Passenger Rail Federal Funding
The Senate Appropriation THUD Committee released their proposed appropriation levels on April 19th, which would provide increased levels of funding for critical passenger rail programs. Two of these programs were recently introduced in the FAST Act and are essential to strengthening our national network.
The Restoration and Enhancement Grants program would provide federal operating assistance for up to six new, reestablished or expanded passenger rail services. The appropriation proposed is $15 million out of the $20.5 million authorized.
The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program was authorized for up to $190 million in order to cover a broad range of projects. The appropriations bill may restrict use to only grade crossings, PTC, rail line relocation and short-line improvements. This means that station improvements, capital construction and rail planning may not get the funding that MHSRA supporters fought so hard to get authorized.
With this restriction on the use of funds, projects like Chicago’s Union Station (CUS) Master Plan would be unable to receive federal funds for the station’s much needed improvements. CUS is a vital asset for Amtrak’s network as it supports 16% of Amtrak riders and provides 15% of Amtrak’s passenger revenues.
Thank you to everyone who voiced their support by urging their Members of Congress to fully fund these critical rail programs.
Last Week at MHSRA:
We attended the National Association of Railroad Passenger’s “Day on The Hill” in Washington D.C., where we met with elected officials to discuss the importance of policies and funding for passenger rail.
Articles We Enjoyed:
A New Map for America
"A Midwestern high-speed rail network...would not just link wealthy investment hubs...it would make it easier for workers to commute to where the jobs are."
Bright line Innovation: Retractable Gap Filler
"Brightline's trains will be the first in the United States to utilize retractable gap fillers, making boarding and disembarking the trains easy and convenient for all riders."
High-Speed Rail is Just Part of a Bigger Role for Trains in California’s Transit Future
"[CAHSR] ought to be seen as a key element of a statewide public transit network with a large rail component that can be cleaner and equally as convenient a travel option as the automobile."
Spain Pushes Ahead with High-Speed Plans
"With several line extensions set to open this year and further projects underway, high-speed rail remains the major priority for the Spanish government's infrastructure budget."
Japan High-Speed Rail Tour
Join us this September to discover how Japan’s high speed network relates to the future of high speed rail in the United States. We will ride the world’s first high speed line, Japans newest and fastest high speed trains and enjoy the sights in Tokyo and Kyoto.
Call the Society of International Railway Travelers at 800-478-4881 to reserve your spot.
Train Day Events
Enjoy a fun and educational experience as we highlight the history and future of passenger train travel, the historic and current role of freight railroads in our region, and changing transportation trends and needs. All will enjoy a wide variety of free transportation-inspired activities. The weekend will include train equipment, musical entertainment, special events and activities for all ages.
When: Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 1, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Where: St. Paul Union Depot
Cost: Entry is free but there are some ticketed events.
Take the opportunity to tour the Amtrak Exhibit Train and hear from local, state and national leaders speaking about the importance of rail. The event also features rail travel info, model trains, rail art, informational exhibits, kid train ride, food, prizes and drawings for train trips. Make sure to visit our booth if you make it there!
When: Saturday, May 7, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: 415 Emerald Ave. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza (Amtrak Station Building)
Cost: The event is free!
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625