WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Amtrak leaders say they are all in on the idea for passenger rail service connecting the Amtrak Southwest Chief in Newton to the Amtrak Texas Eagle in Fort Worth.

Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn met with local leaders and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran on a Zoom conference Tuesday.

Flynn says Amtrak wants 160 new communities to be served, and they are sorting out funding. That includes a Kansas to Dallas-Fort Worth connection.

“And the Heartland Flyer extension exemplifies the potential that exists across the country,” said Flynn.

The proposal would extend the Heartland Flyer from its current Oklahoma City service into both Wichita and Newton, which would then connect passengers to the current Southwest Chief.

Amtrak hasn’t had service in Wichita since 1979.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Meitzner was in the meeting. He has been pushing for Amtrak for years in Wichita. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but Meitzner says the Tuesday meeting, with full support from Amtrak CEO Flynn and Amtrak President Stephen Garner, is a strong sign for expansion into Wichita.

“So, I’d like to think hey the funding’s approved, Amtrak says yes. Let’s go and you can get online and order your ticket,” said Meitzner. “But it isn’t going to happen quite that fast.”

Meitzner did say say this is nearly a home run for Wichita with Amtrak top leadership support. Jerry Moran agreed.

“The investment extending the Heartland Flyer would be invaluable to Kansans,” said Moran. “As I say, but also invaluable to the Southwest Chief with its stop in Newton and what a difference that will make.”