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MoDOT wants more state funding for St. Louis-Kansas City passenger rail service

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Department of Transportation wants lawmakers to increase funding for passenger rail service between St. Louis and Kansas City, which would include $10 million for expanding rail capacity between the two cities.

MoDOT and Amtrak on Monday gave lawmakers and reporters a free ride to St. Louis, in part to show them two stretches of rail west and east of Jefferson City they say need expanding to accommodate both freight and passenger trains.

Brian Weiler is Multi-Modal Director for MoDOT.

"When you have a 6,000-foot freight train, and you've got a 3500-foot siding, and you're on a single-track system, who is going to be put in the siding? It's going to have to be Amtrak," Weiler said.

But Bill Stouffer (R, Napton), Chair of the State Senate Transportation Committee, says it won't be easy to convince lawmakers to spend an extra $10 million on improvements, when $7-9 million in subsidies haven't put an end to delays on the St. Louis-Kansas City passenger route.

"We're already subsidizing each ticket at a very high rate, and you have declining rider-ship...so it really makes no sense in my mind to continue doing what we're doing," Stouffer said.

MoDOT officials are also asking for $500,000 to install real-time passenger information displays at every unmanned train stop between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Meanwhile, Governor Matt Blunt has only asked for $600,000 to maintain twice-daily passenger rail service across the state for the next fiscal year.

That's down from the $800,000 allocation requested by Blunt last year.

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