Mules (train)

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Kansas City Mule
St. Louis Mule
Service type Inter-city rail
Status Discontinued
Locale Missouri
First service October 26, 1980
Last service January 27, 2009
Successor Missouri River Runner
Former operator(s) Amtrak
Start Kansas City, Missouri
Stops 8
End St. Louis, Missouri
Distance travelled 283 mi (455.44 km)
Average journey time 5 hours 50 minutes
Service frequency Daily
Train number(s)
  • 311 (Kansas City Mule)
  • 316 (St. Louis Mule)
On-board services
  • Business class
  • Reserved coach
Catering facilities On-board cafe
Rolling stock Amfleet and Horizon coaches
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Track owner(s) UP

The Kansas City Mule and St. Louis Mule were a pair of 283-mile (455 km) passenger trains operated by Amtrak running between St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri as part of the Missouri Service train network. Also operating over this route was the Ann Rutledge, which originated in Chicago. In January 2009, Amtrak consolidated these trains under the name Missouri River Runner.[1]


Amtrak introduced the two trains on October 26, 1980, in partnership with the state of Missouri, which provided a yearly subsidy of $484,000. The Mules supplemented the Ann Rutledge, which provided a daily round-trip between Kansas City and Chicago via St. Louis. Contemporary news accounts referred to the combined service as the "Missouri Mule", although Amtrak timetables used the individual names. Eastbound the train was known as the St. Louis Mule; westbound the Kansas City Mule.[2][3]

The Mule's original schedule included intermediate stops at Kirkwood, Jefferson City, Sedalia and Warrensburg. Amtrak added Lee's Summit and Washington as flag stops in April 1981 on a one-year trial basis; Lee's Summit was retained in 1982 while Washington was dropped late 1981 in favor of Independence.[4][5] Amtrak reinstated Washington on the October 29, 1995 timetable for another one-year trial period; this time Amtrak retained the stop.[6] Hermann became a permanent stop on September 28, 1991. Trains had previously stopped only during Hermann's annual Maifest and Octoberfest.[7][8]

Between April 29, 1984 and November 4, 1993 the Mules operated with the River Cities, a St. Louis section of the City of New Orleans. Additional cars were added between St. Louis and Carbondale, Illinois, which it connected with the New Orleans-bound train. A funding crisis caused Amtrak to discontinue the Mules between April 1 and July 1, 1995.[9]:238

Because the tracks are owned by Union Pacific (UP), freight trains have priority over passenger trains. This often resulted in severe delays for Amtrak, such as those seen in May 2007, when the Missouri Department of Transportation blamed UP for the disruptions.[10]


  1. ^ Amtrak (28 Jan 2009). "AND THE WINNER IS … MISSOURI RIVER RUNNER" (PDF). Retrieved 7 Jul 2012. 
  2. ^ "'Missouri Mule' state's new train". Southeast Missourian. 26 Oct 1980. Retrieved 10 Apr 2010. 
  3. ^ Amtrak (1 Feb 1981). "National Train Timetables". Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 38. Retrieved 10 Apr 2010. 
  4. ^ "Amtrak to alter services". Nevada Daily Mail. 25 Feb 1981. Retrieved 10 Apr 2010. 
  5. ^ Amtrak (25 Oct 1981). "Amtrak National Train Timetables". Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 38. Retrieved 10 Apr 2010. 
  6. ^ Amtrak (29 Oct 1995). "Amtrak National Timetable". Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 26. Retrieved 10 Apr 2010. 
  7. ^ "At last, Hermann will get the trains to stop; Amtrak will begin the service Sept. 28. Arrivals will come from Kansas City, St. Louis". Kansas City Star. 9 Sep 1991. Retrieved 10 Apr 2010. 
  8. ^ Eardley, Linda (23 Oct 1991). "SRO plagues Hermann; train seat shortage is a flaw that's been lurking on the railroad". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 3A. 
  9. ^ Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34705-X. 
  10. ^ [broken link]

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