Track where Amtrak train derailed was scheduled for repairs

March 15, 2016

WASHINGTON – Amtrak’s Chicago-bound Southwest Chief derailed early Monday on a stretch of track in western Kansas that had deteriorated so badly that the railroad was close to reducing train speeds in some spots from 60 mph to 30 mph.Website Insert Perfect Answer copy

A combined $27.6 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, along with some state and local money, was supposed to be used to fix the track, some of which dates to the 1940s and ’50s, but the funding wasn’t enough to rebuild the entire 300-mile route between Hutchinson and La Junta, Colo.

The portion of the route where the derailment took place, between Dodge City and Garden City, was awaiting repairs to the track.

“It was definitely the older rail,” said Steve Cottrell, assistant to the city manager of Garden City, which applied for and received a federal grant to begin making the repairs in 2014.

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BNSF to invest $100 million in Kansas

By Morgan Chilson, the Topeka Capital-Journal, March 14, 2016

BNSF Railway Co. will spend $100 million in 2016 in Kansas as part of its capital expenditure program.

The dollars will be spent primarily on maintenance project, with the largest components being replacing and upgrading rail, rail ties and ballast, the company said in a release.

“A safe and reliable network is critical to connecting products with key consumer markets whether they are in Kansas, across the nation or around the world,” said Matthew Garland, BNSF general manager of operations, Kansas Division.

The Kansas maintenance program includes about 1,480 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work, replacement of more than 60 miles of rail and about 210,000 ties, and signal upgrades to comply with federally mandated positive train control. In addition, the company’s Logistics Park Kansas City will see enhancements to enable direct rail/carload service from the facility.

BNSF has allocated $4.3 billion for its 2016 capital expenditure program this year. About $300 million of that will be spent to continue to implement PTC.

In other BNSF news, former Topekan Carl R. Ice, president and CEO of BNSF Railway, will be honored Tuesday as 2016 Railroader of the Year by industry trade journal “Railway Age.”

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