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Low Gasoline Prices Spell Heartland Flyer Trouble

February 10, 2016

Historically Amtrak ridership declines with falling gasoline prices. Heartland Flyer December 2015 numbers were off 18% while November’s figures were down 5%. This is bad news for what promises to be a challenging year. Low ridership will only increase Amtrak cost pressures.

In January, TxDOT Rail Director Eric Steavens announced TxDOT and ODOT would issue requests to increase Heartland Flyer frequency from one train a day to two without cost increases. Steavens commented that recent state cost increases have forced the issue. He had no comment with regard to capital requirements to increase track handling capacity.

Oklahoma is struggling through its worst fiscal condition in memory. The state budget shortfall is nearly $1 billion. State legislators are now seeking ways to fill this fiscal gap. The Heartland Flyer has never been a favorite at ODOT with the Highway lobbyists in charge.

So, it is more important than ever to take that ride you have put off for so long. Book your trip at


Stillwater Central Passenger Requirements - OKC - Tulsa

January 11, 2016

Oh ye of little faith… consider this... The Stillwater Central Railroad (SWLC) purchased a 97.5 mile rail line from the state in August of 2014. The line extends from Sapulpa to Oklahoma City. With the Sooner Sub sale, Stillwater Central Railway assumed certain contractual obligations. SWLC must:

1. Establish a pilot Passenger Project by the end of 2019; minimally, twice daily service, seven days a week, for six months. The penalty if they fail is $2.8 million, already in escrow.

2. Provide $2.185 million in capital to improve the railroad to provide passenger service.

3. Provide continuous daily passenger service w/in 10 years of closing if the pilot is successful.

4. Reconstruct a rail line into or near Cushing, Oklahoma from a point on the Del City-Sapulpa rail line.


ODOT Fails for 19th year to Fulfill Statutory Requirement

For another year, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has failed to complete its statutory obligations. Consider the 1996 requirement for ODOT to reintroduce passenger rail service between stops in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties. State Statutes are available for all online for your convenience.


Oklahoma Statute (O.S.) 66-321-323, The Oklahoma Tourism and Passenger Rail Act, defines passenger rail service as, “…passenger rail service, including but not limited to a route linking stations in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties with other primary points in the national railroad passenger system.”

If you are a Tulsa passenger rail supporter, you should be furious. ODOT officials continue to make excuses, but this is just what they are, excuses.

It is everyone’s responsibility to let state legislators know ODOT failed you. Who are your legislators?

Find out at the same place we found this statute: www.oklegislature.gov/ A simple letter to your state representative and state senator will do a world of good.

We invite you to write to your state representative, state senator, and Governor Fallin. Ask why passenger rail service does not exist between Tulsa and Oklahoma counties. This has been a statutory required for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation since 1996.
Click here for a link to locate your state representative and state senator. State Statues are also located on this website.

Governor Fallin's address is
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

December 23, 2015: Your Highway System, the Gift that Keeps on... Taking...

This USDOT blog post from the Federal Highway Administration deserves special attention. The wonders of the US Highway System "keep on giving?"

In effect the US Highway system does not give...

It takes...

It takes 35,000 to 40,000 lives each year. It takes an inordinate amount of taxpayer dollars to support. Oklahoma alone budgets some $1.5 billion to $2 billion annually for roads and the nation tens of billions. It takes your time and sanity, stuck in traffic holding a steering wheel. It takes your money, spent on gasoline, maintenance, insurance, and automotive depreciation.

When will our society realize there is a better way? Time spent on a train is your own. Rail transportation is safe. It does not come with hidden costs. It is clean and efficient. .

We invite you to comment on this story. Request more passenger rail service for the betterment of the nation and the world.
Click here for the story.

December 16, 2015: Oklahoma Needs Passenger Trains

This is an excellent story from NON DOC magazine. Thanks to Rosemary Meacham-Zittel. Passegner Rail Oklahoma continues, some fifteen years beyond our beginning to preserve and expand passenger rail in Oklahoma and the surrounding region.

