Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis-Kansas City Corridor’

Kirkwood Taking Lead on Station Renovation

May 8, 2017

Kirkwood, Missouri, officials say the city plans to take an active role in infrastructure improvements planned for the Amtrak station.

The work include a storm water drainage project and renovation of the former Missouri Pacific depot, which dates from 1893.

The city has asked the Kirkwood Train Station Foundation to delay its fundraising activities on behalf of the station until planning is finished.

The group is comprised of volunteers who work at the station, which is the third busiest Amtrak stop in Missouri.

Aside from serving four Missouri River Runner trains a day between St. Louis and Kansas City, the station is rented about 250 times a year for private parties and events. The city acquired the station in 2003.

Kirkwood Chief Administrative Officer Russell Hawes said the storm water project is expected to cost $2 million while station rehabilitation will cost an estimated $3.5 million.

The renovation will include tuckpointing; converting the current baggage room to bathrooms; adding a platform on the east side of the building; replacing flooring, roofing, paneling and lighting; and soundproofing the ceiling.

Amtrak plans to fund installation of a new handicapped-accessible station platform and some new exterior and interior electronic arrival and departure signs, as well as other customer amenities.

Hawes said the design work will take about six months and construction is expected to begin in the next year or so.

The station will remain open during the renovation work.

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Missouri River Runners May Resume on Saturday

May 6, 2017

Amtrak expects to resume service on Saturday between St. Louis and Kansas City after Union Pacific reopened its route between the two cities.

UP also said it has restored service on the line used by the Texas Eagle between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

“As water levels recede in several areas, we have made significant progress restoring service to flood-impacted rail lines on our network,” UP said in a service advisory. “Service has been restored between St. Louis and Jefferson City, Missouri; and between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

Flooding from heavy rains washed out tracks and also caused mudslides during the past week.

The Missouri River Runners between St. Louis and Kansas City were replaced by buses during the service disruption.

Missouri River Runner Ridership up in 2017

April 26, 2017

Ridership aboard Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner trains increased 1 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

“For January through March, we were up nearly 1 percent from this time last year,” said Kristi Jamison, Missouri Department of Transportation railroad operations manager. “In January, we were up 10 percent, but that went down in February and March.”

Boardings in Jefferson City fell by 0.5 percent during the period.

“I still believe we’re being affected by low gas prices, and we’re still seeing fewer riders coming into St. Louis because of work on a high-speed rail service to Chicago,” Jamison said. “The infrastructure on that should be done by the end of this year, so we’ll see how we rebound from there.”

Jamison said 30 percent of River Runner passengers make connections with other Amtrak trains in St. Louis or Kansas City.

“So when you have delays like what we’ve seen in construction of the high-speed rail service in Illinois, that drops the ridership level,” she said.

The on-time performance of the Missouri River Runners was 90 percent for the first quarter, with some delays caused by freight traffic congestion.

“We also benefited from a mild winter, which decreases delays caused by cold weather and its effects on the tracks,” Jamison said.

MoDOT does not expect any changes in the service level regardless of how much funding the Missouri legislature allots for the service.

In 2017, the service was initially allotted $9.6 million, but Gov. Eric Greitens withheld $500,000 from that amount, making the intercity rail passenger budget $9.1 million.

MoDOT requested $14.1 million for the Missouri River Runners for fiscal year 2018, but Greitens has recommended approving $9.1 million. The House approved that amount but the Senate has not yet acted on the budget.

“We’re not anticipating any changes to our service due to the level of state funding we’re getting,” Jamison said.

In the meantime, Amtrak and MoDOT have announced two fare promotions that will run through the end of August.

They include mid-week fare sales with a 25 percent discount when traveling Tuesday through Thursday and a Kids Ride Free sale for weekend travel Friday through Sunday for children ages 2-12 when accompanied by a full-fare paid adult.

Reservations are required at least one day in advance of travel. The Missouri River Runners operate twice a day between St. Louis and Kansas City with intermediate stops at Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee’s Summit and Independence.

MoDOT Says Missouri River Runner Service Will Continue Despite Taking a $500,000 Budget Cut

January 18, 2017

The Missouri Department of Transportation has said Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner service between St. Louis and Kansas City will continue to operate at its current level despite a budget cut.

Amtrak Missouri River RunnerMissouri Gov. Eric Greitens in a budget submitted this week announced a $500,000 cut in MoDOT’s budget for rail service as part of a larger $146 million budget reduction.

Missouri funds two roundtrips a day between the Show Me State’s largest cities.

MoDOT is paying Amtrak $9.6 annually to operate the service, which serves 10 stations.

Michelle Teel, director of multimodal programs at the Missouri Department of Transportation said that passengers should see no change in the schedule for the foreseeable future.

The governor’s office said in a news release that most of the budget cuts were aimed at rolling back earmarks, new spending items, programs with no established track record of success, and services that are duplicated elsewhere in government.

The $500,000 cut will be rolled into what MoDOT will owe Amtrak in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Teel said MoDOT will negotiate with Amtrak on how to close the funding gap. One option might be to increase fares.

Missouri River Runner ridership in the past fiscal year, which last June 30 was down 7.3  percent from the previous year. Amtrak said ridership was 172,032.

Agreement Reached to Resolve PTC impasse in Kansas City that Threatened Amtrak Service

July 7, 2015

Amtrak said it has reached an “an agreement in principle” regarding installation of positive train control on the Kansas City Terminal Railway.

If implemented, it will end the threat that Amtrak would discontinue its Missouri River Runner service as well as the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Those trains use a portion of the KCTR, which is Class III carrier jointly owned by Union Pacific and BNSF.

“We are hopeful we will soon finalize details of an equitable solution that achieves the installation and ongoing maintenance of PTC in the Kansas City Terminal area,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Amtrak had earlier estimated that it would cost $32 million to install PTC on the KCTR.

Although railroads such as KCTR and the Terminal Railway Association of St. Louis handle hazardous materials on run-through trains from their Class I connections, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 doesn’t require the Class III roads to install PTC unless they host passenger trains.

KCTR refused to pay to install PTC and the Missouri Department of Transportation also declined to pick up the bill. Amtrak said it doesn’t have the money to pay for it either.

There has been a move in Congress to delay the deadline to implement PTC, but that movement stalled after the derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia resulted in multiple fatalities. The deadline to install PTC is Dec. 31, 2015.

Eric Curtit, the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Administrator of Railroads and Multimodal Operations, said terms of the KCTR agreement are confidential.

He said that the KCTR agreement is likely to establish a framework to resolve the same issue regarding TRRA tracks in St. Louis used by the Missouri River Runner trains, the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

New Bridge Eases River Runner Route Congestion

November 23, 2013

A notorious bottleneck that has delayed Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner trains will be mitigated with the opening of a new bridge.

The Union Pacific built the bridge at Osage City, Mo., over the Osage River and opened it this past week.

The bridge on the former Missouri Pacific mainline between St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., had reduced two tracks to one. With the opening of the bridge the route will be all double track the entire length of the River Runner route

The $25 million project involved building a bridge over the River and installing double track on each side of the bridge for 0.5 miles. The new bridge is downstream of the existing crossing at milepost 116.89.
Missouri Department of Transportation officials think the project cost may end up being as much as $4 million under budget.

Funding for the project came from the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.

The bridge had been set to open in December, but was completed ahead of schedule.