Flooding Disrupts Amtrak Service Between KC and St. Louis
Flooding and Union Pacific freight congestion has disrupted Amtrak's Missouri River Runner service between Kansas City and St. Louis, with stops in Sedalia and Warrensburg, since Tuesday May 21. Amtrak announced that the service suspension will remain in effect through Sunday June 2.
Freight congestion caused by the flooding has also caused Amtrak to suspend service on Amtrak's Texas Eagle between St. Louis and Ft. Worth. The Texas Eagle stops in St. Louis, Arcadia and Popular Bluff in Missouri. This train is cancelled through Friday June 7. Although the train is running between Chicago - St. Louis and San Antonio and Ft. Worth in Texas.
Amtrak is providing charted busses for River Runner passengers as alternate transportation and stopping at all stations as close to the schedule as possible. Travelers are asked to arrive early and expect travel delays. There is no alternate transportation available for Texas Eagle passangers. For the latest information passengers can call 1-800-USA-RAIL or go to the Amtrak website.
Finding yourself on a bus to St. Louis instead of an Amtrak coach isn't a fun situation. That happened on one of my train journeys long ago, and it wasn't a fun experience. Although if you don't have another way to get somewhere it beats not having any alternative provided, or trying to navigate alternative transportation on your own.
It also bothers me that freight trains are being given preferental treatment over passenger service. It's not surprising since outside of most of the East Coast and part of Michigan, Amtrak uses tracks owned by the freight railroads. Who were bailed out of having to provide passenger service by the federal government in 1971when passenger trains became unprofitable and not needed to promote their freight services.
Making sure freight moves is important. It's important to our economy and interstate commerce. It also happens to be important to the bottom line of freight railroads. Amtrak can't do anything about flooding, that inconveniece is going to happen. However, a lot of Amtrak's performance issues come from freight railroads who are more than willing to take Amtrak's money so the passenger trains can run on their track but have little interest in helping Amtrak run on time and efficently. Amtrak cancelling service because of "freight congesteion" is just a glaring example of that.
If you use Amtrak's River Runner service. If you like having train service as an option. Speak up. Tell your elected officials at all levels of government. Express your concerns about delays and cancellations. Talk about what you'd like to see Amtrak aspire to be.
While Amtrak shouldn't be political, the quasi government agency is political. If enough people speak up I think passenger service in Missouri and all across the United States could be dramatically improved. If you don't speak up, expect the status quo or less.