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MOKSRail News           Jan.-Feb., 2002

Missouri-Kansas Rail Passenger Coalition

P. O. Box 1183, Mission, KS  66202-1183


LaPlata Holds Open House for Refurbished Station

Wall to Wall People; Whole Town Turns Out to See Amtrak Depot                                                                                                         


The whole town of LaPlata, Mo. (population 1,401) turned out for an open house to celebrate the completion of interior restoration of the art deco Amtrak station in that community in December.  LaPlata, located just 14 miles south of Truman State University in Kirksville, is the only stop for the Southwest Chief in Missouri outside Kansas City.

            The former Santa Fe station at LaPlata is more than 100 years old.  A newspaper reprint displayed on a wall of the station recalls the day 114 years ago when the Santa Fe chose to build its line through LaPlata on its way to Chicago.  The depot was built in 1887 but a fire toward the end of World War II forced a remodeling and the station has now been restored to the way it looked in 1945.

            Friends for LaPlata Preservation, a local group of more than 100 members, and the NEMO Model Railroad Club began work on the exterior of the station in 1996, saving it after it had fallen into serious disrepair.  With volunteer labor, they completed restoration of the exterior of the building a few years ago.  A grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and matched by the city of LaPlata, provided for a Nature Scape of natural prairie grasses on the east side of the station that reflect the city’s heritage, and community residents worked with Truman State University to accommodate student ridership.  Grants from the Great American Station Foundation, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and the Surbeck Charitable Trust provided additional money, which was used to restore the interior.

             Interior walls of the station display numerous photos and advertisements from the many Santa Fe and Amtrak trains that have stopped at the station over the years.  Light streams into the station from the windows and glass blocks, and the station is opened at train time by LaPlata Bob, the man who once inspired the Southwest Chief menu item by that name.  It’s not unusual at holiday times for the station to see more than 20 students boarding a single train, though on the Saturday of the open house only two passengers boarded a not-too-late #4.

            Note cards and pen and ink drawings of the station by Ann Bullock, President of the Friends for LaPlata Preservation, are available for sale at modest prices as collectors’ items.  For more information contact the Friends for LaPlata Preservation, 12543 Old Highway 63, LaPlata, Mo.  63549.



   Wall to wall people filled the LaPlata Amtrak station at the open house in December.  Then, as the Southwest Chief

    rolled to a stop, the crowd moved outside to see the train.  LaPlata serves Kirksville and all of Northeast Missouri as

    the only Missouri Amtrak stop outside Kansas City on the Chief.



MOKSRail News                    Jan.-Feb., 2002     2


Friday, February 1, 2002

National Association of Railroad Passengers, 900 2nd St., N.E., Suite 308

Washington, DC 20002-3557

Contact:  Ross Capon <> 202/408-8362, fax 202/408-8287


February 1, Amtrak President & CEO George D. Warrington announced the layoff of 1,000 employees (700 agreement; 300 non-agreement), reduced staffing hours at 73 stations, and a number of other actions aimed at enabling Amtrak to make it to September 30, the end of the fiscal year.


He said Amtrak needs a $1.2 billion appropriation for FY 2003 in order to avoid "substantial route cuts" on October 1. He told a news conference that a $521 million appropriation would mean only the Northeast Corridor "would have an opportunity to run." He indicated plans to post the legally required six months' advance notice of discontinuance on March 28 for all long-distance trains, to prepare for the possibility that Congress would not provide the needed funds.


The National Association of Railroad Passengers strongly believes that the existing system is "skeletal," (to use Warrington's own words) and should be continued in its entirety. We believe that the general public--particularly since September 11--agrees with the importance of

maintaining and improving our national passenger rail network, especially through cooperative federal/state investment in short-distance corridors around the nation. In December, for example,

passenger-miles on Amtrak rose 3.8% while domestic aviation fell 13.2%. (On Amtrak's sleeping cars, passenger-miles rose 7% and revenues rose 13%.)


The federal government this year will spend $33 billion on highways, $13 billion on aviation, but only $570 million on intercity passenger rail. Moreover, the federal government offers 80% matches to encourage states to focus their investments on highways and aviation. Federal matches to support state investments for intercity passenger rail are virtually non-existent.


