CALIFORNIA, Mo. — Representatives of the State of Missouri, the City of California, Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak today kicked off the construction of a new $8.1 million, 9,000-foot railroad side track to add capacity and reduce delays on the route used by Amtrak Missouri River Runner trains between Kansas City and St. Louis.
The new siding, located just west of California, Mo., will unclog a major “bottleneck” caused by a 25-mile stretch of single track and enable slower freight trains to move off the main line allowing faster Amtrak trains to pass and annually reduce delays by 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,” said Pete Rahn, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation (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,” said 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.”
“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 Mike Franke, Amtrak Assistant Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development.
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.
This location was chosen after a University of Missouri study estimated a siding in this area would annually reduce delays to Amtrak trains by nearly 17 percent. It was ranked as the first choice among three “bottlenecks” on the rail line between Kansas City and Jefferson City. The other locations are in the Knob Noster and Strasburg areas.
The study helped Union Pacific’s engineering and network planning groups make solid choices where capacity projects should be considered across the 275-mile rail corridor. MoDOT commissioned the study in 2006 in order to determine where rail line capacity enhancements should be made to improve train velocity.