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Kansas Inches Closer to Expanding Passenger Rail Service

Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson has signed bills which include Kansas in the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact and establishing a passenger rail service program for Kansas.

“Passenger rail service in Kansas would create economic opportunities for the future, but the planning must begin now,” Gov. Parkinson said. “A strong public infrastructure system helps attract businesses and jobs to our state, and a high speed rail service is another piece in furthering our economic recovery. I am pleased to sign these two bills that will set the gears in motion for increased avenues of transportation in Kansas and the entire Midwest.”

The bills signed by Gov. Parkinson gives the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) the authority to continue working on the expansion of passenger rail service in the state.

The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact, which includes Missouri and other Midwest states, was designed to promote improvements to passenger rail service and the development of plans for long-range high speed rail service in the Midwest. The bill also allows KDOT to talk to other states and others about passenger rail service.

The other bill allows KDOT the authority to work on expanding passenger rail service and to seek more grants from the federal government for it.

KDOT also recent offered four alternatives that would connect Kansas City’s Union Station with the Heartland Flyer, the passenger rail service between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas.

However, it’s still too early to tell which alternative, if any, would find favor with legislators and when a choice would be made, said Seth Bundy, a spokesman for the governor office.

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