disruptions prompted by flooding of the Missouri River have hindered ridership in the past two years.

Last year 58,000 rode the Missouri River Runners but previous ridership had been in the 170,000 range.

Private Car Offering Trips on Amtrak Midwest Corridor Trains

June 4, 2021

A former Seaboard Air Line observation car will operate on Amtrak corridor trains in the Midwest in July, September and October.

The car is the Hollywood Beach, which was built in 1956. The trips being offered will feature guides from the Midwest Rail Rangers group.

The first trips will operated between St. Louis and Kansas City July 23-25 with ticket proceeds being used to help restore 1939 Seaboard observation car No. 6400.

The trip departs St. Louis at 4 p.m. on July 23, arriving in Kansas City at 9:40 p.m. After a free day in Kansas City, the return trip departs Kansas City for St. Louis at 8:15 a.m. on July 25.

Tickets are $500 per person. No one way tickets are available although some passengers may be able to board at an intermediate station.

For further information or to buy a ticket, contact John Owen at or at 502-416-8143.

A St. Louis to Chicago one way trip will operate on Sept. 23, departing St. Louis at 5:30 p.m. and arriving in Chicago at 11:10 p.m.

Midwest Rail Ranger guides will provide narration between St. Louis and Springfield, Illinois.

Tickets are $299 and may be obtained by contacting Ketih White at or 708 446-1269.

A Chicago to St. Louis one way trip will run Oct. 4, leaving Chicago at 9:25 a.m. and arriving in St. Louis at 3 p.m. Midwest Rail Rangers guides will provide narration for the entire route.

Tickets are $299 and available from Ketih White.

Fares include meals, hors d’oeuvres, snacks and drinks. No personal food or beverages are allowed aboard the car.

Missouri Legislative Committee Cuts Funding For Amtrak Service

April 1, 2021

A Missouri legislative committee has approved reducing the state’s funding of Amtrak service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

The action by the Missouri House of Representatives’ Budget Committee approved $9.85 million to support one daily roundtrip. Two daily roundtrips would cost at least $12.65 million.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring service on the route has been one daily roundtrip.

Even before the pandemic, some Missouri lawmakers had been pushing to cut funding to support just one roundtrip a day.

Missouri Department of Transportation officials have said the route carried more than 170,000 passengers a year before the pandemic.

Ridership began falling in 2019 after service was suspended due to flooding.

Financial problems have long shadowed the service, known as the Missouri River Runner.

In 2017, former Gov. Eric Greitens cut $500,000 in funding for the service and since 2010 the state has failed to pay Amtrak its share of the bill and owes an estimated $3 million.

There has been some discussion about not operating the trains on Mondays and Tuesdays so that service could be two roundtrips on weekends.

A MoDOT economic impact study released recently found the trains annually generate more than $208 million in economic activity statewide and create 1,250 jobs.

The study said passengers spend an estimated $12.8 million in hotels and an additional $25.3 million in food and sightseeing costs each year.

This economic activity contributes to an estimated $11 million in federal, state and local tax revenue, according to the study.

More than half (56 percent) of passengers answering a survey said they used Amtrak as a way to visit friends or family.

Thirteen percent of passengers said they were traveling for recreation or leisure travel, and 11 percent say they were using the trains for work or business-related travel.

Other reasons given included vacations (8 percent), personal or family events (6 percent), traveling to or from college or school (5 percent) and shopping, 1 percent.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said Amtrak plans to introduce new Venture coaches to the St. Louis-Kansas City corridor later this year.

He said that if service falls to one daily roundtrip it would six to 12 weeks to work out the logistics of increased service if the state were to decide to fund two daily roundtrips.

Missouri River Runner Gets Another Coach

June 12, 2020

In anticipation of increased ridership, Amtrak has added an additional coach to Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

The carrier said the expanded equipment consist will provide additional seating while maintaining social distancing.

Missouri River Runner trains will now have three coaches available although only half of the seats are being sold.

Amtrak operates one roundtrip daily between the two cities. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic service had been two daily roundtrips.

There also had been a fight in the Missouri legislature over whether to continue funding two roundtrips per day.