On Monday, representatives of the State of Missouri; the city of California, Mo.; Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak kicked off the construction of a new $8.1 million, 9,000-foot railroad side track to add capacity and reduce delays on the route used by Amtrak Missouri River Runner trains between Kansas City and St. Louis.
The new siding, located just west of California, will unclog a major “bottleneck” caused by a 25-mile stretch of single track and enable slower freight trains to move off the main line, enabling faster Amtrak trains to pass and reduce delays by nearly 17 percent, annually.
When finished in December 2009, the siding will accommodate the mile-and-a-half long Union Pacific coal trains that haul low-sulfur coal from Wyoming to electric utilities in the St. Louis area and eastern power generation facilities. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) secured the funding for this project from state funds, complemented with a federal grant from the Federal Railroad Administration.
This location was chosen after a University of Missouri study estimated a siding in this area would annually reduce delays to Amtrak trains by nearly 17 percent. MoDOT commissioned the study in 2006 in order to determine where rail line capacity enhancements should be made to improve train velocity.