Amtrak Cuts Service Because Missouri Didn’t Put It In the Budget
While Amtrak ramps up the speed on Lincoln Service and the Texas Eagle between Chicago and St. Louis, the State of Missouri drops the ball on Missouri River Runner Service between St. Louis and Kansas City.
On nearly the same day many media outlets in Chicago and St. Louis were touting a speed increase on Amtrak's Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle, another service change was announced:
Federal law requires states to pay a portion of the cost of certain Amtrak trains. Missouri’s state budget does not include funding for continuing to operate two Missouri River Runner round-trip trains.
So on January 3, 2022, Amtrak will offer one train from Kansas City to St. Louis with stops in Warrensburg and Sedalia in the morning. And one train from St. Louis to Kansas City with stops in Sedalia and Warrensburg in the afternoon. Amtrak characterizes the service change as a suspension until further notice.
When Amtrak moved to restore much of its service after COVID-19 there was some concern whether the Missouri legislature would fund Missouri River Runner service. And the second train was restored with some pandemic-related funding through the end of 2021. For now, anyway, we have our answer.
And that's a shame because Amtrak service between St. Louis and Chicago continues to get better and better. Late last week Amtrak adjusted the schedule of Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle because trains on the Chicago to St. Louis corridor can now travel 90 miles per hour.
Right now that only shaves 15 minutes off travel time end to end by about 15 minutes, but Amtrak's service bulletin says they expect to operate the corridor at 110 miles per hour in the next 12 to 18 months. That will probably trim another 15 -20 minutes off the trip.
The improvements on the Lincoln Service are all Illinois initiatives. That's one reason they don't go beyond St. Louis. It's kind of a shame Missouri doesn't really care about passenger rail. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think towns like Sedalia and Warrensburg could benefit from better rail service.
Yet no one's going to get off of Interstate 70 or use the train to explore the great downtowns of any of the places along the line with one train a day.