The Midwest High Speed Rail Association was founded on February 22, 1993. That’s right, it’s our 25th anniversary!
In those 25 years, we’ve grown from three founding members to tens of thousands of supporters around the Midwest. We are now the nation’s largest high-speed rail advocacy organization, and we’ve brought together lawmakers, businesses and advocates to sustain and improve passenger rail around our region.
It’s not always easy to quantify our progress, but one thing is sure: If it were not for our efforts and the support of our members, there would be fewer trains operating today around the Midwest, and we’d be much further away from planning and building our first high-speed line.
One way to evaluate our accomplishments is through the legislative appropriations we’ve won for passenger rail. The sum is more than one billion dollars! We successfully fought for increases in Amtrak operating funds in Illinois in 2006, 2013 and 2015. We’ve pushed for investments in infrastructure, including Illinois’ 2009 bill that began the upgrade of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor to 110 mph. We’ve also been a part of bringing new equipment to our existing Midwest trains, including the new Siemens Charger locomotives and the upcoming new single-level coaches.
We owe much of the credit for our success to you: our members. When we ask you to contact your elected officials, you do, and it truly makes a difference. In 2007, you sent more than 100,000 messages to Illinois legislators in protest of proposed cuts to transit. Not only were the cuts reversed, funding was increased. In 2012, we gathered 750 comments to submit to the Michigan Dept. of Transportation about including true, 220 mph high-speed rail in its plans. That’s a remarkable number of comments for a public planning process!
While fighting to preserve and enhance the trains we have now, we’ve also pushed the conversation toward high-speed rail by commissioning studies that prove its feasibility and benefits. Our 2011 study of a Midwest high-speed network, with 220 mph hourly trains radiating out from Chicago, would serve 43 million people and generate $2.2 billion in revenue every year. Over 30 years, the system would generate $300 billion in new economic activity.
We have big goals for our 25th anniversary year. We’re spearheading a $1 million study to make the business case for building the initial segment of a Midwest high-speed network. We’ll be fighting in Washington to ensure the federal budget—and the national positive train control mandate—results in more trains, not less. And we’ll continue working with state governments and local officials to bring fast, frequent and reliable trains to communities around the region.
Thanks for 25 years of your support, and here’s to the next 25!
Get the celebration started and keep us moving in 2018 by donating $25 or more today!