TransitKC

KDOT, Amtrak release passenger rail study

The Kansas Department of Transportation and Amtrak released a feasibility study today outlining costs and ridership potential for a new state-sponsored passenger rail route between Kansas City and Fort Worth.

Four alternatives were studied, daytime and nighttime, each with varying price tags and connections to existing Amtrak services. The clear winner is Alternative 3 — a daytime train that provides a direct, 12-hour trip between Fort Worth and Kansas City — but the Kansas Legislature must decide which option to advance for state and federal funding. Alternative 3 has the highest ridership (174,000) and highest capital cost ($479 million).

Any option terminating in KC would use Amtrak’s existing facility at Union Station. Station stops include Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia, Wichita, and Oklahoma City.

The chosen option will need to win political and financial support from Oklahoma and Texas, which will also benefit from the additional service.

Annual operating costs for all four options range from $3.2 to $8 million. Missouri currently pays Amtrak $8 million to operate two round-trips between KC and St. Louis. Oklahoma and Texas share the $2 million cost of one daily round-trip between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.

This week also marked the first official legislative approval for the effort: SB 409, authorizing KDOT to enter into passenger rail agreements, was approved by both chambers and is on it’s way to Gov. Mark Parkinson for signature.

The Lawrence Journal-World has the best recap of today’s press conference. History of this effort can be found at northflyer.org/.

UPDATE: We also have comments about the study from Northern Flyer Alliance President Deborah Fischer-Stout about the study.

6 comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Max March 12th, 2010 2:52 pm

    I’m very encouraged by this turn of events. I hope this brings Kansas a step forward towards embracing more mass transit and maybe this can be a catalyst towards commuter rail in JoCo/WyCo or even a regional light rail system.

    Or at the very least, an improved JO.

    Dave, do you know how they come up with those ridership estimates?

  2. Dave March 12th, 2010 3:13 pm

    From the study:

    “…projected ridership and ticket revenue results [are] based upon an assessment of several other key service parameters including (1) population
    size and demographics of the geographic area to be served; (2) the proposed level of daily service, i.e., the number of daily train frequencies; (3) the length of
    scheduled trip duration; and (4) competing modes of alternative transportation.”

    The study itself was performed by AECOM, an independent company specializing in transportation planning.

  3. Max March 12th, 2010 3:55 pm

    Many thanks!

  4. Teresa Cunningham April 4th, 2010 1:01 am

    Oklahoma just tore up their rails at Union Station, the general public here has no idea what the people in “charge” have in store for our state.

  5. ryanwc April 25th, 2010 7:40 pm

    I’m curious – is anyone talking about extending the River Runner, either instead of the Heartland Flyer, or to meet an extended Heartland Flyer in Newton or in Topeka? It seems like this would make better use of crews and equipment (my sense is that 6 hours or so is the best distance for a run based on the hours crews can work.)

  6. Garl B. Latham June 3rd, 2010 3:46 pm

    I recently posted a column on Progressive Railroading’s blog site entitled “KDOT versus reality.” Anyone who’s interested is cordially invited to read the piece:

    http://myprogressiverailroading.com/blogs/gblatham/archive/2010/03/28/kdot-versus-reality.aspx

    Thanks!
    Garl B. Latham
    Dallas, Texas