Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stars Align for Amtrak Missouri Service

Missouri rail passengers have much to celebrate these days. The two daily Amtrak round trips connecting the state's largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City, have a new name, Missouri River Runner. And, the River Runner is running well, of late, posting an enviable 96 percent on-time rate for January.

For years, Amtrak's Missouri trains were plagued to extensive delays caused ridership to plummet. But, improvements in dispatching by host railroad Union Pacific as well as capital investments to increase capacity have all but eliminated these woes, and the riders have returned.

"MoDOT officials attributed the recent turnaround to better train dispatching by Union Pacific and track repairs that allowed the trains to move faster.

Since 1999, Union Pacific has spent about $400 million to upgrade tracks in the corridor to reduce “slow orders,” which require trains to reduce speed over tracks that need work.

MoDOT also pointed to Union Pacific’s $26 million project to fix a bottleneck by adding a second track across the Gasconade River. The second track opened in October.

Ridership between Kansas City and St. Louis increased 26 percent from July through December, compared with the same period in 2007."

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