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Future of rail in Missouri could depend on Washington

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Whether you might take the train for holiday travel in the future might well depend on a $200-million request for federal funds. Missouri Transportation Director Pete Rahn says people are being drawn to rail travel for reasons other than saving money on fuel, local media report.

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

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.

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.

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.

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."

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