This "anti-rail" funding bias has helped put Amtrak in its present situation. At best, Amtrak's clear statement today may be a step toward ending the anti-rail bias in federal funding policy. It is painful to see valued employees laid off in a business that should be growing, but we understand Amtrak's decision not to seek a supplemental appropriation. Such an effort would be time-consuming, with no assurance of success, and would be a distraction from the central issue before the public: the long-term future of a connected, intercity passenger rail network.


Two things should be clear regarding elimination of the long-distance network: 

* It would be a decision "for all time" and virtually impossible to reverse in a later, more enlightened era, and

* The result would increase the cost of operating state-supported short-distance trains, which no longer would share facility costs--or connecting passenger revenues--with long-distance trains.



NARP Region 9 meeting - March 16 - Ft. Worth, TX  (see page 9)


Briefly....  The Federal Railroad Administration is allowing Chicago-Detroit Amtrak trains 

to run at 90 MPH over 40 miles of the route that are covered by the new Incremental Train Control System (ITCS, an advanced signalling system).   Missouri-based Harmon Industries, now a part of GE, was responsible for a major portion of the ITCS....  Several MOKSRail members participated in conducting tours of Kansas City Union Station for the Pullman Passenger Car Alliance, which held a weekend national meeting in Kansas City Jan. 12-14.  The volunteers took groups of the visitors through the Union Station, disseminating information about the station, its past and present.  Among the MOKSRail members who participated were Jim Asplund, Leonard Dunaway, John Hake, John Wegner, and Pete and Carolyn McMasters. The approximately 260 passenger car owners and enthusiasts also rode the Branson Train (which was at Union Station for the convention) to Topeka to visit the BNSF shops there.  Several of the volunteers also made that trip and helped to orient the visitors to the railroad history of the Midwest.  Some of the same folks will be hosts when the train is open to the public at the station Jan. 19-21....  During the past year, several new folks have joined MOKSRail, and some "old-timers" have returned.  Those include: Leonard and Edith Dunaway, Overland Park, KS; Ernest Sutherlin, Arnold, MO; Eugene Copple, Kansas City, MO; Dan & Marilyn Lefholz, Lexington, MO: Jack & Pat Wendleton, Hermann, MO; James (Ross) Reed, Olathe, KS; William S. Howard, Overland Park, KS;  Mr. & Mrs. Gutdayzke, St. Louis, MO; Larry Parrish, Lenexa, KS; James A. Woods, Topeka, KS.; Mitch Carlson, Shawnee, KS.  Also to be noted: member Donald Steinmeyer, Ballwin, MO and member R.S. Crute of Independence, MO have both passed away....  The Kansas/Missouri ice storm of January 29-31 caused widespread power outages which affected nearly every signal on the Union Pacific between Independence and Sedalia.  Amtrak’s eastbound Ann Rutledge (train 304) on the 31st left Independence on time but was 3 hours and 14 minutes late leaving Sedalia, while westbound train 303 didn’t arrive at Kansas City until 3:37am the next day (almost 7 hours late)!  The train 306/303 crew change happened just west of Warrensburg that day but a relief crew (who had crewed #3, the westbound Chief) had to be called to take over train 303 from Lee’s Summit to Kansas City because of the federal hours of service law....  Kansas City Union Station hosted its annual model train show on two weekends in October and November.  MOKSRail passed out thousands of schedules and other information about train travel.  Helping at the MOKSRail display were  Nancy Wagner, Steve Saale, Ross Reed, Leonard Dunaway, Wayne Sangster, Danny Lane, Doug Ohlemeier, Pete and Carolyn McMasters and David Riddle.  Special thanks go to Nancy Wagner who helped with the set-up on Friday night in November, and came back on Sunday evening to assist with the packing up.  Several members came for a couple of sessions or even longer....  The Texas Association of Rail Passengers,, will host the National Association of Railroad Passengers’ Region 9 meeting March 16 in Fort Worth, Texas.  Both Kansas and Missouri are a part of NARP’s Region 9, and the meeting is open to anyone interested in a balanced transportation system in Texas and the surrounding states by improving and expanding the movement of goods and people by rail.  The meeting will be held at Ft. Worth’s Intermodal Transportation Center.  Contact Tim Geeslin, NARP Region 9 Director, at for more details or contact the NARP Washington office.... 

