Enhancing passenger rail service and improving freight rail access are among the top public recommendations included in a new draft State Rail Plan, intended to provide a 20-year strategic framework for passenger and freight rail development in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Transportation seeks the public’s feedback on the plan at meetings in April throughout the state.
The meeting in northeast Missouri will be held on Thursday, April 12 from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Hannibal Nutrition Center, 219 S. 10th Street in Hannibal. A formal presentation will be made at 4:45 p.m., but the meeting is in an open house format, so the public can come and go as they please.
“Missourians told us both freight and passenger rail provide numerous economic, environmental and transportation benefits to the state,” said Eric Curtit, state administrator of railroads. “They made it very clear increased access to both types of service is important to Missouri’s future.”
Draft recommendations also call for completion of projects designed to improve the reliability of the state-supported Amtrak Missouri River Runner service, with a longer-term goal of adding more trains and schedule options to the route. This service currently operates at 79 mph and with incremental improvements could travel as fast as 90 mph. The plan also proposes a staged approach to establishing dedicated high-speed passenger rail service (110 mph or higher) between St. Louis and Kansas City and setting priorities for new corridor developments, such as service to Springfield and Hannibal and feeder bus routes to Branson, Columbia and St. Joseph.
Proposals to maximize the economic benefits of freight rail in coordination with the Missouri Department of Economic Development are also included. As funding becomes available, the plan suggests identifying ways to encourage intermodal access at Missouri ports by increasing capacity of existing tracks, industrial spurs and sidings and by supporting the development of additional rail access where new industrial development opportunities exist.
The recommendations also include an array of policy proposals to better fund and encourage the continued development of Missouri’s rail system.
Amtrak, freight railroads operating in Missouri, shippers, economic and transportation agencies and citizens participated in community leader workshops and public meetings last fall.