December 9, 2020 - TRA Newswire -
A tri-state DOT request for passenger rail service from Fort Worth, through Oklahoma City to Kansas now winds its way through the Washington D.C. bureaucracy. The transportation departments of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas submitted a joint Corridor Designation Request to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on September 27, well ahead of the deadline this month.
The extension of the Heartland Flyer, which currently runs from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City and is an Amtrak partnered effort of the Texas and Oklahoma Department of Transportation has the support of the Oklahoma and Kansas legislature to extend the service to Newton, Kansas to meet the east-west national passenger rail service.
According to a news release from the Northern Flyer Alliance, Inc. (NFA) , this spring the FRA will determine what routes receive Corridor Designation and announce them to Congress in May 2023. The NFA reports that after the spring announcement is made, the FRA will begin working with representatives from each selected Corridor to accomplish next steps in the development process.
The route extension submission received extensive support from:
These can all be found here: Resolutions (northernflyeralliance.com)
In conjunction with new programs to establish more trains to more place for more people, the FRA issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for which the Heartland Flyer extension is eligible.
State DOT's will have until March 7, 2023 to apply for the Federal-State Partnership (FSP) for Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
According to the NOFO, discretionary grant awards, funded through the FSP Program, will support projects that improve safety, economic strength and global competitiveness, equity, climate and sustainability, and transformation, consistent with the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) strategic goals.
The extension of the Heartland Flyer, now running for 24 continuous years with one single round-trip from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City, continues to face an uphill battle with funding from the Texas DOT and the legislature.
Advocates have been trying for years to get a second round-trip going on the Texas-Oklahoma DOT partnered service to increase ridership and revenue, but the state of Texas has been hesitant to step forward. It's hoped that the extension to Kansas will open up minds to the possibility of a morning train to Oklahoma for Texas citizens to allow for a same-day round trip. At present, other than the evening Heartland Flyer and one 5:00am Greyhound bus, there are no other direct public ground services between the two cities. The Amtrak Heartland Flyer is the fastest connection between the major cities.