Heartland Flyer extension may boost Kansas economy

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Kansas could see an extension to Amtrak travel in 2020.

Amtrak has requested funding from the federal government to extend the Heartland Flyer north to the city of Newton.

"There's opportunity now to grow improvements to our downtown, to grow food service to passengers who maybe making connections, parking changes that we can make to improve passenger experience," says Barth Haughes, Newton City Commissioner.

Casa Fiesta is one of the few restaurants in Newton open late on Sunday nights. Business could bring in more money if more people travel by train through Kansas.

"We’ve already thought about maybe expanding or having another location here in Newton," says Priscilla Ramirez, Manager of Casa Fiesta. "I feel like this would only increase the possibility, just reassure us that we need to think about the future."

The future could be brighter than ever for area restaurants if the Heartland Flyer gets an extension.

Haughes says Amtrak makes about $1.7 million at the Newton train stop. If the Amtrak plan passes, he believes that revenue could double and help increase tourism .

"I think there's opportunity to improve rail service throughout Kansas, not just Newton not just Wichita," says Haughes.

The BNSF Railway Company is currently doing a study on what track improvements would be needed between Newton and Oklahoma City. The study is expected to be finished and presented to the Kansas Department of Transportation in a few weeks.