Heartland Flyer

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Heartland Flyer
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Heartland Flyer at Ardmore station, April 2007.jpg
The southbound Heartland Flyer at Ardmore, Oklahoma in 2007
Type Inter-city rail
System Amtrak
Locale Oklahoma and Texas
Termini Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Fort Worth, Texas
Daily ridership213
Ridership66,105 total (FY16) [1]
OpenedJune 14, 1999
Owner BNSF Railway (track)
Operator(s) Amtrak
Rolling stock Superliner Coaches
Line length206 miles (332 km)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Route map


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proposed extension
to Newton, KS
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403 mi
649 km
Newton BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg  
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377 mi
607 km
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326 mi
525 km
Arkansas City
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BSicon exHSTACC.svg
301 mi
484 km
Ponca City
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268 mi
431 km
BSicon exHSTACC.svg
236 mi
380 km
BSicon exHSTACC.svg
218 mi
351 km
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206 mi
332 km
Oklahoma City
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BSicon HSTACC.svg
186 mi
299 km
BSicon HSTACC.svg
171 mi
275 km
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149 mi
240 km
Pauls Valley
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104 mi
167 km
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77 mi
124 km
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BSicon HSTACC.svg
65 mi
105 km
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0 mi
0 km
Fort Worth BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg TRE logo.png Trinity Metro TEX only.svg

The Heartland Flyer is a daily passenger train that follows a 206-mile (332 km) route from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Fort Worth, Texas. It is operated by Amtrak and jointly funded by the states of Oklahoma and Texas. [2] The train's daily round-trip begins in Oklahoma City in the morning and reaches Fort Worth in the early afternoon. It leaves Fort Worth during the afternoon rush for an evening return to Oklahoma City. As of November 2014, the train is scheduled at 3 hours 58 minutes in each direction. [3]

Fort Worth, Texas City in Texas, United States

Fort Worth is the 15th-largest city in the United States and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. It is the county seat of Tarrant County, covering nearly 350 square miles (910 km2) into four other counties: Denton, Johnson, Parker and Wise. According to the 2017 census estimates, Fort Worth's population is 874,168. The city is the second-largest in the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metropolitan area, which is the 4th most populous metropolitan area in the United States.

Amtrak Intercity rail operator in the United States

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak, is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States and to nine Canadian cities.

Oklahoma State of the United States of America

Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.

The Heartland Flyer carried over 77,000 passengers in fiscal year 2016, a 4.2% decrease from FY2015. The train had a ticket revenue of $1,828,486, an increase of 1.8% from FY2015. [1] Total revenue for the train, including state-level subsidies to Amtrak, was approximately $7.1 million [4]

Fiscal year 1 year term for government and business financial reporting

A fiscal year is the period used by governments for accounting and budget purposes, which varies between countries. It is also used for financial reporting by business and other organizations. Laws in many jurisdictions require company financial reports to be prepared and published on an annual basis, but generally do not require the reporting period to align with the calendar year. Taxation laws generally require accounting records to be maintained and taxes calculated on an annual basis, which usually corresponds to the fiscal year used for government purposes. The calculation of tax on an annual basis is especially relevant for direct taxation, such as income tax. Many annual government fees—such as Council rates, licence fees, etc.—are also levied on a fiscal year basis, while others are charged on an anniversary basis.

History and funding

Route of the Heartland Flyer (interactive map) Amtrak Heartland Flyer.png
Route of the Heartland Flyer (interactive map)

After Amtrak's formation in 1971, the corridor was served by the railroad's Chicago-Houston Lone Star route, but that was discontinued in 1979 and left the state of Oklahoma without any passenger rail service. The Heartland Flyer was inaugurated on June 14, 1999, ending a 20-year absence of passenger trains on the route. First-year ticket sales totaled 71,400 passengers, surpassing Amtrak's original 20,000 projection. [5] The Heartland Flyer carried 68,000 passengers during FY 2007. In September 2007 it had carried 500,000 passengers since its inception, [6] and in November 2013, it carried its millionth passenger. [7]

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Houston City in Texas, United States

