When the proofreader pushed the story back to the reporter, there was a note that was not a correction. A circled paragraph, with the note of "Cool!"
That paragraph read as follows:
"At this time, Newton is the busiest train station in Kansas. According to Amtrak, the station hosted 13,741 alightings in 2016, the most recent numbers available. Currently the only train serving the Newton station is the Southwest Chief, a long-distrance train between Chicago and Los Angeles."
Amtrak is important to Newton. It always has been. That traffic is important, even if it does come through at 3 a.m.
We sit, strategically, at a very interesting spot for Amtrak these days. A natural connecting point for the Heartland Flyer, which currently connects Oklahoma and Texas, and the Southwest Chief, which runs from L.A. to Chicago.
An attempt to close the hole between the Chief and the Flyer came along in 2016, a charter bus contract that connects Newton, Wichita and Oklahoma City. Ridership has been good. Unfortunately, for those just wanting to get from here to Wichita, that is not available. That could be part of what would open up if full train was added.
Amtrak, and at time the Southwest Chief, has been embattled for a very long time. Federal budgets routinely show proposed cuts that would damage or destroy long distance rail. If long distance rail goes away, the Chief goes away. Newton's connection to the rail system goes away.
Those thousands of people using the train will have to find other options — and that likely will not mean employing anyone in Newton.
All of this is why we continue to report on passenger rail. Should the Flyer be extended, we believe the train station would become an even busier place — and not all of that business would be happening at 3 a.m.
We support our Mayor as he goes with other Kansans to talk with Oklahoma about extending the line — and advocates with our own state government about funding to do the same.
As important as railroads have been to the history of Newton, we believe they are just as important to our future.
— Kansan Editorial Board.