March 22, 2020 - TRA Newswire -

Rail travel from Fort Worth northward through Oklahoma to Kansas took a step forward with the entire Kansas State Senate passing a resolution in support of passenger train service to extend the daily Heartland Flyer into their state.

The one daily round trip between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, operated by Amtrak on behalf of the Oklahoma and Texas Department of Transportation, could be extended north to Newton, Kansas where it would connect to Amtrak's national passenger rail network. The daily Southwest Chief serves the route that runs from Los Angeles to Chicago, serving dozens of towns and cities.
The resolution, SR1767, which was supported by every member of the Kansas Senate indicated that "numerous studies conducted by universities in Texas and Kansas have determined the economic benefit of Amtrak's Heartland Flyer passenger rail service and its extension to be at least three to one for every dollar spent". The Governor of the State of Kansas has proposed to dedicate funds in the state's budget for preliminary work for the development of additional passenger rail services.
The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) had introduced the new FORWARD Kansas transportation plan, which included the development of the Heartland Flyer extension from Oklahoma City to Newton, Kansas. Ridership on the Heartland Flyer extension from Oklahoma City to Newton, Kansas, is anticipated to double if connected with the Southwest Chief.
Amtrak had approached the state of Kansas to enter into a multi-operational partnership for an extended Heartland Flyer that would bridge the Southwest Chief line to the Texas Eagle service at Fort Worth Central Station.
The resolution urges the Kansas congressional delegation to support the inclusion of federal funding for the full implementation and development of the Heartland Flyer extension in the upcoming reauthorization of the FAST Act (Fixing America's Surface Transportation).  Amtrak had presented to the 2020 Committee on Ways and Means of the Kansas Senate a plan to request 100% federal funding for rail development ofHeartland Flyer extension, through reauthorization.

In 2010 the state of Kansas passed legislation authorizing a state passenger rail program and KDOT had been the recipient of several federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants that have improved the Southwest Chief tracks. The Southwest Chief serves several communities in the state of Kansas and laid the groundwork for the planning and development of expanded passenger rail services.

The Northern Flyer Alliance, Inc. an advocate for the reintroduction of passenger rail service from Kansas City through Wichita to Fort Worth, has been instrumental in pushing both Kansas and Oklahoma lawmakers forward on passenger train issues. NFA is a coalition of 49 cities, six counties, and 19 Chambers of Commerce along the I-35 corridor that have joined together to promote passenger rail service in their communities.
Senate Resolution No. 1767 was sponsored by Senators McGinn, Alley, Baumgardner, Berger, Billinger, Bollier, Bowers, Braun, Denning, Doll, Estes, Faust-Goudeau, Francisco, Givens, Goddard, Haley, Hardy, Hawk, Hensley, Hilderbrand, Holland, Kerschen, Longbine, Lynn, Masterson, Miller, Olson, Petersen, Pettey, Pyle, Rucker, Skubal, Suellentrop, Sykes, Taylor, Thompson, Wagle, Ware and Wilborn.