Newsletter 3/22/24: Amtrak Cascades and Japan HSR

Amtrak Cascades path to Increasing Speed and Frequency

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) released a Preliminary Service Development Plan (SDP) for the Amtrak Cascades route, a step towards creating a blueprint for improving the route over the next twenty years. 

The Amtrak Cascades service, which connects Eugene, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, is a great candidate for improvements. Currently the service operates at a max speed of 79 mph and only operates two daily round trips between most segments (excluding Portland to Seattle, which now operates six daily round trips). Despite this, the service saw over 800,000 annual riders (prior to the pandemic), showing that there is a lot of potential for growth. Improving the frequency and speed of the service, while also planning for high-speed rail, is critical to the entire region’s economic vitality, sustainability, and livability.

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People boarding a high-speed train in Japan.

Japan Extends High Speed Rail Network

On March 16, Japan opened a new high-speed line connecting Tsuruga with the rest of Japan’s high-speed rail network at Kanazawa, and allowing for direct service to Tokyo.

The new line is called the Hokuriku extension and it includes six new train stations, serving the major hubs in the region. High-speed trains will make fourteen round trips a day on the 360 mile route between Tokyo and Tsuruga. With top speeds of up to 186 mph, the travel time will be a little over three hours. This route is comparable to a trip from Chicago to Cleveland, which takes over five hours when traffic is light. 

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An Amtrak train is in the station at Denver Union Station at night. Passengers are on the platform. The iconic neon Union Station Travel by Train sign is lit up.

Colorado Front Range Passenger Rail

When: April 5, 2024 at 12pm CT on Zoom

Join Front Range Passenger Rail District (FRPRD) General Manager Andy Karsian and Chairman Jim Souby as they share the vision and achievements to realize an additional travel option along Colorado’s Front Range through passenger rail.

High Speed Rail Alliance 2024 Spring Luncheon

Join us on April 26 for our upcoming event in Chicago!

This year’s event will feature Jim Derwinski, the CEO/Executive Director of Chicago’s Metra rail system, as keynote speaker. Mr. Derwinski also serves as chairperson of the Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission.

More details will be announced soon!


Funding, Planning Underway for Redesign of Chicago Union Station (The Pantagraph)

Plans to overhaul Chicago Union Station are moving forward, as officials look to modernize and boost capacity at a key hub for Metra commuter trains and Amtrak.

Biden Touts High-Speed Rail Between Southern California and Las Vegas 

On Tuesday, at events in Reno and Las Vegas, Biden twice mentioned the $12-billion, 218-mile route between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga that the private company Brightline hopes to open by 2028. With speeds of up to 200 mph, it would be the first true high-speed rail line in the United States.

Here’s How Brightline Will Lure Car-Centric Americans Onto Its High-Speed Electric Trains

Brightline was listed at No. 31on Fast Company’s list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2024.  

Rep. Moulton Says America Is ‘Pathetically Behind’ On High-Speed Rail

“So what this bill would do is finally put money into building a modern high-speed rail system, the same systems that we have in all over the world. I mean, literally every developed country on earth either has or is building high-speed rail except for the United States.” 

Can Amtrak Finally Bring High-Speed Rail to Texas? (Video)

Voters Want More Transit Options. Politicians Should Listen.

With over 70 percent of voters saying the government should fund more public transit, it’s no surprise imaginary transit maps keep going viral.

Duckworth, Durbin, Quigley Discuss Chicago Hub Improvement Project With Canadian National

“Rail has always been a vital component of our state’s infrastructure.  As we move forward with the Chicago Hub Improvement Project, we want all stakeholders, including CN, to share the same vision of modernizing Midwest rail for the future, through improvements to Chicago Union Station and its connectivity.” – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Dayton, Springfield Proposed as Passenger Rail Stops for Routes Connecting Detroit to New Orleans, New York to Dallas

A study being conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration has identified Dayton and Springfield as potential stops on two proposed long-distance passenger rail routes connecting Detroit to New Orleans, Louisiana, and New York to Dallas, Texas.

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