Newsletter: Integrated Rail Plans for Illinois and Wisconsin, US HSR Conference Impressions and More

Illinois House Passes Resolution for an Integrated Rail Plan

On May 18, the Illinois House passed a resolution urging the Illinois Department of Transportation and the High Speed Railroad Commission to move forward in preparing a Statewide Integrated Network Plan. This plan would include the identification of desired service points and key transfer stations, a draft rail and bus schedule, a ridership and revenue model for the desired network, an estimation of needed infrastructure investments, and the development of a phased implementation plan.

The resolution was introduced by Representative Martin J. Moylan, and received support from a large contingent of IL Representatives, including chief co-sponsor, Representative Matt Hanson. It recognizes the important role passenger rail plays in Illinois, the existing efforts to improve our rail network, and the widespread benefits an integrated rail plan would bring to communities throughout the state.

The Alliance is encouraged by the passage of this resolution and we are committed to working with IDOT, the Illinois High Speed Railroad Commission, and local leaders to advance this Integrated Network Plan, and improve passenger rail service in Illinois.

Read the full resolution text and list of sponsors here.

Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) released a draft of their Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050. The proposal includes plans to expand passenger rail throughout the state—including two of the state’s three largest cities (Green Bay and Madison), which currently have no train service at all. Local leaders in Wisconsin have been at the forefront of the effort to bring trains to their communities, applying for federal funding from the Corridor Identification and Development Program earlier this year.

If you care about better train service in Wisconsin, you can provide comments on the Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 through June 10, 2023.

Read More

WisDOT Releases Plans to Extend Hiawatha Rail Line to Green Bay, Connections Between Milwaukee and Madison

Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050

HSRA’s Vision for Wisconsin

Trains Across America: The Columbus Way

Columbus, Indiana, is routinely discovered and celebrated by national media. And it’s a place that should be connected by trains.

A city of 50,000 people about 30 miles south of Indianapolis, it ranks alongside cities like Chicago and San Francisco for its world-class architecture. Seven of its buildings are designated as National Historic Landmarks. “The sheer quantity of monuments designed by some of the greatest 20th-century architects is astonishing,” The Architect’s Newspaper noted in March 2023. “More remarkable is that they’re almost all public and institutional buildings.” A 2017 coming-of-age movie titled Columbus—which featured several of the city’s iconic buildings, and brought Columbus to the attention of a global movie audience—has been a big driver of recent media interest…

The city isn’t currently served by passenger trains—but fast, frequent, and affordable service would be transformative for the city’s economy and quality of life in three key ways.

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An overhead picture of First Christian Church.

U.S. High Speed Rail Conference Impressions

Three things stood out at the US High Speed Rail Association’s conference in Washington, D.C. this week, where I took part in a panel on building integrated rail networks. (picture on the right)

First, two Biden Administration officials emphasized that the president is committed to bringing true high-speed rail to the U.S.

Second, Brightline made a strong case that it can deliver true high-speed rail service (with trains running at 186+ mph) between Las Vegas and suburban Los Angeles in time for the 2028 L.A. Olympics. If so, the line will be game-changing on many levels.  People will be able to easily attend events in both cities on the same day.

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Train Day Pictures and Stories

As you know, trains have incredible power to connect people from every region and corner of this great continent. High Speed Rail Alliance community members are helping to tell that story by sharing their experiences.

Check out our growing collection of stories and pictures about the joy of trains!

We plan to continue collecting stories and photos from our community, and will share them here. Contact us if you would like to add your personal experience to this page.

A group of people taking a selfie on a train platform.
Two people are toasting across the aisle in a Brightline train.

Train Day Webinar Video

National Train Day marks both the day in 1869 when railroads first connected America from coast-to-coast and Amtrak’s birthday in 1971.

To celebrate we hosted a special Train Day webinar. We explore some of the history of high-speed rail around the world and discuss the Alliance’s three main goals for advancing high-speed rail in the United States.

The Alliance’s main goals:

1. Establish a federal railroad program with dedicated annual funding.

2. Get at least one high-speed line running at 180+ mph in the United States this decade.

3. Secure significant investments for the Chicago rail hub, which is critical to running fast, frequent service throughout the country.

Watch the Video

6/9 Webinar: Michigan’s Passenger Rail Progress

Michigan has made substantial investments in passenger-rail service, for increased operational efficiency and time savings on the five current, round-trip services that Amtrak operates in the state. Continuing to make improvements to these routes remains a priority for Michigan, as well as exploring the potential for increased or expanded service. This includes improvements to rail infrastructure South of Lake, which will allow for better passenger-rail operations and reliability. Michigan plans to continue partnering with other Midwest states and Amtrak to identify projects and improvements that will lead to better passenger-train service.

Speaker: Peter Anastor, Director of the Office of Rail, Michigan Department of Transportation

Register Here