Officials are looking to establish an Amtrak passenger rail service between Texas and Kansas.
About two dozen people gathered on the platform of Topeka's Amtrak station Friday to meet a special inspection train that was traveling from Fort Worth, Texas, to Kansas City, Missouri. The train was meant to give Amtrak officials and some state and local officials the opportunity to see what a new route following the Interstate 35 corridor could look like, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Amtrak official Joe McHugh said the inspection car had seen a "tremendous turnout" from communities north of Oklahoma City, which haven't seen passenger rail service since 1979 when Amtrak halted its Lone Star train.
Amtrak currently operates daily passenger rail service from Oklahoma City south to Fort Worth due to a joint operating agreement with Oklahoma and Texas Departments of Transportation.
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"Wichita is one of the largest cities in the U.S. that we don't serve right now," McHugh said.
The rail company's Southwest Chief route runs daily from Chicago to Los Angeles and is currently the only passenger rail line that crosses Kansas.
McHugh said Amtrak will work with BNSF Railway, which owns the tracks, to establish service. After the inspection trip, the next step toward passenger rail service would be planning out what that service will look like, how much it'll cost and what investments are necessary to build infrastructure. McHugh said that work will probably last through the summer and fall.
Mark Corriston, state representative of the National Association of Railroad Passengers Council, met the inspection train on the platform with a sign reading, "If Amtrak runs it, we will ride it."
"It's like `Field of Dreams,"' he said. "If you build it, they will come."