Newsletter: 1/29/24

Building from the Middle, a Plan for Better Trains In Illinois, the Midwest, and Beyond

A well-funded federal railway program is essential for high-speed and regional rail to be successful. With roughly one-third of the nation’s population, the Midwest is critical to gaining that federal program—and fixing Chicago is essential to making the Midwest work.

This means that Illinois has an outsized role to play in making high-speed and regional rail a reality, nationwide.

Over the next year, Illinois lawmakers will be working on legislation to protect and grow Metra service. We believe that they should think beyond just fixing Metra and create a statewide railway program that would connect the entire state and lay the foundation for a multi-state network.

We recently published a new booklet to outline our vision for this important project, called “Put Illinois on the Fast Track.”

Please check out our new “Put Illinois on the Fast Track” publication here.

A map of existing and potential passenger rail routes in Illinois.

Three Amtrak Board Nominees Confirmed by Senate

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Christopher Koos, Anthony Coscia, and Joel Szbat to Amtrak’s Board of Directors. 

These appointments had been put on hold last year due to a lack of regional diversity among the nominees. Just one of the nominees—Chris Koos, the mayor of Normal, Illinois—lives outside the Northeast Corridor. A recent reform requires two designated representatives from each Amtrak business line—the NEC, State-Supported, and Long-Distance Routes. This reform was meant to reinforce Amtrak’s commitment to long-distance routes and rural communities. 

One of the senator’s who spoke out against the lack of geographical diversity among the nominees, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), has since announced his support for the nominees, with the understanding that the White House will nominate individuals from outside of the NEC to fill the rest of the open seats. 

At the Alliance we are encouraged that these important Amtrak positions are being filled, and that the next slate of nominees will represent more of the country. It’s important that Amtrak’s Board represents the entire country and understands the vital role trains play in communities large and small. 

Wisconsin Update

You can tune in via Zoom to briefings from state officials on Wisconsin’s plans for new passenger trains at a Legislative Day on Thursday, February 1, from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM. In order to register, please use this link provided by WisARP.

Additionally, the City of Madison has planned public meetings on station location for January 30 in person, and February 6 virtually. You can find details and register for the virtual session here.

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

By donating, you will join a growing movement working to make fast, frequent, and affordable trains a reality!

If you like, we will send you a notebook to help spread the word. This Pedova™ Soft Bound JournalBook® is 8.0″ H x 5.5″ W, features a flexible cover, and features a document pocket inside its interior back cover.

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What We Are Reading

New Fortress Energy CEO on U.S. Natural Gas Exports, Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Projects

“Who doesn’t love a train!” says Wes Edens, who leads the company behind Brightline. He discusses trains about four minutes into this interview.

Brightline West Lands $2.5B in Private Activity Bonds

The U.S. Department of Transportation approved a $2.5 billion private-activity bonds allocation to the Brightline West High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail project connecting Las Vegas to Southern California.

What Is Brightline Like? And Could It Be Coming to Tampa?

Last November, Brightline carried more than 205,600 passengers, more than double its November 2022 ridership, according to company data. Now, the company is gearing for a Tampa stop.

Transportation Is Still the Leading Source of U.S. Emissions

Emissions by drivers and auto manufacturers are undermining promising gains on other fronts in America’s fight against climate change, new estimates suggest.

How Long Before We Can Ride a Bullet Train to Fort Worth?

The North Central Texas Council of Governments, the entity responsible for securing state and federal funding for local transportation projects, is preparing to enter a planning phase to establish an alignment for high-speed rail between Dallas and Fort Worth, which would include identifying station locations and early conceptual engineering.

The Future of Amtrak in Madison

Transportation Planner Liz Callin joins Ali Muldrow on A Public Affair to talk about Madison’s station location, go over the logistics of the future train, and answer several callers’ questions. 

Guided Walk Through of CA HSR Transit Mockups (Video)

A key part of developing comprehensive train interiors, is getting feedback from key stakeholders including regional partners, the ADA community, students and more. Check out a quick guided tour of potential space and seat arrangements in this life-sized mockup model.

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...