Newsletter: 01/12/24

Ask Congress to Fully Fund the Federal Railroad Administration in FY24

On January 7, 2024, President Biden and congressional leaders reached an agreement on top line funding levels for Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations. The next step is for Congress to write the final appropriations bill, which has to be done quickly to avoid a government shutdown. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill expires January 19, 2024.

Please tell Congress to fully fund the Federal Railroad Administration in 2024.

The Senate and House appropriations bills stand in stark contrast. The Senate THUD Appropriations bill stays consistent with last year’s $3.4 billion in funding for the Federal Railroad Administration. The House Appropriations Committee’s budget included just $1.4 billion. This funding would be spread across Amtrak, high-speed rail, freight projects, and safety. 

It is urgent that you ask your representatives and senators to support the Senate’s $3.4 billion as the minimum funding level for the FRA in 2024. 

Take Action

A map of the proposed Front Range Corridor in Colorado.

Colorado’s Front Range Passenger Rail Points to a Model for Building a National Network of Great Trains

Marquee projects in big states attract most of the spotlight when it comes to trains. But when it announced the new Corridor ID program last year, the Federal Railroad Administration noted that “special emphasis will be paid to projects that benefit rural and underserved communities.”

That emphasis is important, because dozens of relatively low-profile projects will be critical to creating a truly national network of high-quality trains.

Consider one example: Colorado’s Front Range Passenger Rail (FRPR) corridor, which runs about 160 miles across 13 counties—from Fort Collins to Pueblo, with stops in Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs.

Survey on Chicago Union Station’s Concourse Improvements

Amtrak is working on a project to redesign Chicago Union Station’s Concourse, which was last renovated in 1990. Improving the Concourse Building is an important step towards improving travelers’ experience, and expanding capacity to run more trains through this critical rail hub. As a first step, they are asking travelers to fill out a survey to help guide this project.

Make sure you click the Take the Survey icon or copy and paste this link to find the survey: https://survey3.medallia.com/?8QzuBB-Concourse

Take the Survey

Chicago Union Station's busy great hall.

Your Support Helped Raise an Additional $40,000!

Thank you to everyone who donated during our fundraising campaign over the last six weeks of the year. Because of you, we raised more than $40,000 for Alliance work. This secured an additional $40,000 matching grant from the Chicago-based Elizabeth Louise Smith Fund.

Your support will power this movement for fast, modern trains as we support local leaders and advocate for further investment in good transportation for our communities. Thank you.

Beyond the Tracks: High-Speed Rail Station Access and Development. Friday, January 26, 2024 11:00a.m.-12:00p.m.

What We Are Reading

Why 2023 Emerged as a Banner Year for Passenger Rail

“There are lots of reasons for optimism among passenger rail advocates. The splashiest of those came in recent months, as the Biden administration finally unveiled its vision for passenger rail expansions paid for through the 2021 infrastructure law.”

2023 Was a Good Year for American High Speed Rail (Forbes)

“Given the current size of the Federal deficit, and the absence of a direct source of funding (highways, by contrast, are directly funded by the gas tax), high-speed rail boosters need to focus on improving construction efficiency. That means enacting several major reforms that will make the investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure law go further.”

The Best News of 2023 for Sustainable Transportation Advocates

“Our list of highlights… foreshadows an even brighter year ahead.”

Eight New Year’s Resolutions for Transportation Decisionmakers

“Build high speed rail already.”

From ‘Train to Nowhere’ to Fresno’s Dream: What High Speed Rail Means for the Central Valley

“High-speed rail’s success will likely shape the region’s future, helping diversify its economy, build more housing and revitalize cash-strapped cities. But despite a litany of unmistakable benefits for California, the project remains a political pariah – pleading for a breakthrough in a bad-faith debate over the remaining budget gap.” 

The $140BN Race to Build America’s First High-Speed Railway

“There’s a new company trying to bring high-speed rail to the US in just a few years time, and it might actually work. And if that wasn’t surprising enough, the whole project got its start in a place you might not expect — Orlando, Florida.”

High-Speed Rail Authority Releases Shortlist of Potential Suppliers for Electrified High-Speed Trains in California

On the heels of the nearly $3.1 billion historic federal investment for California’s high-speed rail project, which includes funding for new electric trains, the California High-Speed Rail Authority today released its shortlist of qualified bidders for its high-speed trainsets. 

The Biden Administration Invests in High-Speed Rail (The Dispatch)

“If there ever was a time we can make high-speed reality in the U.S. it’s now,” said Andy Byford, the head of Amtrak’s HSR program. “We have the support. We have the funding. We are looking to effect a rail revolution across the U.S.” 

Time to Get Real on the Bullet Train: California Is Building It, so Let’s Make It Work (LA Times)

“You don’t spend $11 billion on a project, as California already has, then abandon it.”

Opinion: What the Great Migration Can Teach Us About the Coming Mass Migration to Chicago (Crain’s Chicago Business)

The authors link to the Alliance’s CrossRail Chicago proposal when writing of the need for “more imagination, more ambitious thinking and extraordinary political will to begin reversing the harms created by the many decades — and tens of billions of dollars — spent on our dysfunctional paradigm.”

Lessenberry: Passenger Rail Is an Idea Whose Time Has Come — Again (Toledo Blade)

Bob Walsh, a respected Battle Creek attorney, is also pushing for more and better passenger rail service. “We need a main high-speed station at the Detroit metro airport, but there has to be a real depot downtown.”

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...