Fund lapse could cost Oklahoma Amtrak service

Monday, December 6th 2004, 6:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma faces the prospect of losing Amtrak service if funding for the passenger train is not provided by September 2005, according to a state transportation official.

Amtrak's Heartland Flyer makes daily runs from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, and back.

Oklahoma resumed passenger rail service June 15, 1999, thanks to U.S. Sen. Don Nickles, who got $23 million for the train from the 1997 federal taxpayer relief act.

Oklahoma is paying $3.9 million on its current contract with Amtrak to have passenger rail service.

``We now have a contract through September of 2005. At that point in time, if we do not identify an additional funding source, we will not be able to fund the train,'' said Joe Kyle, manager of the rail programs division of the state Transportation Department.

``We are at a very critical point,'' he said.

Passenger rail boosters will be looking to the state Legislature and Congress in the coming year for more money.

A bill to earmark some state revenue for passenger rail service passed the state House during the last session earlier this year, but died in a Senate committee.