KDOT provides latest information on Amtrak Heartland Flyer expansion

The findings from the public input and virtual town hall on expanding Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer in Kansas have been released by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The Heartland Flyer passenger rail service is set to undergo an exciting expansion project. The proposed plan aims to extend the service from Oklahoma City all the way through Wichita and up to Newton. This extension will allow passengers to conveniently connect with the Southwest Chief, a route that spans from Los Angeles to Chicago, with several stops in Kansas.

The proposed expansion by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) recently underwent a public comment period, during which a virtual public meeting was held in November 2023. KDOT has now disclosed the outcomes of the feedback received regarding the proposed expansion.

The department received more than 400 comments regarding the proposal, with the majority of them expressing positive sentiments. While some individuals provided negative feedback about the virtual format of the town hall instead of an in-person meeting, they still expressed support for the expansion of Amtrak.

Advocates also expressed their desire for an extension of passenger rail service beyond Newton, aiming to connect additional towns and cities such as Manhattan, Lawrence, and Kansas City. This expansion would create a seamless transportation network, further enhancing connectivity and accessibility for residents and visitors alike.

Participants in the meeting expressed their desire for enhanced amenities, modernized train stations, improved handicap accessibility, and better connections to bus routes and airports. To read a summary of the public meeting, you can click here.

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To access the presentation from November’s virtual meeting, simply click here. For more information, including a facts sheet and frequently asked questions about the Heartland Flyer expansion, please click here.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has announced that they will be holding a second public meeting in the spring to discuss the Service Development Plan. The plan, which is expected to be completed later this year, aims to facilitate the expansion of services. If everything goes according to plan, the expansion will be finished and the new services will be up and running by 2029.

During Tuesday’s Wichita City Council workshop meeting, city leaders were informed that KDOT has been awarded a planning grant of $500,000 for the project. Additionally, KDOT has submitted applications for other federal grants.

When the council visits Washington, they will have several meetings scheduled, including one with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Jim Davenport, Wichita’s lobbyist in Washington, expresses his confidence that they can discuss the available grants with the FRA to support the completion of the project.

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