Click here for the story.

December 10, 2015: Railway Age - Amtrak CEO Boardman Announces Retirement

"Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman informed the Amtrak Board of Directors on Dec. 9, 2015 that he plans to retire from Amtrak in September 2016, following nearly eight years of service with the railroad." Click here for the story.

Passenger Rail Oklahoma is pleased with this announcement. Boardman has served during an era when Amtrak has deliberately misinterpreted federal requirements through the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) Section 209. This has threatened Oklahoma passenger rail service, restored in 1999 through dramatically increased costs. Oklahoma advocates desire to see Boardman replaced with a CEO who better understands Amtrak's essential national network of passenger trains and not just those of the Northeast Corridor.

Passenger Rail Oklahoma is also highly critical of Boardman's administration handling of challenges to the Southwest Chief long distance train. States were approached for funding to restore the route to 79-mph operation. Under federal law, these capital requirements are an Amtrak responsibility.

August 18, 2015: Welcome to KTOK AM-1000 Gwin Faulconer -Lippert Show Listeners!

The Eastern Flyer is delayed but not forgotten. Sometimes old news stories remain relevant to today’s activities. This June 1, 2015 Tulsa World article by Jarrel Wade explains why the Eastern Flyer is delayed.

So, timing is everything. Unfortunately, the Eastern Flyer has been placed on the back burner to save a passenger train, in Indiana. Amtrak stood ready to cut the Hoosier State. Iowa Pacific is now giving it a go.

Still, this is not necessarily a sign the Eastern Flyer project is dead. The Hoosier State Train Hoosier State Train is now running with Iowa Pacific Holdings equipment. Had Iowa Pacific not intervened, the Hoosier State would have been discontinued on April 1, 2015.

Work continues behind the scenes to ensure the Eastern Flyer, when deployed, will operate between downtown Tulsa and downtown Oklahoma City. This is not a promise, but we are hopeful. We appreciate your patience and support.

August 10, 2015: GOOD NEWS!!! Bike Racks Returning to Heartland Flyer.

We received word August 8 that Bike Racks will be returning to the Heartland Flyer. Details follow as repeated from Amtrak conversations:

According to Amtrak, "We have finally come up with an implementation date for handling bikes on the Heartland Flyer. The first date will be August 17, 2015. Passengers will need to make reservations in order to transport their bikes. Reservations will not be allowed prior to this date. There will not be any charge associated with the bike reservation. The train can only handle 12 bikes and the conductor will load the bikes in the bike racks. Please contact me if you have any questions."

"Only 12 racks have been installed due to limited space. Motorized bikes are not allowed because the bikes will need to be lifited up to the conductor. This is a weight and safety issue. The racks are installed in the convedrted F-40 locomotive (cab car)."

August 3, 2015: What Do Indiana and Oklahoma Have in Common?

On August 2, 2015 Iowa Pacific Holdings began providing onboard staff, equipment, and maintenance for the Hoosier State passenger train. Called a "blended service" Amtrak provides the conductor, engineer and reservations.

In Oklahoma, Iowa Pacific has also been dubbed by the Stillwater Central Railroad as the operator of a new train called the Eastern Flyer. We anticipate once Iowa Pacific settles into operation of the Hoosier State they will be back in Oklahoma working more diligently to deploy the long delayed Eastern Flyer.

In This Week on the Flyer Corridor we discuss this and other Oklahoma passenger rail news.

For more information join these communities:

Facebook Friends of the Eastern Flyer

For Heartland Flyer reservations contact Amtrak

Official Eastern Flyer Information

Official Eastern Flyer Facebook Page

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For More information about Passenger Rail Oklahoma
contact Evan Stair at EvanStair@PassengerRailOK.org

Copyright 2015, Passenger Rail Oklahoma