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January 22, 2014

All aboard Eastern Flyer

NORMAN — The Amtrak Heartland Flyer’s daily run from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth has developed a decent number of riders, but it will never be much more than a tourist train unless travelers can connect to other lines.

An attempt to do that may be throttled even before it gets going. A private company will host three test runs of passenger rail between Oklahoma City and Tulsa in February. Some reports say the seats have already sold out. It would represent the first passenger service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa since 1967.

But in the meantime, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will open bids on selling the rail line that will carry the Eastern Flyer. Some Tulsa-area lawmakers are trying to stop such a sale.

A better option would be for the state to lease the rail line to a private concern to operate the line. That would be far more beneficial to travelers and give the state, Amtrak and private concerns some good numbers on whether riders would jump off the turnpike and onboard the train.

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