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Passenger Rail Service Could Return To Springfield

Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission members heard today about the possible return of passenger rail service to Springfield. Mike Smith has the story:

MODOT News Release

June 14, 2006 ... For immediate release No. 39G

MoDOT Exploring Amtrak Rail Service

Between Springfield and St. Louis

SPRINGFIELD ...Amtrak passenger rail service between Springfield and St. Louis could bring a new transportation option to a growing portion of Missouri, lessen congestion on Interstate 44 and help save motorists from rising fuel costs, Missouri Department of Transportation officials said today.

The department, along with Amtrak, is exploring the possibility of one round trip daily between the two cities, with stops along the way in Lebanon, Rolla, Sullivan and Kirkwood. The train would run on existing privately owned rail lines.

"This part of the state hasn't seen passenger rail in 40 years," said MoDOT Multimodal Operations Director Brian Weiler. "The rail lines along this corridor are in good shape and aren't too congested, so riders can expect a smooth ride and on-time service. From St. Louis, rail connections are available to the rest of the country, so this would be a great opportunity for travelers in southwest Missouri to see the country by rail."

MoDOT currently supports Amtrak service between St. Louis and Kansas City. National Amtrak routes run between Kansas City and northeast Missouri, as well as between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff.

Conditions may be right for an expansion in service, Weiler said. "Population and travel is way up in the Springfield/Branson area, and Fort Leonard Wood is very busy as well. And with highways becoming more congested and fuel costs going up, more people than ever are looking for other ways to travel."

There are many details to be worked out, Weiler emphasized, including available funding, stations and crossings in the affected cities, and availability of Amtrak equipment. The possible expansion would be at least a year or two away.