Houston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States, with a census-estimated population of 2.312 million in 2017. It is the most populous city in the Southern United States and on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Located in Southeast Texas near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the seat of Harris County and the principal city of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, which is the fifth most populous metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States and the second most populous in Texas after the Dallas-Fort Worth MSA. With a total area of 627 square miles (1,620 km2), Houston is the eighth most expansive city in the United States. It is the largest city in the United States by total area, whose government is similarly not consolidated with that of a county or borough. Though primarily in Harris County, small portions of the city extend into Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

The temporary federal funding for the service was used up by 2005. However, regional passenger rail advocates came out in force on April 11, 2005, for a state capitol rally sponsored by PassengerRailOk.org. Keynote speaker, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett addressed the crowd along with the mayors of Perry, Guthrie, and Purcell, Oklahoma, encouraging the state fund the service and to expand the train into Kansas. [8] State lawmakers kept the Heartland Flyer in operation by passing House Bill 1078 that provided an annual $2 million subsidy to continue the service. [9]

Mick Cornett Mayor of Oklahoma City

Michael Earl Cornett Sr. is an American politician and former television personality who served as the 35th mayor of Oklahoma City, from 2004 until 2018. A member of the Republican Party, he was only the fourth mayor in Oklahoma City history to be elected to three terms and the first to be elected to four terms. He also served as President of the United States Conference of Mayors and as national President of the Republican Mayors and Local Officials (RMLO). He also served as Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Urban Economic Affairs Committee until 2007. In 2018, he was defeated in the Republican runoff by Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt for GOP nomination for Governor of Oklahoma. In 2006, Cornett was defeated by Mary Fallin for the Republican runoff for U.S. Congress.

Equipment used

Locomotives commonly used on the Heartland Flyer include the General Electric P42DC and P32-8WH. Rolling stock includes Superliners . For many years, the train was powered by only one locomotive, and a Non-Powered Control Unit (NPCU) on the end of the train opposite the locomotive made the train bi-directional. In 2009, the NPCU was replaced with a standard Genesis P42DC, and the train now has locomotive power on both ends.

General Electric American multinational conglomerate corporation

General Electric Company (GE) is an American multinational conglomerate incorporated in New York and headquartered in Boston. As of 2018, the company operates through the following segments: aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital industry, additive manufacturing, venture capital and finance, lighting, and oil and gas.

GE Dash 8-32BWH modern passenger train locomotive used by Amtrak

The GE Dash 8-32BWH, also known as the P32-8BWH, B32-8WH, or P32 DASH-8, is a road switcher passenger train locomotive used by Amtrak, based on GE's Dash 8 series of freight train locomotives. Built in 1991, they were the first locomotives purchased to replace the EMD F40PH.

Superliner (railcar) Class of American double-deck long distance passenger cars

The Superliner is a type of bilevel intercity railroad passenger car used by Amtrak, the national rail passenger carrier in the United States. Amtrak ordered the cars to replace older single-level cars on its long-distance trains in the Western United States. The design was based on the Budd Hi-Level vehicles, employed by the Santa Fe Railway on its El Capitan trains. Pullman-Standard built 284 cars, known as Superliner I, in 1975–1981; Bombardier Transportation built 195, known as Superliner II, in 1991–1996. The Superliner I cars were the last passenger cars built by Pullman.

From April 2010 to April 2011, Amtrak and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation carried out a one-year research project during which the train was run on a biodiesel blend known as B20 (20% pure biofuel and 80% diesel). P32-8 locomotive No. 500 carried an Amtrak decal indicating the use of B20 fuel. [10] The test made national news when TIME magazine listed it as one of "The 50 Best Inventions of 2010." [11]


The train (numbered 821, 822) connects to Amtrak's national passenger rail network at Fort Worth Central Station, where it is timed to allow transfers to the Texas Eagle in both directions. The Texas Eagle runs daily between Chicago, Illinois and San Antonio, Texas, and continues three days each week to Los Angeles, California. The Trinity Railway Express commuter rail service also runs from Fort Worth to nearby Dallas Monday through Saturday each week, with roughly hourly service on weekdays and service every two hours on Saturday. Among its several stops, TRE indirectly connects to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at CentrePort station, and links to DART Light Rail at Victory station and Union Station (which is also a Texas Eagle stop).

