Railroad Merger on Track to Deliver Major Changes to Excelsior Springs

A Canadian Pacific locomotive passes through Excelsior Springs, MO (photo by Kevin Morgan).

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Kansas City Southern (KCS) have filed an application allowing authorization for CP to acquire KCS forming Canadian Pacific Kanas City Railway (CPKC). It appears the merger will be successful, which will bring some major changes to Excelsior Springs. Currently, Excelsior Springs sits on the northern end of the KCS lines which limits the number of trains coming through town to approximately 8 per day. Once approved, the merger will create the first truly North American rail system connecting Canada, the U.S., and Mexico placing Excelsior Springs in the literal center of international railway traffic. Representatives from CP have been in communication with city officials including Mayor Sharon Powell, City Manager Molly McGovern, and Public Works Director Chad Birdsong. In their conversations, CP explained that the number of trains traveling through Excelsior Springs will increase to 22 or more trains per day. Not only will the number of trains increase, but the length of the trains may increase as well and we may frequently see trains anywhere from 75 to 100 cars long.

A map shows CP and KCS rail lines, red is CP, black is KCS

The increase in rail traffic through the city will cause major challenges for our citizens and city workers. The main concern shared by Molly McGovern is that since the railway essentially goes through the middle of town, longer and more frequent trains could potentially delay emergency services such as police, fire, and ambulance for some citizens. Additionally, grocery stores, pharmacies, and other major retailers are all located on the west side of the railway causing major inconveniences for citizens who reside on the east side. McGovern said that CPKC expressed that they will be willing to work with the city of Excelsior Springs to find solutions to some of these problems. “Cooperation is a major step forward,” said McGovern, “it’s not something that we’ve had in the past.”

The railroad crossing on Dunbar Ave. in Excelsior Springs, MO (photo by S. Jason Cole)

Solutions discussed with CPKC officials included creating an alert system for emergency vehicles, and citizens, at strategic intersections to direct traffic to alternate routes. McGovern said the intersections at Jesse James and Miller as well as Dunbar and Kimball are a priority for alert systems since Dunbar/Miller is a major thoroughfare for emergency vehicles traveling to and from the downtown. Additionally, McGovern said she sees this as an opportunity to address issues with railway overpasses in our community to make them more user-friendly for vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

A pedestrian culvert may be added to the railroad overpass on Kearney Rd. (photo by S. Jason Cole).

With crossings on Dunbar/Miller and Italian Way blocked by train traffic, the most logical routes for vehicles and pedestrians will be to travel to one of the railway overpasses at either Titus, Wornall, or Kearney Rd./10 Hwy. But, each of these locations already have challenges of their own. The overpasses on Titus and Wornall are both one-lane traffic, with Wornall being especially dangerous as the passage creates a blind corner near a major intersection. The overpass on Kearney Rd. is treacherous for pedestrians who are required to walk dangerously close to automobile traffic as they travel beneath the overpass. McGovern said she is hopeful that the city may be able to install a pedestrian culvert at Kearney road overpass, helping to keep foot traffic further from the roadway. She also pointed out that the overpass at Titus already has a pedestrian culvert, which has become overgrown with brush and the sidewalk inside is covered with silt from runoff. “Cleaning up the passage on Titus and punching through at Kearney Road as well as the signals at key intersections is the main goal at the moment,” said McGovern. Although the timeline for the merger is still unclear, city officials have already begun exploring options for state or federal funds to help pay for the necessary improvements.

The railroad overpass on Titus has a pedestrian culvert that needs some TLC (Photo by S. Jason Cole).

culvert images from http://civilenginphotos.blogspot.com/2011/06/73-pedestrian-tunnel.html and http://lgam.wikidot.com/box-culvert.

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7 thoughts on “Railroad Merger on Track to Deliver Major Changes to Excelsior Springs”

  1. How is this possible? A 100 car train would be nearly 13 miles long? Is it 75 to 100 cars? Still a long train.

    1. The average rail car is 50 feet (according to Google). There are 5280 feet in a mile. This means a train transporting 1000 cars (50,000 ft) would be roughly 9.5 miles long. If the train were traveling at 60 mph (a mile per minute) you’re looking at an approximately 10 minute wait time!

  2. I’m thinking that this article needs to be updated and corrected. Average length hovers around 1.5 miles. Better call it SnowPiercer.

    1. I think you’re right! I was just going off what I was told, and I’m no railroad expert. The source must have misspoken and meant 75-100 cars and not 750-1000. Thanks for calling this to our attention.

  3. Interesting. I love love love the pedestrian culvert ideas and hope they’re done in quality and adequate quantity.

  4. The train lines are already running too frequently since the pandemic started. I live in Lawson and the trains run all night long and no longer slow down. The horns are blown and the houses shake. I moved here two years ago and it is nothing like it was. House values are going to deteriorate. Foundations will be cracked with all the shaking. I am totally against this.

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