Section 22214 - Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study
Passenger Rail Oklahoma is a grass roots advocacy organization dedicated to the preservation and expansion of passenger rail services in the Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kansas region. Contact Evan Stair at EvanStair@PassengerRailOK.org to join our effort or for more information.
Passenger Rail Oklahoma and Passenger Rail Kansas Respond to Long-Distance Request
March 19, 2023
Passenger Rail Oklahoma and Passenger Rail Kansas submitted comments to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Daily Long-Distance Service Study on March 17. The brief response considered four legacy routes through the region:
- Lone Star (Chicago-Houston) reinstatement
- San Francisco Chief (Chicago-Richmond, California) reinstatement
- (Chicago) St. Louis-Lawton reinstatement
- (Chicago) Kansas City-Dallas reinstatement
Our response was uncharacteristically brief as this is the first opportunity we had to comment,said Evan Stair, President Passenger Rail Oklahoma and Passenger Rail Kansas. He continued,
The main point here was to show interest in the study, aligning in part with the spirit of work already performed and to suggest other populated routes of importance to the region.
Chicago-Houston Lone Star Subject of Study and Funding
December 23, 2022
The Chicago-Houston Lone Star made its last run in October 1979. The train made stops in Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth and other smaller intermediate cities and towns. When considering historical Lone Star patronage and fiscal performance, era rail advocates understood the discontinuance as politically inspired. It was nothing more than window dressing -- sold to the public as a way to shore up the federal budget and tackle government debt in an era of hyper-inflation.
Today, a growing number of Congressmen understand the need for growth to benefit rural commercial interests. They recognize, and are prepared to correct the mistakes of the past through means within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). IIJA, signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021 provides historical funding levels to rebuild a national passenger rail network.
More specifically, IIJA includes Section 22214-Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study. This study requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to study a set of discontinued and less-than-daily passenger rail routes under these criteria:
- Long-Distance routes discontinued on May 1, 1971
- Long-Distance routes discontinued after May 1, 1971
- Tri-weekly Cardinal route (Chicago-New York)
- Tri-weekly Sunset Limited route (New Orleans-Los Angeles)
- Tri-weekly Texas Eagle route (San Antonio-Los Angeles segment)
As defined in 49 U.S.C. 24102 The Lone Star today is a candidate long-distance route of 1,368 miles.
Controversy surrounds how best to rebuild the network. Amtrak executives seek to focus upon short-distance, multi-frequency corridors. Rail experts see the inherent efficiencies associated with long distance routes. We agree with the experts. Amtrak Connects US has less to do with building a solid network and more to do with tapping new non-federal funding sources.
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contact Evan Stair at EvanStair@PassengerRailOK.org
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