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House budget panel rejects Amtrak request

Kansas City Star
JEFFERSON CITY — The House Budget Committee has narrowly rejected a funding request sought by Amtrak to continue its twice-daily, cross-state passenger service for the next several months.

Unless lawmakers later reverse course, the committee's vote Tuesday would leave Missouri with only one train running between St. Louis and Kansas City, meaning passengers could no longer make a round trip in one day.

Although state transportation officials have said they have enough funding to last only until the end of this month, an Amtrak spokesman said Tuesday that there is no specific date for one of the two trains to halt.

“We'll continue working with lawmakers on the issue, and as long as there's evidence the legislature is still considering supplemental appropriations, we'll continue to operate the service,” said Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman based in Chicago.

Amtrak service costs the state about $6.2 million annually. But this year, as it did last year, the legislature appropriated just $5 million for Amtrak.

Last year, when Amtrak threatened to end one of the two trains by March 1, 2003, the legislature agreed to spend an additional $800,000 and state officials struck a deal with Amtrak to impose a $5-per-passenger surcharge on Missouri trips.