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Oklahoma Long Range Plan for Passenger Rail 2020 - 2045

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 8:44 AM

Long Range Transportation Plan

2020 - 2045

August 6, 2020


Oklahoma is presently served by one intercity Amtrak train, known as the Heartland Flyer, which operates between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas and carried 67,218 passengers in federal fiscal year 2018. The service is jointly funded by the states of Oklahoma and Texas. Additonally, Amtrak inaugurated a Thruway bus service in 2016 for railpassengers in Oklahoma and Kansas that connects Oklahoma City to Newton, Kansas, where travelers can connect to Amtrak’s Southwest Chief operating between Chicago and Los Angeles. Oklahoma continues to work with Amtrak and neighboring states on initiatves that could lead to expanded intercity and long-distance passenger service optons within the state. The needs assessment identfies the following five categories of passenger rail needs in Oklahoma and provides monetary costs estmates for each.

• Continuaton of operations of the Heartland Flyer between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth: Oklahoma subsidizes the existng Heartland Flyer service. The majority of the corridor used by the Heartland Flyer from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth has doubletracks installed for the BNSF operations, and PTC has been established for this facility. These features ensure the flow of both freight and passenger trains can be accomplished efficiently and effectvely.

  • Addition of a second daily roundtrip between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth: Amtrak continues to work with state DOTs in both Oklahoma and Texas to explore options for adding dual frequencies to the Heartland Flyer service. Oklahoma will support a share of the total costs.

  • Construction of a Heartland Flyer station near Thackerville:

    Amtrak is working with the BNSF Railway, the Chickasaw Nation, and ODOT regarding consideration of a new stop for the Heartland Flyer near the I-35 Thackerville exit, which is close to the Texas border. Thackerville is the site of the WinStar World Casino and Resort, the largest casino in Oklahoma. Early projections from Amtrak indicated that the stop could potentially increase Heartland Flyer ridership by 12 percent based on the anticipated economic boost to the area.

  • Extension of Heartland Flyer service to Newton, Kansas:

    Extending the Heartland Flyer to Newton, Kansas would provide connections to the national passenger rail network at both ends of the Heartland Flyer through the Texas Eagle at Fort Worth, Texas and the Southwest Chief in Newton, Kansas. The Southwest Chief in turn serves destinations between Los Angeles, California and Chicago, Illinois.

  • Intermodal passenger transportation: Intermodal transportation allows linkages between two or more modes to reduce automobile dependence and congestion in metropolitan areas. Oklahoma is exploring several options for intermodal connections that include passenger rail in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. In Oklahoma City, attention has focused on Santa Fe station to link passenger rail, transit, bike sharing, and the Oklahoma City

Streetcar in addition to other rail or transit services in the future. As a large metropolitan area, Tulsa represents an unrealized opportunity for passenger rail service expansion. However, the appetite for establishing the service has not reached a point to make this a viable option for Amtrak to pursue at this time despite its long-term goal to connect Tulsa to Kansas City, Missouri. As an alternative consideration, Amtrak may, at some point, consider establishing a Thruway bus service similar to what is currently in operation from Oklahoma City to Newton, Kansas. The level of utilization of this bus service would provide data to assist Amtrak in determining the demand for a more substantial investment of establishing a rail component.

Here is a link to the full Oklahoma Transportation Plan.