MOKSRail News                    Jan.-Feb., 2002   10

Missouri:  Holden Zeroes

‘General Revenue’ Passenger Rail Funding

            Faced with extreme declines in sales tax and other revenue and a growing lack of other alternatives to cut, Missouri Governor Bob Holden has recommended that the legislature not appropriate money for rail passenger service in his Fiscal Year 2003 budget. 

            Instead, the governor has asked the legislature to fund the cuts from Missouri’s “Rainy Day” fund.  Doing so would require approval by a 2/3 majority in both houses of the legislature and would face a constitutional stipulation that the money be repaid within 3 years.

            There are some cuts that I am unwilling to recommend,” Holden wrote in the January 23 Letter of Budget Transmittal for FY 2003 that he sent the legislature with his budget.  “I am calling on the General Assembly to join me in using the state’s rainy day fund to preserve critical services that would have to otherwise be reduced to balance the budget.  The rainy day fund was established to give the state extra resources when it most needs them.  The time has come to use these funds,” he concluded.           

            Some legislators and newspapers disagreed with that view, however.  Holden has put critics on the spot by earmarking the budget reserve for politically popular programs,” the January 27 Kansas City Star noted as it rattled off the budget cuts the Governor wanted to tap the fund for.  “If they vote against using the budget reserve, they can be accused of voting against better nursing home inspections.  Against help for the mentally ill.  Against therapy for autistic and disabled children.  Even against Amtrak rail service.”

            Somewhat significant, however, is that even though the Star article mentioned the rail passenger cuts once, the article never mentioned them again (ok, not surprising for the Star).  It did go on to offer details about each of the other proposed cuts and rationale for the funding.

            The ‘Rainy Day’ funding will be difficult to get, because the numbers aren’t good.  In a budget bleeding with cuts already, it does not help that the funding would require every person in the state to contribute more than $1.10 toward the funding, while each passenger would receive the benefit of more than $30.27 in state funding, according to calculations that can be made from numbers provided with the Governor’s Letter of Budget Transmittal.  According to official state web sites ( and, the state total resident population in Census 2000 was 5,595,211, while ridership on the trains in 2000 was 204,766 and there was a FY 2002 appropriation of $6,200,000 for them.

            Still, various groups are trying to get the funding passed, as indicated in the enclosed sample letter that is being distributed in the Washington, Mo., Amtrak station.  Missouri residents can get the name and Capitol room number of their state representative and senator by visiting Missouri’s web page or by calling your county’s elections office.

            Here’s a complete look at Governor Holden’s recommended FY 2003 Multimodal Budget, as copied from

Capital Assistance for Transportation of






Elderly and Handicapped Citizens





State Aid for Transportation of Elderly,






Handicapped, and Low-Income Citizens




Urban Transit Grants







Small Urban and Rural Transportation





Public Transit Capital Grants






Planning Grants







Local Rail Freight Assistance Program





State Amtrak Assistance






Amtrak Station Improvements/Advertising






MOKSRail News                    Jan.-Feb., 2002   11

            With all that is happening with Amtrak, it may be important to note to your legislator that more than half of the General Revenue funds in the MoDOT budget request are for rail passenger needs independent of Amtrak’s life as a corporation.  Preliminary engineering and environmental study work --currently required for any possible future federal money --would be begun under the budget request.  The preliminary engineering money has been requested in past years but never appropriated, however, so it is “new” money and was not reflected in the cuts from the existing budget.  The money would have to be included over and above the money to fund the cuts.  It would begin to move Missouri toward the plan in the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) for what is now being described as “implementation of a higher speed rail corridor.”

            Funding for the current Amtrak service was threatened in the current fiscal year as the state’s income began to fall with the recession.  Appeals to the Governor’s office last year were successful in fighting off cuts in the operational funds for the service at that time.