"And I think one of the issues is that as airports and security have made flying just more of a hassle, I think it makes rail traffic more desirable," Rahn says.
Amtrak, though, hasn't been any more desirable in Missouri. Its slow speeds and uncertain schedule with spotty on-time performance has turned off many Missourians who might well be inclined to take the train.
That is, until now. MoDOT has been touting the vastly improved on-time performance of Amtrak between Kansas City and St. Louis due to better cooperation among Union Pacific, Amtrak and MoDOT. Also improvements, such as a new 9,000-foot rail spur in mid-Missouri at California, have helped negotiate freight and passenger rail traffic.
Rahn says even greater improvements must be made to make Amtrak a truly desirable transportation option. Other bottlenecks remain between Kansas City and Jefferson City. A new rail bridge is needed over the Osage River east of Jefferson City to allow more rail traffic. Missouri has applied for slightly more than $201.3 million to completely upgrade the railway, preparing it for the possibility of high-speed rail. MoDOT proposes to use the money to fund 11 rail projects. Competition for the money is expected to be fierce."Our application to the Federal Railroad Administration for high-speed rail grants is in Washington. We're hoping to hear by the middle of January," says Rahn. "And we have a request for funding those improvements. So, I'm hopeful."