Almost every short-distance passenger train route in the nation is showing increased ridership, except for the trains that travel between our two biggest cities.
An AMTRAK official says passengers have told the rail line that if they wanted to ride buses, they would have bought a bus ticket.
But for more than a year, AMTRAK has had to use buses to move passengers on at least part of the route between St. Louis and Kansas City.
The reason: Heavy freight traffic…and single lines of tracks in many places.
AMTRAK spokesman Marc Magliari says the law creating AMTRAK gives passenger trains preference on freight lines. But he says Union Pacific is juggling a huge amount of volume, particularly heavy trains moving coal from Wyoming to Tennessee, that force shutdowns of track sections for repairs.
AMTRAK becomes the odd man out…sometimes truncating trips and forcing customers to switch to special buses…sometimes forcing AMTRAK to bus customers all the way. Legal action is an option. It was used last year. But Magliari hopes negotiations this year will resolve the problem.
UP hopes to double-line some segments in eastern Missouri. But that effort is slowed because legal proceedings are blocking the state from giving the railroad an old bridge at Boonville and letting UP use it in eastern Missouri.