skip to nav skip to content
There are concerns that an effort by Amtrak to maintain passenger rail service from Chicago to Los Angeles may end up bypassing Kansas and two other states.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe has moved its freight operations from a rail line that runs through New Mexico, Colorado and across Kansas. That's creating a financial challenge for Amtrak and its Southwest Chief passenger service in those states.
Amtrak and BNSF want Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico to help with $100 million in needed improvements to the rail line over a 10-year period, but transportation officials in the three states say they won't have the funding because of tight budgets.
Amtrak has suggested that it may reroute the Southwest Chief at Newton, taking it south through Wichita and into Oklahoma. That would bypass stops along the current route in western Kansas and parts of New Mexico and Colorado.
Wichita government and business leaders are watching the situation. They want to make sure the passenger route stays in Kansas.
Wichita City Council Member Pete Meitzner said the city needs to pay close attention to this issue and watch for any challenges or opportunities that may come up.
Meitzner said the city supports keeping the Southwest Chief route in western Kansas, but if the route is changed, the council needs to be ready to take any necessary steps to ensure there will be a passenger rail stop in Wichita.