KANSAS (KSNT) – New improvements may be coming to Kansas’ passenger rail system, including expanded routes to and from cities in Oklahoma and Missouri.

The Kansas Department of Transportation released a copy of its State Rail Plan draft on June 22. The almost 200-page document gives details of freight rail networks, commodity flows, economic data and information about passenger rail services in Kansas.

One of the chief rail updates for passengers concerns the Heartland Flyer Extension, which has been in the works for some time. Expansion of this route could open up new stations in Wichita and Arkansas City, increasing the number of people served by the passenger rail.

The current update to the Heartland Flyer included in KDOT’s draft, which has been under discussion since 2021, would connect the Heartland Flyer to Southwest Chief. This connection would create a line running from Newton all the way to Fort Worth, Texas and bring the number of round trips from one to three.

The expansion of this rail network would create several new stations and serve over 10 million residents. It would also be expected to help reduce traffic congestion along Interstate 235 Highway and other areas along with connecting several universities across the Midwest.

The Midwest Regional Rail Planning Study, which advocates for passenger rail routes through its eight member states, has also been exploring the possibility of a regional passenger rail network and expansion of the Heartland Flyer Extension in Kansas. New routes being considered by the MIPRC would create a line connecting Wichita, Topeka and Kansas City.

Additionally, the KDOT draft included a section addressing the extension of the Missouri River Runner with Kansas locations. The expansion for this line could include connections from the terminus in Kansas City to Lawrence and Topeka. However, the timing of trips between these locations would need to be convenient for riders from Missouri due to the existing Kansas City to St. Louis line.

Public input is currently being welcomed by KDOT on these expansions and other improvements to rail lines in Kansas. To leave a comment on the rail plan, contact Steve Hale at steve.hale@ks.gov or call KDOT’s Division of Communications at 785-296-3585.

To read the Heartland Flyer Extension plan from 2021, see the document below:

Heartland Flyer Extension Fact Sheet FINAL by Matthew Self on Scribd

To read the KDOT draft in full, see the document below: (For details on the Heartland Flyer Extension, see page 172)

Public Comment Final-draft-2022 Kansas State Rail Plan by Matthew Self on Scribd