Representatives of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the City of California, Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak opened a new $8.1 million, 9,000-foot railroad side track that adds capacity and will 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, Mo., helps unclog a major "bottleneck" that was caused by a 25-mile stretch of single-track and enables slower freight trains to move off the main line, allowing faster Amtrak trains to pass. It is also estimated to annually reduce passenger train delays by nearly 17 percent.
The siding enables the mile-and-a-half long Union Pacific trains that haul low-sulfur coal from Wyoming to electric utilities in the St. Louis area and eastern power generation facilities to clear the way for Amtrak trains. MoDOT secured $4.8 million in state funds for this project, complemented with a $3.3 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration.
Amtrak also announced it had a record-breaking Thanksgiving holiday travel week, carrying 685,876 passengers, including 127,577 on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
"More and more people are choosing Amtrak for their traveling needs and the record number for Thanksgiving shows what this railroad is capable of achieving," said Amtrak
President/CEO Joseph Boardman, noting this year's ridership was up four percent over last year's 659,184 and surpassed the previous record of 666,716 riders set in 2007.
Comparing Thanksgiving 2009 to Thanksgiving 2008, there was a 5.5 percent increase in ridership on the Northeast Corridor, a 2.9 percent increase on state-supported trains and other short distance corridors, and a 4.7 percent increase on long-distance trains.
The Thanksgiving holiday travel week extended from November 24 through November 30. In preparation for the anticipated heavy passenger volume, Amtrak added extra trains along the Northeast Corridor and the Pacific Northwest and increased capacity on trains operating in California and the Midwest, according to the company.