To the editor:
The Journal-World editorial, “On track” (March 15) notes the irony of past actions by Congress and the freight lines that resulted in a compromised passenger rail system that is scrambling to get up to speed today. A couple of clarifications:
- While some abandoned short-line routes have been made into trails, the BNSF tracks for the preferred route connecting Kansas City to Fort Worth are well poised to carry passenger trains.
- Amtrak did not cancel passenger service on this route. The U.S. Department of Transportation did. Congress directed DOT to re-examine Amtrak’s route system and submit a report with a recommended route system that Amtrak would be required to implement. DOT recommended a number of Amtrak routes be discontinued in 1979. Congress did not disapprove that recommendation although it did act to save several routes.
- The plans for expansion of passenger rail services in Kansas are of particular interest to Lawrence because of the connection such service would provide to Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. Of greater appeal, however, is that one option of the Amtrak study provides Lawrencians the means to travel to Kansas City and Topeka via a daytime train. For every dollar of the project’s investment by the state, taxable income would increase by $4.60. Finally, while startup costs of the expansion seems daunting, federal funds are available if KDOT acts now.
The time is now for the state of Kansas to capture federal dollars, generate wealth and put people back to work with rail expansion projects.