The Department of Transportation is holding a series of meetings around the state to discuss the future of Missouri’s rail system.

MODOT is in the process of developing a statewide rail plan. Railroad Operations Manager Kristine Jamison says it will weigh things like improving passenger and freight rail traffic, connectivity to other modes of transportation and the importance of investing in rail projects compared to other infrastructure needs, given limited funding.

Anyone who is effected by rail service is urged to provide input. That includes community and business leaders as well as members of the public.

Jamison says ridership has increased about 15 percent over the last fiscal year, much of that on the Missouri River Runner service.

Funding, however, is limited. She says MODOT hopes a new plan can help identify programs and projects to improve the state’s rail system, as well as prioritize projects so that when new funding is available it can be invested with the greatest benefit.

Input collected from the public will be analyzed and added to other information, including that gathered from railroad companies themselves. It will go into a draft plan that will be developed by next spring. More public sessions will then be held to look at the draft.

This round of meetings continues through next week. Find a schedule here.

An online public meeting is also underway until November 18th here, where those unable to attend one of the seven sessions around the state can ask questions and provide comments on passenger and freight rail.