Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Passing Lane for Trains

The eastbound Amtrak Missouri River Runner train whizzed by California City Hall just minutes before a dedication ceremony kicked off to officially open a new railroad side track located just west of California, Mo. The $8.1 million, 9,000-foot track enables two trains to pass.

The project was completed on time and under budget. It has helped unclog a major “bottleneck” caused by a 25-mile stretch of single track between Kansas City and Jefferson City. The new passing lane for trains allows a slower moving freight train to move off the main line so faster Amtrak trains can pass.

The side rail is estimated to reduce passenger train delays by nearly 17 percent per year. In fact, two out of the first three weeks it has been open, Amtrak trains have achieved a 100 percent on-time rate – the first time ever. Plus, ridership on the corridor is up 30 percent from 2007.

Union Pacific, Amtrak, MoDOT and the state of Missouri worked in partnership on this project to help increase capacity on the St. Louis to Kansas City corridor. Funding came from a $5 million allocation specifically for rail development from the Missouri General Assembly and a $3.1 million grant through the Federal Railroad Administration.