Missing from the map: Why Springfield isn’t in a new plan for higher-speed passenger trains

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In most developed countries in the world, you can climb aboard higher speed trains and zoom to your destination. But, in the U.S., highways and airlines remain most people’s preferred method of transport. Soon, however, another mode could gain more prominence.

Included in President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill is billions of dollars for the expansion of passenger train services. These upgrades could help lay the foundation for an expanded network of high-speed trains in certain corridors.

Earlier this year Biden explained, “Now its time to rebuild.” he continued, “It is not a plan that tinkers around the edges. It is a once in a generation investment in America.”

Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration released a long-range passenger rail plan for the Midwest region. However, of all the connected cities on the map, you won’t find Springfield, Missouri. In fact, it is one of the largest cities not appearing in the plan.

Natasha Longpine with Ozarks Transportation Organization stated it’s important for people to have options when it comes to travel.

“Options allow people to make choices that are different in their everyday lives.” She added, “That provides flexibility for people.”

OTO says the need and public interest may definitely be there.

“We do keep getting interest in the public regarding passenger rail,” Longpine said. “Usually we hear more about it when we do our long-range plan.”

OTO says, while interest has been growing, the conversation and planning are still in the early stages.


“We keep hearing interest. We just don’t really have a path forward on where to go next.”

In recent years, the Missouri Department of Transportation has studied the idea of adding more passenger trains throughout the state. Currently, the state funds two daily Amtrak round trips between St. Louis and Kansas City. Several times over the years, those services have been threatened with reduction and elimination due to funding shortfalls.

When asked about the new Midwest rail network proposal, MoDOT said, “We recognize the interest for increased passenger rail service to southwest Missouri, but there isn’t available funding to begin initial feasibility studies at this time.”

So far, there hasn’t been an organized effort by local or state lawmakers to support expanded passenger rail services in southwest Missouri. But it’s possible the Ozarks could still find itself on track eventually.

“I think having some additional form of connectivity between cities is going to always be coming up. Whether it is Amtrak or some other form of high-speed rail. I know Missouri has explored Hyperloop.” She added,” The technology is really moving and the conversation will move along with it.”

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