It has been over a year ago when the Quincy Herald Whig, in their Five on Five feature, asked the question Is Amtrak Passenger Rail Service Between Hannibal and Quincy a Good Idea?” The consensus over a year ago was that it is a good idea. I agreed then and I still agree now. Last year a group in Hannibal was looking into the feasibility of developing passenger rail service from Hannibal to Quincy and beyond. It is the “beyond” that made the idea intriguing.

The thought is the “tourism train” would travel from Chicago to America’s Hometown simply by opening up another 30 miles of track. So where is the negative from all this, aside from the cost factor of upgrading the track and other expenses involved? So what has happened to this group of interested parties in Hannibal trying to make this happen?

The Chicago to Hannibal route is great, but in my estimation it is a short sighted plan. If you want to expand to Hannibal then expand from more than one direction. I have been wanting Amtrak to look at other possibilities for years. Those possibilities would allow travelers from the west to stop in Hannibal and Quincy as well. How do you do that?

Well, Amtrak has a train they call the Southwest Chief. It runs from Los Angeles to Chicago daily. It stops in Kansas City, LaPlata, Missouri (south of Kirksville), and Ft. Madison, Iowa as well. In my opinion, the Hannibal feasibility group, if it still exists, should be looking into bringing that train from LaPlata to Hannibal and then on to Quincy, Keokuk and Ft. Madison. The passenger potential would be enhanced with those additional stops in Hannibal, Quincy and Keokuk.

This would give people in this area a route to the west as well. Something we currently don’t have either by train, plane or bus. I presented this plan to then Quincy Mayor John Spring a few years ago but it came at a time when the city was trying to secure a second train to Chicago which it eventually did with the Carl Sandburg train.

Yes it might be “easier” to secure an addition to the routes of the Illinois Zephyr or the Carl Sandburg trains to extend the tracks to Hannibal but it does not open up a route to the west. Horace Greeley said it…”Go West young man.” For those already in the West, I’ll say it ”Go East young man to Hannibal, Quincy and Keokuk.” So, lets do it! Where do we start?