A few months ago I put it upon myself to write up, at least in bare outline, the Big Picture Rail Plan for Arkansas. I worked on it, and rewrote, and fussed over the bigger picture and finer details. I started to feel like I wasn’t making progress. I promised to write the BPRP up and all of you could read it soon. But it wasn’t coming together. I felt bad.
I needn’t have worried. This weekend our own New York member Steve Strauss, sent me a copy of Kansas State Rail Plan. Now this is a rail plan. A rail plan that took months if not years to research and write up. I now realize I would not have finished the BPRP for Arkansas. For one thing, the Kansas plan is 199 pages. For another it is 199 pages of exhaustive detail. This was written a team of people who broke every topic down and assigned it to specialists. So no, I wasn’t going to finish or even do justice to the rail plan for our state. I don’t feel bad now.
Skim through the document. You can go into the table of contents and click on a section that interests you.
Here is the Kansas State Rail Plan. PUBLIC_COMMENT_FINAL-DRAFT-2022_Kansas_State_Rail_Plan.pdf (ksdot.org)
Kansas one passenger rail route is Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. As the Plan states, “Amtrak’s Southwest Chief operates one daily trip in each direction on its 2,265-mile route from Chicago to Los Angeles. The long-distance multistate service is operated almost entirely on track owned by BNSF (Figure 6-2). In Kansas, the service operates on 473 miles track exclusively owned by BNSF.”
All six stops in Kansas are at night. The Kansas DOT acknowledges that many passengers from rural communities ride the Southwest Chief because access to other modes of transportation are limited. I wonder what impact more trains would have? How many more jobs created? How much less CO2 is kept out of the atmosphere?
So this is what our BPRP needs to look like. Except I was going to add a section on how to pay for it. There are new state chartered green banks and a possible National Infrastructure Bank. There is that $1.6 billion budget surplus. We have the money and the opportunity. Let’s create our own state rail plan that includes passenger rail. Let’s do this.