The Santa Train is back.


After a one-year absence from Eastern Jackson County, the Kansas City Southern’s Annual Holiday Express will make stops in Blue Springs and Grain Valley just before Christmas.


The railroad runs the express every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas and has to alter the route from year to year to get to all of the areas where it operates, from Kansas City east to Illinois and south to Texas and Louisiana. Last year, points east of Kansas City got left out.

The Santa Train is back.


After a one-year absence from Eastern Jackson County, the Kansas City Southern’s Annual Holiday Express will make stops in Blue Springs and Grain Valley just before Christmas.


The railroad runs the express every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas and has to alter the route from year to year to get to all of the areas where it operates, from Kansas City east to Illinois and south to Texas and Louisiana. Last year, points east of Kansas City got left out.


Area residents will have several chances over about a week to see the train. The train starts its tour in Texas the day after Thanksgiving and works its way north, including a Dec. 9 stop in Joplin.


Locally, it will stop at:




Dec. 16-18 at Union Station in Kansas City.

Dec. 19 in Grain Valley, west of Main Street.

Dec. 21 in Blue Springs, on Main Street.

The express has all the trimmings: a smiling tank car named “Rudy,” a flatcar with Santa’s sleigh and reindeer, a gingerbread boxcar, the elves’ workshop, the reindeer stable and a red caboose. 


The train, popular with families, has its roots in this area. The railroad says the express was built on the tradition of the old Gateway Western, which operated the line running from East St. Louis, Ill., to Kansas City, passing through Grain Valley, Blue Springs and Independence. Kansas City Southern brought Gateway Western in 1997, and employees pitched in to revive the express around 2000.


The company says its employee realized that this all the Christmas some kids get and that many didn’t have coats or hats and gloves, so the express is used to address that need. At each of the 25 stops, the KCS Charitable Fund donates gift cards to the local Salvation Army to provide warm clothing and other necessities for children. That comes from employees, vendors and other donors, and over the years the contributions have come to $953,984.