Newsletter 5/17/24: High-Speed Rail Champions

Secretary Pete Wows Crowd at USHSR Conference

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was interviewed by former Secretary Ray LaHood in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the US High Speed Rail Conference this week.

Here are my takeaways from a rather compelling discussion:

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Congressman Quigley speaking during a congressional hearing.

Congressman Quigley Champions High-Speed Rail

Congressman Mike Quigley published an outstanding opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune this week called “We need to invest in a high-speed rail future.” Rep. Quigley raised the bar for service in Illinois by calling for a 2½-hour trip time between Chicago and St. Louis—half the time today’s trains currently take.

Congressman Quigley goes on to argue for stepped up investment in existing assets, particularly Chicago Union Station.  He was instrumental in gaining $40 million in federal funds for Union Station upgrades in last month’s appropriations bill.

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Colorado Governor Signs Bill That Includes Regional Rail Funding

Colorado’s Front Range Passenger Rail project received a boost this week when Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a transportation bill that could help fund the project. Senate Bill 184 allows the state to impose a $3 per day fee on all rental cars in Colorado, and use the funding for transportation projects.

Governor Polis signed SB 184 while aboard a train at Denver Union Station, and had this to say:

“Front Range Passenger Rail is a critical way to make Colorado more sustainable, affordable, and livable,” Polis said in a statement. “High-quality service will allow Coloradans from every corner of our state to travel with ease to enjoy everything our communities have to offer. Today we are closer to this reality than ever.”

Read More:

Bringing Regional Rail to Colorado’s Front Range

New Passenger Rail Line in the Mountains Gets on Track 

Colorado Governor Polis signs transportation bill on the train.
Congressman Quigley speaking during a congressional hearing.

In Memory of Legendary Rail Advocate Anthony Haswell

The US lost a giant of passenger-train advocacy this week. Anthony Haswell, who founded the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) in 1967, died at the age of 94. NARP, now called the Rail Passengers Association, was pivotal in creating Amtrak in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

His work lives on in the strong and growing movement for better train service across the US. The Alliance is deeply indebted to his legacy, and we extend our sympathies to his friends and family. 

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Lakeshore Rail Summit: Creating Transportation Oases

When: Thursday, June 13 at 1pm ET


Why: Billions of dollars in federal funding for rail transportation will transform cities like Erie with a transportation desert into a transportation oasis in the next decade. The rail corridor between Chicago and the East Coast is at risk of missing out. Learn how regional passenger rail projects can create a transportation oasis in Erie. 

High-Speed Rail and the Construction of Space in 1960s Japan

When: Friday, June 28 at 12pm CT on Zoom

This talk will consider the bullet train in terms of the social construction of space—the ways in which people think about and use physical spaces—comparing government plans with public reactions to highlight the interaction between ideas and the built environment.

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