The Fort Worth station also has connections to many local buses operated by Trinity Metro and intercity buses operated by Greyhound Lines.

Expansion proposals

Several proposals for extending the route of the Heartland Flyer, or providing additional service over all or parts of its route, have been made over the years. Expansion planning revolves around portions of the former Lone Star route and the state-owned route from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The line to Kansas City would stop at Wichita's Union Station and follow the route of the Southwest Chief north of Newton, Kansas. Recent interest in Kansas and Oklahoma communities has been sparked by the proposal and many towns have released resolutions supporting the idea and requesting stations should the route ever be extended. Some of these cities include Wichita, which lost its train service with the discontinuance of the Amtrak Lone Star in 1979. Emporia was eliminated as an Amtrak stop in 2000 but may once again have a train station. Nearly a dozen other communities ranging in size from the tiny community of Strong City, Kansas (pop. 570), to Wichita, with nearly 358,000 residents have passed these resolutions.

A study conducted by Amtrak in 2009 resulted in four proposed service extensions: [12]

According to the August 2010 issue of Trains Magazine, a combination of options one and two as noted above is not out of the question, either, allowing for day and night service, plus perhaps thru-car service to/from the Southwest Chief . [12]

In late 2011, the Kansas Department of Transportation released the results of a study into new service south to Fort Worth, presenting the options of a night train from Texas to Newton, with start-up costs of $87.5 million and an annual subsidy of $4.4 million, or a day train to Kansas City, with start-up costs of $245.5 million and an annual subsidy of $10 million. [13]

During the 1990s, service to San Antonio, Texas, via Austin in conjunction with a reroute of the Texas Eagle west from Fort Worth to El Paso, Texas via Sierra Blanca was considered. This would have created another connection with the Sunset Limited . [14]

Part of the route used by the Heartland Flyer is designated by the USDOT as the South Central High Speed Rail Corridor and is slated to be upgraded to high-speed rail service should funding ever become available. The corridor extends from San Antonio, Texas, to Tulsa through Fort Worth and Oklahoma City. Another branch of this corridor extends from Fort Worth through Dallas to Little Rock, Arkansas. [15]

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 "Amtrak FY16 Ridership and Revenue Fact Sheet" (PDF). Amtrak. April 17, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  2. "Information Release 07-016" (PDF) (Press release). Oklahoma Department of Transportation. March 21, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 26, 2007. Retrieved August 12, 2007.
  3. "Texas Eagle and Heartland Flyer timetable" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2, 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  4. "Monthly Performance Report for September 2016" (PDF). Amtrak. November 12, 2014. p. 41. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
  5. Cooper, Aaron (June 14, 2000). "Amtrak, ODOT celebrate 1-year anniversary of Heartland Flyer". Associated Press . Retrieved April 28, 2008.
  6. "Ridership up on Heartland Flyer". Associated Press . November 9, 2007. Retrieved April 28, 2008.
  7. "Amtrak recognizes OSU student as millionth passenger on Heartland Flyer". The Oklahoman . November 15, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  8. Talley, Tim (April 11, 2005). "Rail passengers rally for Heartland Flyer". Associated Press .
  9. Price, Marie (May 25, 2005). "Beefed-up state agency budgets sent to governor". Tulsa World . p. A10.
  10. "Heartland Flyer". Amtrak History & Archives. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  11. "Amtrak's Beef-Powered Train". TIME Magazine . November 11, 2010. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  12. 1 2 Bob Johnston (August 2010). "Kansas weighs new train choices". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing.
  13. "Kansas DOT releases passenger-rail service development plan". Progressive Railroading. December 5, 2011. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  14. "Fort Worth-Los Angeles Proposed Schedule Change Updated October 27, 1999". Texas Association of Rail Passengers. October 27, 1999. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007.
  15. "South Central Corridor". USDOT. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2012.

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