A change in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 in Amtrak's General and Legislative Annual Report & Fiscal Year 2022 Grant Request could lead to more train services in Missouri.

The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 says "an equitable arrangement of cost sharing between Amtrak and state or public agency partners that provide funding for short distance, intercity train services."  It's this requirement that makes the Missouri River Runner trains dependent on the State of Missouri for their continued operation.

I spoke to Amtrak's Media Relations Manager Marc Magliari about some changes in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) that Amtrak has proposed and whether or not that help increase Missouri River Runner service in Missouri.

Magliari explained the the way PRIIA is set up now, states have to pledge a significant amount of money "before the first wheel turns" when it comes to new service. That requirement, in many cases makes some states leery of funding new service.

Amtrak is proposing the railroad pay for most of the costs of new short inter-city corridor services for up to five years through their "National Network grant to initiate, operate, improve, and expand high-potential corridor service." The railroad  could "cover up to 100% of the initial capital and most of the operating costs over a five-year period, after which the new service or frequency would continue under an updated cost sharing methodology set to be developed by the State-Amtrak Intercity Passenger Rail Committee (SAIPRC)."

It's certainly a way to eliminate some of the funding issues, at least at the start of service, that state legislatures and governors worry about. Magliari says this change won't help River Runner Service because it's established and already running. But should Congress enact this change, it could lead to more rail service in Missouri.

Magliari said Amtrak's service to Quincy, Illinois could be extended to Hannibal or even St. Louis. And Kansas City could see service to Omaha and or Fayetteville and Tulsa.

I support passenger rail and Amtrak. Allowing Amtrak to initiate new services and bring state legislatures, governors and the public on board without saddling them with a significant pledge of money before the first train leaves the station. Sounds like a great way to create new Amtrak fans.

I'll be the first one to buy a ticket to Omaha too, there's a steak house just over the boarder in Iowa called The Pink Poodle. I was there once as a child, before I liked steak. I want to go back and try the prime rib. And I'd rather ride the rails than drive to get it.

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