Currently, Amtrak trains must take the siding track because freight trains cannot fit. The improvements will allow freight trains to go "into the hole" and let the passenger trains pass through, as intended.
Rich Eichhorst, a Missouri rail advocate, says as many as 60 freight trains a day, most carrying coal, use the line. Because of the freight volume, delays to Amtrak trains are common and can be lengthy. The route has one of the worst on-time performance records in the Amtrak system, with more than one-third of all runs arriving more than 30 minutes late.
"I have sat in some places for two hours while they have run as many as four trains by me," Eichhorst said. "There have been times when Union Pacific has told Amtrak not to run their trains on certain days because they were so busy."The two sidings to be lengthened are near California, MO, and Knob Noster, MO. In a related move, Amtrak is conducting a contest to rename its St. Louis - Kansas City trains. The five finalists are: Missouri Rail Blazer, Missouri River Runner, River City Corridor, ShowMeMo and Truman Service.