MoDOT Seeks New Amtrak Service from KC to Springfield, St. Joe, STL

The Missouri River Runner serving Union Station would add a third daily round-trip to St. Louis in a proposal by the Missouri Department of Transportation. (Photo courtesy Union Station)

By Kevin Collison

Expanding passenger rail service from Union Station by adding a third daily round-trip to St. Louis, and new connections to St. Joseph and the Springfield area is being explored by state transportation officials.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is seeking $38 million from the state to apply for the additional Amtrak routes through the federal Corridor Identification and Development Program.

A new route between Quincy, IL and Hannibal also is contemplated.

The application would include $76 million in federal funding, according to information presented by MoDOT to the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission at an August meeting in Chillicothe.

David Johnson, chairman of the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance, said his organization is enthusiastic about potential new rail service.

“We are excited to have more inter-city train options coming to Union Station,” he said.

“It’s been a long goal of regional Amtrak advocates to expand the number of destinations available to Kansas City.”

The entrance to the Amtrak station at Union Station.

A spokesperson for MoDOT responded to an inquiry about the potential new Amtrak service with a letter sent by highway officials last October to the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington D.C.

It justified the request for a third round-trip of what’s called the Missouri River Runner between Kansas and St. Louis as providing increased connectivity to the state’s two largest metros. The route also serves eight other communities, including Hermann.

The proposed route to the southwest Missouri, including Branson and Joplin, would provide service to an area where the closest Amtrak station is more than 100 miles away, according to MoDOT. It also would connect Kansas City with the state’s third largest metro.

The potential St. Joseph route would provide passenger train service to a region of northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas that has 250,000 residents, MoDOT stated.

As for the proposed Quincy-Hannibal route, Missouri would partner with Illinois. Quincy already is served by an Amtrak route from Chicago.

“This would provide passenger rail service to a tourism dependent region of the state, and connections to Amtrak’s Midwest hub,” according to MoDOT.

The application to expand rail service comes when federal funding for Amtrak has increased under the Biden Administration. The recent federal infrastructure bill has $66 billion in new rail funding including $22 billion earmarked for Amtrak.

Amtrak currently serves Union Station with the Southwest Chief that runs from Los Angeles to Chicago, and the Missouri River Runner to St. Louis.

There also is an active plan to extend Amtrak service from Oklahoma City to Wichita and on to Newton, KS.

That would create the opportunity for passengers on the Southwest Chief, which serves Kansas City, to transfer in Newton to an expanded north-south Amtrak route that would extend to Oklahoma and on to major cities in Texas.

In its letter to the federal railroad officials, MoDOT also supported participating in a multi-state effort to expand Amtrak service from Kansas City to the north.

“Missouri would also express interest in partnering with the states of Minnesota and Iowa in a potential Minneapolis-Des Moines-Kansas City corridor, as identified in the FRA’s Midwest Regional Rail Plan Network,” the letter stated.

The potential of service between Kansas City, St. Joseph and Omaha was recently raised by City Manager Brian Platt in an interview with CityScene KC.

He said a possible rail connection from downtown to the airport could open up opportunities to eventually extend north to those cities as well.

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    • I feel like there’s a lot missing from this article. How many people currently ride the two round trips to STL? How much would ridership increase? Of the over $100M cost, how much is for this service? What are the remaining funds going to be spent? For instance, on trains themselves? New track, or side spurs so Amtrak passengers can wait on freight trains to eventually pass by? Were any regular taxpayers interviewed, or just the cheerleader who earns his pay from this type of project?

      • I’m approving this snarky comment, but if you read the article you’d understand this is the beginning of an application process that could determine the information you bring up.

        • It’s not particularly meant to be snarky, just constructive feedback. I clearly DID read the article and wanted to know more. Somehow someone somewhere came up with a cost for this project. That person must have some sort of educated guess on what certain portions would cost.


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