California, Missouri is where a joint project between The Missouri Department of Transportation, Union Pacific and Amtrack begins to improve passenger rail service.
Brian Weiler, multimodal operations director for MoDOT says this is the first of several projects to add sidings — a passing lane of sorts — to the track.
Federal stimulus funding and state money is going toward the $8.1 million project.
MoDOT reports the Kansas City to St. Louis rail corridor has experienced such a steady growth in freight rail traffic over the years, that the corridor has experienced capacity constraints.
In some parts of Missouri, Amtrak trains have to pull over to accomodate Union Pacific cargo traffic.
California, Missouri is one of the state’s worst bottlenecks, putting passenger trains behind schedule. Other identified bottlenecks are in Knob Noster and Strasburg.
MoDOT says once the California project is complete, allowing Amtrak trains to pass, the annual reduction in delays will be nearly 17 percent.
"As the State of Missouri, Union Pacific and Amtrak break ground together on this project, it further represents our commitment to making the St. Louis to Kansas City rail corridor a more viable option for Missourians," says Pete Rahn, director of MoDOT. "Improvements like this will ease congestion on the railroad tracks across Missouri and enhance our state’s quality of life by making passenger rail a more reliable option and increasing our global competitiveness as the flow of freight rail traffic improves."
"The Kansas City to St. Louis rail corridor has experienced such a steady growth in freight rail traffic over the years, that the corridor experienced capacity constraints. Union Pacific has invested more than $400 million since 1999 on this corridor in track capacity and maintenance projects," says Shane Keller, Union Pacific Railroad’s assistant vice president – operations – Northern Region. "All of us at Union Pacific look forward to not only the completion of this project, but also what we hope will be more public/private partnerships like this one which benefits everyone across Missouri."
Mike Franke, Amtrak Assistant Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development, agrees, saying, "This kind of targeted capacity improvement can make a real difference in improving the on-time performance of Amtrak Missouri River Runner trains and make our service even more attractive," said When finished in December 2009, the siding will accommodate the mile-and-a-half long Union Pacific coal trains that haul low-sulfur coal from Wyoming to electric utilities in the St. Louis area and eastern power generation facilities. MoDOT secured the funding for this project from state funds, complemented with a federal grant from the Federal Railroad Administration."
Jessica Machetta interviews Brian Weiler [Download/listen MP3]
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