An Amtrak train stopped in Wichita today on its way from Oklahoma City to Kansas City.
Dozens of people were on the platform at Union Station welcoming the Amtrak train. It was on an inspection trip—which city leaders say is the next step in a 16-year-long process to bring passenger service back to Wichita.
“Wichita is one of only three communities in the top 50 communities in the U.S. that does not have Amtrak service to us anymore," Mayor Jeff Longwell said.
The Lone Star route that stopped here was halted in 1979. Amtrak is working with BNSF to extend the Heartland Flyer route—which runs from Fort Worth, Texas, to Oklahoma City--up to Newton, where it could connect with the Southwest Chief.
Joe McHugh with Amtrak says the next steps will be a cost assessment, then work with Kansas lawmakers to generate the necessary funds.
“I think this year is an important year for fully pulling together what it’s going to take," he said, "and really go at it next year."
McHugh says he isn't concerned about possible federal cuts to Amtrak and other transportation services.
"Right now we have very good support in Congress, very good support from [Senator Moran]. I think at the moment here we're in pretty good shape on the national level," he says.
He says Wichita could have passenger rail service within the next two or three years.
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