ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Railroads are looking to make a comeback, and a new federal grant should keep Missouri trains chugging along.
The $268 million grant was awarded to a Midwest Consortium of states by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Missouri’s piece of the pie will go toward new coaches. MoDOT Administrator of Railroads Rod Massman says the new coaches will save the state some much needed cash.
“Basically, we pay Amtrak for the use of their equipment, the maintenance on that equipment and the cost to run the service,” Massman says. “We’ll be paying Amtrak less because we will now own our own equipment, and we will also pay less for maintenance costs because there will be less problems out there – less things that will break.”
Massman says the new cars will be lighter and more eco-friendly, and will also have a higher capacity for passengers. About eight new coaches are expected, and they will likely replace some of the forty- to fifty-year-old cars that Amtrak currently offers. The hope is that the update will attract new customers to public transportation.
“We’re hoping that it will be a good reason for people who may have never been out on the trains before to go ahead and give them a try with the brand new equipment,” Massman says.
He says that though Missouri’s portion of the four-state grant is smaller due to its limited railroad usage, the consortium of states will allow for a pooling of resources and greater inter-state cooperation.
The grant stipulates that the new cars must be American-made and Massman says it is possible some Missouri manufacturers could see business from the deal, though such details are yet to be worked out.
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