Topeka The state transportation department on Wednesday put the brakes on plans to expand passenger rail service in Kansas until funding is identified.
The announcement was made by Dennis Slimmer, chief of planning for the Kansas Department of Transportation, during a meeting of the Senate Transportation Committee.
KDOT has been studying extending Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer that runs between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City.
One option would be extending the route from Oklahoma City to Newton, and another option would be between Oklahoma City and Kansas City, Mo., which would include a potential stop in Lawrence.
Officials said the Newton route would probably have 200,000 passengers per year and the extension to Kansas City would have 270,000. The proposal has gained many advocates in towns along the proposed routes.
According to a passenger rail service development plan released by KDOT, the cost of the infrastructure improvements for the Newton route would be $87.5 million and the Kansas City service to be $245.5 million. The annual operating subsidy to be shared by participating states for the Newton route is estimated at $4.4 million and the Kansas City route is $10 million, KDOT said.
Slimmer said that before KDOT commits to any further review or embarks on engineering work it would want the Legislature to identify funding for the project and service.
Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan, who said he frequently travels on Amtrak, said he understood the concern about the expense but was disappointed.
“Rail has its place. The other countries of the world have found it to be worthwhile,” he said.