Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

A note about northwest Arkansas (and regional rail requirements)

At TFA, we do not consider airlines to be a natural enemy. In fact, Southwest continues to be an icon of good management and passenger service. Airlines are having a hard time in the bleak economic conditions. We know that this is a temporary situation.

The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport announces the loss of its only daily direct service to Los Angeles. While supporters of rail transit have endured 40 years of consistently bad news, this is no cause for gloating. No doubt, suppliers are feeling less of a need to connect with Wal Mart corporate offices in Bentonville.

Ch. 40/29 reports.

Next month, the airport will lose its direct service to Los Angeles. That’s just one flight per day, but it’s the latest in a round of route-cutting at XNA and most other airports across the country.

“January 6th of last year, we lost the last Salt Lake flight that we had. We lost the Reagan flight, the direct to D.C. flight. We’ve also lost the direct Miami flight,” said Kelly Johnson, the airport director at Northwest Arkansas Regional.

Here is the analysis.

Fayetteville-Springdale-Bentonbille-Rogers is,like so many second dary cities (even some larger cities) unserved by Amtrak. The region has no passenger rail service.

My 1956 Official Guide shows a single Frisco train operating through Fayetteville from St. Louis to Fort Smit and on to Oklahoma and Texas. That is not a lot. Regionally, Springfield (about an hour away fron Fayetteville and right next door to Branson) enjoyed two schedules daily between Kansas City and Memphis and St. Louis and Oklahoma on the Frisco.

Lest you think we are drifting into fond reminiscences of the golden days of yesteryear, the purpose of the exercise is to recall a more vibrant and diverse transportation system. My 1956 Official Guide is thick with duplicated and unnecessary trains. It is also full of necessary routes long since abandoned.These trains operated together (or they were intended to anyway) as part of an interconnecting network.

Amtrak is financially unable to provide a necessary transportation alternative to large sections of the nation. It is not as simple as magically providing equipment for new trains between St. Louis and Oklahoma or Kansas City and the southeast. What is required is the commitment to equip and operate a true nationwide web of connecting trains serving towns of all sizes.


Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

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