Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which stops at six cities in Kansas, posted a record year with more than 367,000 passengers on its route from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Kansas City Star reports that the Jayhawk state accounted for almost 50,000 of those passengers, a slight increase over last year. Nationwide, Amtrak carried almost 31 million passengers in 2015.
The rail service is doing well, considering current conditions. Amtrak faced competition with lower oil prices. Gasoline in Kansas costs 24 cents below what it did a year ago. The Southwest Chief provides the only Amtrak service in Kansas, stopping in Lawrence, Topeka, Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City. Not long ago, the route was almost shut down because of tens of millions of dollars in track repairs were needed across western Kansas. But federal grants totaling $27.5 million saved the Southwest Chief and it appears to be back on track.