Newsletter: 1/19/24

Brightline West to Launch Field Work and Begin Hiring Workers

The Brightline West project is getting closer to groundbreaking on the high-speed line from Las Vegas to Southern California. After being awarded $3 billion from the Federal Railroad Administration in December, Brightline West has announced it’s launching field investigation work in Nevada. They are also beginning to recruit workers to construct the high-speed line, anticipating 11,000 hires to build the 218-mile high-speed line. If the project can begin construction soon, they hope to be finished in time for the 2028 Olympics, which are being hosted in Los Angeles.

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Brightline West Begins Worker Recruitment for High-Speed Rail Project

Brightline West Will Begin Hiring Workers and Launch Field Investigation Work

Brightline West Train In The Desert

High-Speed Railway in China Surpasses Major Milestone

China’s first private-public partnership (PPP) for a high-speed railway celebrated its second year of operation, and has surpassed 20 million passengers in the past two years. The Hangzhou-Shaoxing-Taizhou intercity railway runs for roughly 165 miles, which is comparable to the distance between Madison and Chicago. Trains operate at speeds of nearly 220 mph and an end-to-end trip takes about an hour. It’s time for the U.S. to commit to a similar level of service throughout the country.

Federal Update

Congress passed a Continuing Resolution yesterday, which extends the deadline for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill to March 1. Congress will now work on the final appropriations bill, which will determine how much funding passenger rail receives for the next year.

It’s important that rail advocates continue to contact their elected officials in Congress, and ask them to support the Senate’s version of the bill, which would set funding at $3.4 billion, as the minimum funding level for the Federal Railroad Administration in 2024.

Continuing Resolution Summary and Full Text

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Wisconsin Update

Working with All Aboard Wisconsin and WisARP, the High Speed Rail Alliance has arranged briefings from state officials on Wisconsin’s plans for new passenger trains. Confirmed speakers include a Senior Policy Advisor on transportation for Governor Evers, WisDOT’s Assistant Deputy Secretary, and Wisconsin’s Commissioner of Railroads. Room capacity at the Capitol limits in-person attendance to representatives of allied organizations, but you can attend via Zoom on Thursday, February 1, from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM.

We will share the registration link in our newsletter when it becomes available.

Additionally, the City of Madison has planned public meetings on station location for January 30 and February 6. As Wisconsin’s capital city prepares for potential new passenger-train service, a study has narrowed the options for stations and moved into a public phase. To gather input, the City will hold an in-person meeting on the evening of Tuesday, January 30, and a virtual meeting on the evening of Tuesday, February 6. You can find details and register for the virtual session here.

In December, Wisconsin received five Corridor ID grants to help plan work for new train service. The High Speed Rail Alliance works in support of these efforts and future possibilities. You can learn more about the Alliance’s vision for Wisconsin here, and for other parts of the country here.

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

What We Are Reading

California High Speed Rail CEO to Step Down (Fresno Bee)

Brian Kelly, who has led the California High-Speed Rail Authority as its CEO since early 2018, submitted his resignation letter on Thursday. “This project is on an uptick and it’s time for it to transition to the next generation of leader for its next phase…It’s the right time now to bring in somebody specifically with passenger rail operations experience at a high level, at a chief executive level.”

Dallas Sets Ambitions on Downtown High-Speed Rail Hub

Dallas transportation officials are considering an ambitious plan for up-and-coming railway projects in the region that envisions a city center where passengers can connect with existing railways across North Texas, like light rail and streetcars, and — someday — take a high-speed train to Fort Worth or Houston.

After Years of Delays, Amtrak Moves Toward Faster Trains in the Northeast (New York Times)

Amtrak has no date yet for when it can carry passengers, but a new train for the busy Washington to Boston route has finally passed a computer modeling test and is set for tryouts on the tracks. 

Amtrak Expansion in Ohio: What Comes Next, and How Soon Might we be Taking the Train to Columbus?

Ohio was a big winner last month when the Federal Railroad Administration announced the first 69 grant recipients in a new program that is designed to expand passenger rail service throughout the United States.

America’s Ambitious High-Speed Rail Plans are Putting Britain to Shame (The Telegraph)

While the UK’s high-speed rail dreams are in tatters, the US is banking on a series of exciting projects in several popular holiday states.

The Latest from HSRA

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

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