Heartland Flyer Celebrates Decade of Service

Saturday, June 13th 2009, 11:05 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A popular form of transportation in Oklahoma celebrated a decade of service. The Heartland Flyer's 10 year anniversary was Saturday.

The train has become a favorite way for Oklahomans to cross the Red River.

State officials and train enthusiasts gathered at the Santa Fe Depot to celebrate the Heartland Flyers 10 years of service. The train started chugging to Texas in 1999 after Oklahoma went for 20 years without a passenger train.

"Senator Don Nickles secured 23 million dollars 10 years ago to reinstate rail passenger service in the state of Oklahoma," said Dean Schirf with the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

Since that time the Heartland Flyer has become one of Amtrak's most popular among riders.

"It's one of the best and most favorite. It's the most on time train. We are very proud of it here in Oklahoma City," said Schirf.

It's a joint effort between the state of Texas and Oklahoma. From Oklahoma City it makes six stops and four and a half hours later the Heartland Flyer comes to a halt in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Over 600 thousand people have done that in the last 10 years," Schirf said.

State Transportation officials expect those numbers to grow.

"If you listen to the administration, the direction the country is wanting to go to try and improve our ability to have other ways of transportation. I think both rail freight and passenger rail has a future of expansion," Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley said.

Some of the government stimulus money could go to expanding the Heartland Flyer north keeping an Oklahoma favorite around for years to come.

Learn more about the special 10 year anniversary fare Amtrak is offering through June 30. To get the discount rate you have to purchase your tickets by June 27.