The challenge of stretching Amtrak passenger service from Oklahoma City to the central Kansas community of Newton boils down to scoring federal investment for construction of railroad infrastructure capable of sustaining high-speed traffic, officials said Wednesday.

Ray Lane, a government affairs executive with Amtrak, told a group of Oklahoma and Kansas passenger rail supporters at the Capitol in Topeka that expanding the Heartland Flyer's reach would exceed financial resources available in either state. The track that would be used to accommodate expansion of passenger service in Kansas and Oklahoma is owned by BNSF Railway, he said.

"To put the faster moving passenger train on the railroad, we really need to built capacity on their infrastructure," he said. "We can peacefully coexist and navigate through the high-density freight corridor that exists between Oklahoma City and Newton. That's expensive."

BNSF has been working on an analysis of how much it could cost to add passenger trains to BNSF track in Oklahoma and Kansas. The study is expected to be submitted to the Kansas Department of Transportation by February.

The report was to have been finished in October, said Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican from Sedgwick who helped organize the meeting of passenger rail advocates.

"The number is going to be big," said Lane, of Amtrak. "I don't know what your budget is like. I'm not an expert on it, but I have a feeling the number is probably going to be bigger than you could absorb. We're going to present a federal solution."

He said Amtrak would seek congressional appropriation of billions of dollars to cover upfront capital costs of enhancing passenger rail service throughout the nation.

The Heartland Flyer runs daily passenger service from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City. The 206-mile route is funded jointly by the states of Oklahoma and Texas. If the Heartland Flyer were extended to Newton, it would intersect the Southwest Chief route from Chicago to Los Angeles, including a section from Garden City to Lawrence.