WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The BNSF Railway and Amtrak will operate a special inspection trip between Oklahoma City and Kansas City through Wichita on Friday. Officials said this is the next step in restoring passenger rail service between Oklahoma City and Kansas City.
“There’s only three cities in the top 50 that Amtrak doesn’t serve today and Wichita being one of them,” said Pete Meitzner, Wichita City Council. “There’s a big desire when they connect population centers and the centers around the population centers.”
The trip will start out of Oklahoma City and end at Kansas City Union Station in the afternoon.
Dana Tulk has lived in Wichita for nearly 45 years.
When he first moved here, it wasn’t uncommon to see a passenger train rolling through downtown.
“I mean the trains were here, since what you said, ’79, they left, I am surprised the train doesn’t come through here,” said Tulk.
Tulk says hearing that Amtrak could set up shop here once again is an idea he is on board for.
“I think it’s great, you know, we really need that, it would be good to have a train come back here,” said Tulk.
In years past, Wichita tried to bring passenger rail service back to the downtown area.
In 2012, the city requested 13-million dollars to help with that venture, but that effort was shot down by the Federal Government.
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell says this can fill a void for many travelers.
“This fills a gap that literally can connect people from San Antonio to Chicago and Chicago all the way to Los Angeles,” said Longwell.
Bringing people to Wichita from near and far is music to the ears of J.D. Young.
Young is the owner of Funky Monkey Shaved Ice 21+ at Union Station.
“So if we have people getting off, hundreds of people a week that just boost our business if we can snag a percentage, a small percentage of it,” said Young.
Young say this possibility would not only help his business, but Wichita as a whole.
“I’m very excited, you know, it’s just another thing to add to Wichita, to bring in more revenue for us, local businesses to grow our economy,” said Young.
If Amtrak does return, Meitzner says Union Station would be used as the location for the Wichita stop.
He says he is unsure what type of work would have to be done on the current building.
However, he says it would be a cooperative effort between the city and the developers who are currently revitalizing this area.
The public is encouraged to welcome the Amtrak train when it arrives and show support for a return of service to Wichita. The train is expected to arrive around 11:45 a.m. and will depart Union Station before 12:30 p.m.