Newsletter: 12/08/23

Takeaways From a Blockbuster Week for Trains Across America

Let’s celebrate a big step toward US high-speed rail!

Today, the Biden Administration formally announced the awards for the Federal–State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail and the Corridor ID Program. This combines Year 1 & Year 2 of a five -year commitment contained in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The big awards went to just a few projects, with several features common to all of them:

1. The state has shown a high level of commitment, in terms of funding and planning.

2. The state controls most of the land.

3. The project is ready to go.

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A map of existing Amtrak routes, routes with fed-state partnership grants and Corridor ID grants, as of 12/8/23

High Speed Rail Alliance Staff Update

Alliance deputy director Chris Ott gave an update to Downtown Madison, Inc., sharing this week’s news about major investments in high-speed rail, and $2.5 million in Corridor ID grants for new and expanded train service in Wisconsin.

Alliance executive director Rick Harnish has been sharing the exciting news about federal grants for high-speed rail with reporters across the country, in stories like these:

Pritzker’s Rail Comments Foreshadow Transit Debate in Spring Legislative Session

“I think we need to convey to the governor and the legislature that Amtrak’s proposal (Chicago Hub Improvement Program) is a good first step. But we need to be thinking much bigger with a lot more frequent service than what is currently proposed.”

California Wins Big as Biden Administration Doubles Down on High-Speed Rail

“Both Brightline West and California High Speed Rail are big. If we can get a high-speed line built and operating, then this becomes an American idea, not some foreign idea.”

A Las Vegas-LA Electric High Speed Rail Line Just Got $3B to Break Ground

“Getting a high-speed line in operation this decade will show Americans what this transformative technology can do. Much as the US did for the Interstate Highway System, it’s urgent to establish a federal rail program to plan and support states in developing fast, frequent, affordable train service throughout the country.”

Proposal to Save Chicago, Suburban Public Transit from Fiscal Cliff Is Sent to Springfield

Lawmakers must consider new taxes, combining four regional transit agencies under one board and changing fee structures. The report recommends the state prop up public transit with $1.5 billion. “The report focuses on just Chicago and the collar counties, but there’s real needs for better transit across the state.”

High-Speed Rail Projects Get $6 Billion in California

“This is a transformational investment in American trains. Travelers can now expect to see at least one train running as fast as 200 mph in the United States this decade, as well as a dramatic expansion of regional train service.”

What We Are Reading

Brightline West and California High Speed Rail Awarded $6.1 Billion in Federal Funding

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has made decisions that will start construction of a 186+ mph train line between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and continue building California’s high-speed line.

Proposed Amtrak Route Linking Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Wins Key Federal Funding for Future Planning

Four proposed routes in Ohio receive funding from the Corridor ID program, to study key metrics of the proposed routes.

Chicago Union Station to Receive More Than $93 Million for Upgrades

The money will fund renovation and expansion of station platforms, bringing them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, improving ventilation systems, and adding an entrance/exit to improve passenger capacity. It will also allow the station’s mail platform, out of use since 2005, to be repurposed for passenger use.

USDOT: 2024 RAISE Grant Applications Welcome

The USDOT released a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the FY 2024 RAISE program, providing $1.5 billion in discretionary grant funding for freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects with “significant local or regional impact.”

Air Canada Makes Europe a Little Smaller With Its New Connecting Trains Offer

Passengers can connect directly from the airport to train stations across France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria on a single ticket.

Amtrak Officials Outline New Goals, Initiatives at Public Board Meeting

Company projects surpassing pre-pandemic ridership, revenue in 2024; details efforts to restore long-distance cars to operation.

Spanish High-Speed Line Under Mountains Opens After 20 Years of Construction

Spain has officially opened a new railway line linking the northern province of Asturias to the rest of Spain’s high-speed rail network. It includes a 15.43-mile tunnel built under the Cantabrian mountain range.

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...