Newsletter: 12/01/23

Within weeks, we expect decisions from the U.S. Department of Transportation on where to invest billions in passenger-rail funding from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

You can learn on our site about three of the contenders: Brightline West, which would launch high-speed service between Las Vegas and Los Angeles in time for the 2028 Olympics; continuing work on California’s high-speed rail project; and the Chicago Hub Improvement Program (CHIP), a group of projects proposed by Amtrak to upgrade Chicago Union Station and set the stage for faster, more frequent and reliable Amtrak service for a multi-state region. 

Illinois Rep. Buckner Urges Metra and NICTD to Coordinate Better Service

Illinois Assistant Majority Leader Kam Buckner has laid out a vision for using publicly-owned electrified railroad tracks in two states as the core asset for modern passenger rail expansion. But first, the two agencies that own and operate commuter trains need to coordinate, not compete.

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A northbound South Train train is runnin gup the lakefront with the Sears Tower int eh background.

What’s the Future for Trains in the Pacific Northwest?

Upgrade Amtrak Cascades or build high-speed rail? The choice is clear. The authors of this op-ed in the Seattle Times argue for improving existing Amtrak service in the Pacific Northwest by 2030, instead of building an ultra-high-speed rail project by 2050. The Alliance believes we need both. What do you think? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Learn more about rail options for the Pacific Northwest.

You can also learn what the history of the Interstate Highway System suggests for the development of American high-speed rail.

High Speed Rail Alliance Staff Update

Alliance executive director Rick Harnish attended the latest Illinois High Speed Railway Commission meeting. All of the commissioner openings have been filled, and the next step is two focused workshops to establish what outcomes the commission will focus on.

The commission’s work will impact high-speed rail across the country. You can also read about how the first meeting went earlier this year.  

Bill Porter, a member of the Alliance’s Board, recently traveled to Italy and describes his high-speed experience between Rome and Venice in a blog.

He writes: “The ride was smooth, the service was excellent, frequency a given, and punctuality could be relied upon every trip. Seeing how seamlessly high-speed train travel had become part of the fabric of life in the communities it served, and seeing how it allowed people the opportunity to travel inexpensively, conveniently, in an environmentally sustainable manner was eye opening. That very normalcy made me re-commit to the High Speed Rail Alliance, and our work to bring high-speed rail service to the United States. It’s way past time to make it happen.” 

What We Are Reading

Serbia and North Macedonia Sign Memorandum for High-Speed Railway

The southeastern European nations aim for much faster train service between their capitals, Belgrade and Skopje.

Florida’s Incredible New High-speed Train Now Goes From Orlando to Miami—and I Was One of the First on Board.

The magazine Travel + Leisure reviews Brightline’s service in Florida, and takes you through the author’s first journey between Orlando and Miami.

I Rode on the Only Two High-Speed Trains in the US, Brightline and Amtrak’s Acela. Here’s How they Compare. 

While neither service meets the international standard for high-speed rail, these are two of the fastest trains in the country. The author takes you through their experience riding both. 

Austin Mayor Chases High-Speed Rail in D.C.

Austin Mayor Kirk Watson went to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to advocate for federal investment into Texas’ transportation infrastructure. Mayor Watson argued that Texas is a primary candidate for new high-speed rail service due to population growth and the proximity of their major cities. 

State of Intercity Passenger Rail Discussed at Rail Subcommittee Hearing

Four witnesses on Nov. 29 discussed the state of intercity passenger rail at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

Why Doesn’t the US Have More Passenger Trains?

Today, the United States’ passenger rail system is an echo of its former self, with swathes of the network unused or surrendered to freight. That may be starting to change.

California High Speed Rail Authority Construction Update

See how the nation’s first high-speed rail project is developing.

Amtrak to Add Two Round Trips Between Seattle and Portland

Both Seattle and Portland will tack on two additional departures to their schedules — one from each city in the morning and one from each in the evening.

Illinois Boosts Amtrak in Soaring Year for Rail Travel (Crain’s Chicago)

Amtrak ridership soared this year thanks in no small part to an increase in passenger traffic at Chicago’s Union Station.

The Latest from HSRA

Our Latest Blog Posts

Check out the latest news, updates, and high speed rail insights from our blog!

New Plans for Virginia’s Passenger Rail Expansion

New Plans for Virginia’s Passenger Rail Expansion

The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) has begun preliminary discussions with Northeast freight operator Norfolk Southern Railways (NS) about alternative ways to expand Virginia’s passenger rail service. Earlier this year, plans were drafted to extend the N-Line...