I was reading Saturday's Quincy Herald Whig and came across the Five on Five feature they print each week. One of the questions was "Is Passenger Rail Service Between Hannibal and Quincy a Good Idea?" The consensus was that it is a good idea. And I agree. A group in Hannibal has been looking into the feasibility if developing passenger rail service from Hannibal to Quincy and beyond. It is the "beyond" that makes this idea intriguing. The thought is the "tourism train" would open up from Chicago to America's home town simply by opening up another 30 miles of track. And indeed it would. So where is the negative from all this, aside from the cost factor of upgrading the track and other expenses involved? In my estimation it is a short sighted plan. If you want to expand to Hannibal than expand from more than one direction. I have been wanting Amtrak to look at other possibilities. Possibilities that would open 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 feasibility group should be looking into bringing that train from LaPlata to Hannibal and then on to Quincy and to Keokuk and then Ft. Madison. The passenger potential would be enhanced with 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 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 Sandberg train. Yes it might be "easier" to secure an addition to the routes of the Illinois Zepher or the Carl Sandberg trains to extend the tracks to Hannibal but it doesn't 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?