Task force wants to restore Amtrak service in Emporia

July 21, 2014

A note from Jim Coston, Chairman of Corridor Capital:

On Friday, July 18th, I traveled to Topeka, Kansas at the invitation of KDOT Secretary Mike King to discuss passenger train options along the Kansas City–to–Oklahoma City route. The meeting was arranged by Pete Meitzner, Vice Mayor and Council Member for the City of Wichita, who also attended a fully-staffed meeting. I traveled from Chicago to Topeka with Todd DiBenedetto of PPL Group, one of our lenders, aboard PPL’s corporate jet. Secretary King had been aboard the special Amtrak train with CEO Joe Boardman and BNSF Chair Matt Rose the previous week. ppl-jet With all of the energy directed at options to upgrade the Southwest Chief route, the interest in developing regular service from Tulsa to Oklahoma City and the growing interest in both connecting with the Chief at Newton and creating new service connecting Wichita and Emporia, the timing is excellent. Multiple scenarios were reviewed. Secretary King’s next step will be to meet with Oklahoma DOT.

Corridor Capital is an active member of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, where, at a recent meeting attended by both Vice Mayor Meitzner and myself, we began a discussion of the passenger rail needs of Kansas and surrounding states. These helpful commission gatherings often lead to the possibilities of major advances in passenger rail in various locations.

From the Topeka Capital Journal, 19 July 2014:

[It is both] nostalgia as well as the potential for economic development that is fueling [Rev. Andrew] McHenry’s — and others’ — desire to bring Amtrak service back to Emporia and build a new train depot to serve as a passenger stop.

The old train station was destroyed in a blaze in 1999 after Amtrak had discontinued service to the city.

McHenry… is part of the Emporia Amtrak Task Force, which recently filed for nonprofit status with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office and is looking for funding for an impact study for the new depot.

Other members of the task force are Lyon County Undersheriff John Koelsch, Emporia resident Phil Dillon and Casey Woods, executive director of Emporia Main Street…

Task force members have been talking with Amtrak and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad staff, Emporia State University officials and community leaders about restoring Amtrak service and the benefits it would bring to the community. BSNF owns the tracks on which Amtrak’s Southwest Chief runs…

However, Amtrak may be facing more urgent challenges in the future.Amtrak officials recently said passenger service to western Kansas could be lost unless funding is found to rehabilitate the track.

At issue is a pending request for a $15 million federal grant that would be matched with $4 million from Amtrak, $2 million from BNSF and $3 million from Kansas to finance maintenance work on the line. That $24 million package would initiate an upgrade campaign, but more work would be required in the future…

Rest of the story in the Topeka Capital Journal



Previous post:

Next post: