Jeff Smith wrote: ↑Sat Feb 11, 2023 6:21 am
Extension News: https://www.ctnewsonline.com/news/artic ... 383f2.html
A big incentive to extend and improve passenger rail service is the availability of billions of dollars in federal funding to be distributed nationwide during the next five years, it was reported at a legislative caucus in Topeka last week.
That’s good news to Cowley County passenger rail proponents, who have organized to advocate the return of Amtrak for well over 20 years. Cowley County lost Amtrak service in 1979, when the Chicago-Houston Lone Star line was discontinued.
The Heartland Flyer was established in 1999 and continues to run between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas. Extending the line north to Newton from Oklahoma City would provide train riders from several northern Oklahoma towns, Ark City and Wichita access to the national passenger rail system. From Newton, train riders could catch the Southwest Chief Amtrak train that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles.
I would love to see the Hearland Flyer extended to Newton, but I am realistic. news articles like this one do not even give all the facts, like how many $billions will be left over for the Heartland Flyer once all the bridges and tunnels are built for Amtrak's Nrtheast Corridor? Shucks, the new article does not even mention how many $billions were allocated much less how many $billions will be left after the NEC gets all it needs.
Additionally, the news article does not even look at when the trains will arrive in northern Oklahoma. The existing Heartland Flyer departs OKC at 8:25 am and returns the same day at 9:25 pm. Easily accomplished by two train crews working an 8 hour day. Anything further north would have to depart earlier and arrive much later if using just one train set. I am not even sure the two train crews could be extended to work that long to reach Newton. Otherwise it would require two train sets with at least two more train crews. Costs every year of maintenance and operations and therefore losses will more than double the existing train, costs that Texas already is uncomfortable with.
The FRA, not Amtrak specifically, is more than willing to help pay for most, if not all, the capital costs of extending the train services, but neither the FRA or Amtrak is willing to pay the losses to run this train, it expects the States to foot that bill. The existing $5 to $6 milllion per year adds up very quickly, doubling those subsidies will add up twice as fast.