Lawmakers, officials discuss future of passenger rail in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Nearly a hundred people came to the Kansas Capitol to meet with lawmakers and stress that Kansas needs to invest in passenger rail.

Sedgwick Senator Carolyn Mcginn hosted the meeting. People attending included Kansas legislators, out-of-state officials with a vested interest in rail, an Amtrak official, and a Kansas Department of Transportation official.

McGinn said this is the third meeting she has hosted on updating where the state sits, and it keeps getting bigger.

She said expanding train service would benefit the economy and Kansans.

“People nowadays want to be working on their computers, they want to be doing their business while they’re traveling so this gives them an opportunity to do that,” McGinn said.

A proposal to get passenger rail to Wichita was discussed. Currently, the closest stop is 20 miles away in Newton.

Officials want to connect two big cities in Wichita and Oklahoma City. That’s an idea that has cities that would be along the route getting excited.

“When people get off the train, they have a couple hundred dollars in their pocket, they spend that money in those communities,” said Evan Stair, president of the group, Passenger Rail Kansas.

Officials said the route would benefit both states.

“It would make a huge difference, and of course it would mean passenger rail actually stopping, instead of just freight,” said Abigail Ropp, owner of a train depot in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

When KDOT releases its next ten-year transportation plan, supporters are hoping passenger rail gets a greater focus than in years past.

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