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MoDOT exploring expansion of passenger rail from Kansas City to St. Joe, Springfield, St. Louis

Passenger Rail Proposal
Posted at 2:17 PM, Sep 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-20 10:03:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Transportation has submitted an application that it hopes would allocate funding to expand Amtrak passenger rail service in the state.

A total of four applications have been made to the Federal Railroad Administration under the Corridor ID Program, which aims to further study intercity passenger rail options.

The four applications made by MoDOT would expand the frequency of the Missouri River Runner service between Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Louis, as well as explore the possibility of a new service between Kansas City and St. Joseph, Kansas City to the Springfield/Branson area and between Quincy, Illinois, and Hannibal, Missouri.

The state hopes the FRA will sign off on a $500,000 grant by the end of this year. If approved, the grant would go toward the hiring of a consultancy to complete a preliminary study of the future routes.

A MoDOT spokesperson said all four of the applications stem from conversations with communities across the state and each application is already identified as an unfunded need.

If the study moves forward, MoDOT has preliminarily included funding in its Fiscal Year 2025 budget as a placeholder.

Last October, MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna wrote a letter to federal railroad officials to express the state’s interest in the four route improvements/expansions.

LINK | Read MoDOT’s letter

McKenna wrote that Missouri would also work with the Minnesota and Iowa departments of transportation to explore a Minneapolis-Des Moines-Kansas City corridor as outlined in the FRA’s Midwest Regional Rail Plan Network.

In August, the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, of which officials from Missouri and Kansas are part, offered comments to the FRA as part of the Congressionally-mandated Long-Distance Service Study.

Those comments called on using the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to study the restoration of previously discontinued long-distance routes and possible new routes.

The MIPRC called for restoring two long-distance routes that connected Kansas City to other parts of the country:

  • The National Limited, which ran from Kansas City to Washington D.C/New York via St. Louis, Effingham, Illinois, Indianapolis, Dayton, Ohio, and Columbus, Ohio.
  • The Lone Star, which ran from Houston to Chicago with stops in Wichita and Kansas City.

Those two routes, along with the North Coast Hiawatha and the Floridian, were discontinued in 1979.
Earlier this year, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority submitted an application to the FRA’s Corridor ID program seeking more information about a 15-county intercity rail system around Kansas City.