This week we learned where the next Brightline station in Florida will be constructed. In October, Brightline launched a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new station located in the Treasure Coast. It was reported that five proposals were submitted, including...
This week was full of good news about passenger rail projects making progress across the country. Communities are working hard to implement new or improved train service, taking advantage of the record federal funding for passenger rail included in the IIJA. From California, to Montana, Illinois and North Carolina, there’s a lot to be excited about it. We also look abroad to the ambitious high-speed rail network being developed in Morocco.
Peoria to Chicago Passenger Rail Study Released
On Thursday, city leaders in Peoria, IL announced the results of a feasibility study for a new passenger rail corridor connecting Peoria, Lasalle-Peru, Utica, Ottawa, Morris, Joliet, and Chicago. Peoria is the largest metro area in Illinois without passenger trains, and initial results of the study show there is demand and public support for the project.
The proposed service level includes 5-round trips per day, taking a little over two and a half hours to travel the corridor at 79 mph. The study surveyed 31,000 residents, showing strong support for the project. 83.2% of respondents said they were “very likely” to take the train, while 11.4% said they were “somewhat likely” to use the service.
The next step is for the Illinois Department of Transportation to include the corridor in their rail plan and Mayor Rita Ali said they plan on applying for federal assistance via the FRA’s Corridor and Identification Program.
Caltrain Conducts First Test of Electric Trainse
Caltrain’s first electric trainset underwent testing last weekend, marking another milestone in Caltrain’s transition from a commuter-oriented service to a state-of-the-art regional rail system. This initial test was to ensure that the trains meet clearance requirements, and it was reported that no major problems were discovered.
Caltrain’s switch to electric trains will enable faster and more frequent service and provide environmental benefits by improving regional air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Caltrain is taking advantage of high-speed rail funding to create the nation’s first true regional rail line, offering departures every 15 minutes throughout the day and reduced travel times. It’s setting an example for how commuter rail can transition to all-day service and shows how high-speed rail projects positively impact rail networks beyond the initial high-speed line.
Morocco National Railways Office has completed a feasibility study for the first phase of the Maghreb high-speed line, an extension to their existing high-speed rail network. The new line would connect the capital Rabat with the city of Fez, about 200km to the east, and eventually extend to Oujda at the eastern border of Morocco.
In 2018 Morocco inaugurated Africa’s first true high-speed line, running between Tangier, the capital Rabat and Casablanca at speeds up to 320km/h. The Maghreb line is the next step in Morocco’s plan to construct a 1,300 km high-speed network between Morocco’s major cities. Another line between Casablanca, Marrakech, and Agadir are also in the planning stage. When the network is complete, it will connect 43 cities, 14 ports and 12 airports.
North Carolina Looks to Bring Trains to New Cities
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is studying new passenger rail routes throughout the state. They have partnered with planners in Pitt County to conduct a feasibility study for service connecting The Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) with Greenville, NC. The project has the support of Greenville’s mayor, among other community leaders and elected officials. The study is being conducted using federal funds and is scheduled to take 18 months to complete.
Similar studies for other new corridors in North Carolina are advancing as well, including service between Raleigh and Wilmington, Salisbury and Asheville, and there’s potential for another study looking at connecting the Triangle and Fayetteville.
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