Kansas City Southern (KCS) (NYSE: KSU) announced today that its 15 th annual Holiday Express will distribute $159,500 in gift cards to The Salvation Army at stops along the Holiday Express route. The gift cards are designated for the purchase of warm clothing and other necessities for kids in need. The 2015 fundraising effort was in memory of Willis F. Kilpatrick, who passed away in June. Kilpatrick was among the founders of the KCS Holiday Express in 2001 and was its head elf through 2012, retiring in early 2013.

"The KCS Holiday Express is an important project for our company and a joyful way to give back to the communities through which we operate," said KCS CEO David L. Starling. "This year, we pay tribute to a special member of the Holiday Express family, so we are especially grateful to our employees, vendors and friends who made a contribution to honor his memory."

Special thanks to the major sponsors who helped make this year's charitable contribution possible, including Bartlett Grain, David and Candace Starling Charitable Fund, Husch Blackwell LLP, The Kansas City Southern Charitable Fund, Michael and Marlys Haverty Family Foundation, Paragon Products, LLC, RJ Corman Railroad Company, Steel Dynamics, Inc., Trinity Industries, Inc. and Watco Companies. Additional sponsors are listed on the KCS website.

The train will stop in 20 communities in seven states on 24 dates. The complete schedule is available on the KCS website and the Holiday Express mobile app. Download the app by clicking here from your phone or search stores for KCS Holiday Express.

Led by KCS' Southern Belle business train, the Holiday Express train includes a smiling tank car "Rudy"; a flatcar carrying Santa's sleigh, reindeer and a miniature village; a gingerbread box car; an elves' workshop; the reindeer stable; and a little red caboose. Each car is dressed in lights. At each stop, visitors can board the train, visit with Santa and his elves and tour the inside of three cars of the festive six-car train. Each event is free and open to the public.

The 2015 KCS Holiday Express theme is Darby Bear. In recent years, one of the toys in the free gift bags for kids has been a small teddy bear in the colors of a KCS locomotive. This year's bear is called "Darby", a nickname given to Kilpatrick by his family. The bear is yellow, his favorite color.

The KCS Holiday Express was built on the tradition of the Santa Train, which ran on a rail line bought by KCS in 1997. In 2000, a group of warm-hearted KCS employees noticed that the Santa Train was the only Christmas some kids had, and that some kids did not even have essential items like coats, hats and gloves, so they committed to elevating the project. In 2001, volunteers transformed a retired freight train to the experience that communities enjoy today.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., KCS is a transportation holding company that has railroad investments in the U.S., Mexico and Panama. KCS' North American rail holdings and strategic alliances are primary components of a NAFTA Railway system, linking the commercial and industrial centers of the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

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