WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – In the continued push to bring an Amtrak passenger train route back through the Wichita area, an inspection train traveled from Oklahoma City to Kansas City today stopping in the air capital.
Amtrak hasn’t had passenger rail car service in Wichita since 1979, but a recent push by train enthusiasts and elected officials are making the comeback a potential.
“This is just one more thing that makes our city and our state a better state,” Wichita city councilman Pete Meitzner said.
Meitzner has pushed the idea, saying he sees the value in it and what it could do for not only Wichita, but the I-35 corridor. The train made stops in Arkansas City and Newton as well today. Meitzner and fellow city councilman Jeff Blubaugh were onboard the train.
“Well, it’s really an exciting opportunity for the state of Kansas and also for the state of Oklahoma, if we can get this line extended from Oklahoma City to Kansas City or Newton, really, it’s going to be great for the economic development of the entire region,” Arkansas City city manager Nick Hernandez said.
Hernandez was one of the elected officials who got to ride the train today along with Newton mayor Barth Hague. At both of their town stops, they got to get off the train first to a crowd of train enthusiasts, who cheered and hollered.
“The opportunity for economic development with that is pretty profound for us as it would be with a lot of other communities along the line. It’s something we want a lot,” Hague said.
Harvey County commissioner Chip Westfall said research shows, college towns with an Amtrak line going through town tend to attract students from further away along the same rail line. North Newton’s Bethel College and Arkansas City’s Cowley County Community College could be among those schools who see that influx in students, should the rail become a reality.
Those interested in the comeback of Amtrak are encouraged to contact their state legislators. The comeback would come with a potential huge cost, which could be shared between Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Authorities aren’t talking the specifics yet, but KSN will follow the discussions if the Amtrak comeback is to become reality.