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Missouri Amtrak service returning to 2 round-trip trains daily

  

All aboard! Amtrak is getting back on track with two round-trip trains per day in Missouri beginning in mid-July after the coronavirus pandemic partially derailed service. 

The Missouri River Runner service between Kansas City and St. Louis went from two round-trips to just one round-trip train per day in March 2020 due to COVID-19. The twice-daily round-trip trains are set to resume July 19 and remain through the end of the year — a boost for state tourism. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) said it would re-evaluate the service in the fall. 

“We appreciate the General Assembly and Gov. Parson providing necessary resources for the Amtrak Missouri River Runner service in the state’s budget as well as the additional COVID relief funds enabling us to restore this important transportation service to Missourians,” MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said. “The two daily round-trip trains will be available through December covering the busiest time of the year including summer vacations, fall festivals, and year-end holiday travel.” 

The Missouri River Runner service brings in more than $200 million in annual economic impact for the state, according to a MoDOT news release. It also supports more than 1,250 jobs. 

“I’m thankful to see the Missouri River Runner returning to two daily trains again,” Rep. Becky Ruth, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, told The Missouri Times. “I applaud the legislature and Gov. Parson for the investment in this transportation service that delivers over $200 million annually in economic activity to our state while providing an important means of travel for many Missouri citizens and visitors.” 

Lawmakers initially sought to keep the once-daily service during budget negotiations earlier this year, but ultimately removed the limitation, citing available federal COVID-19 relief funds. The budget included $10.85 million for the rail program and $25,000 specifically for Amtrak station repairs and improvements. 

“My top priority while serving on the MoDOT budget conference committee was to remove language that would have restricted Amtrak to just one train a day,” Sen. Greg Razer said. “I’m glad my compromise amendment was accepted, and I’m very pleased to see Amtrak return to two trains by mid-July. This is important for Missourians and our economy.”

“We also extend our thanks to Gov. Parson and the legislature for their actions and for the steadfast, statewide support from the Missouri Rail Passenger Advisory Committee,” Ray Lang, Amtrak’s vice president for state-sponsored services. “Our valued relationship with MoDOT goes back to 1979, and we look forward to improving the already reliable service by the debut of the new U.S.-made Amtrak Midwest railcars on this route later this year.” 

The Missouri River Runner service makes stops in Hermann, Independence, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Kirkwood, Lee’s Summit, Sedalia, St. Louis, Warrensburg, and Washington. 

MoDOT is also asking Missourians for input on passenger rail service and will host a virtual open house through June 16.