Amtrak to pay for next step in possible return to Wichita

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

"I think that it would be really cool way to get from place to place, throughout Kansas and the Midwest, even," said Alexandria Brun.

She and her friend Madison Clinton both like the idea of having passenger rail travel available in Wichita.

"I feel like trains are one of those fun.. like you get the experience of being on a  train and you get somewhere mildly quickly," said Clinton.  "So, yes, I would love a train."

Making that fun happen is a little closer to reality for the City of Wichita.  Thursday the city announced Amtrak will pay for a capital study to look at what improvements need to happen before passenger trains can run from Oklahoma City through Wichita to Newton and back.

"What kind of track work needs to be done, particularly between Newton and Mulvane, what kind of platform work needs to be done...to get people on and off the trains," explained Councilwoman Cindy Claycomb.  "What safety issues might there be?...What are those capital costs of getting those things done?"
Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF) owns the tracks and has already agreed to do the study.  Claycomb says Wichitans' travel patterns played a big part in getting Amtrak to cover the cost.

"This route has some real potential because the bus service has been really popular between here...and Newton and here and Oklahoma City," she said.

There's no word yet on when the study will begin.  Some Kansans remain skeptical.

"It's been mentioned and it's never gone very far," said Vada Stafford, though she does like the idea of traveling by train.  "But I think it would be fun."

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