Takeaways From a Blockbuster Week for Trains Across America

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

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

Let’s celebrate a big step toward U.S. 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 and Year 2 of a five -year commitment contained in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

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.

Those states and projects were:

The other Fed-State Partnership awards were:

  • Alaska: A new bridge in Willow. $8,200,558
  • Amtrak: Concourse and platform improvements at Chicago Union Station. $93,600,000
  • Amtrak: Improvements to the Empire Builder route near Malta, Montana. $14,900,000
  • Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority: Construction to improve the Downeaster. $27,492,000
  • Pennsylvania: Construction to improve the Harrisburg to Pittsburgh line and add a daily roundtrip. $143,629,028

There were some disappointments. For example, Chicago Union Station needs a much bigger investment, and the Minneapolis–Duluth Northern Lights project seemed ready to go.

There are two big take aways from today’s announcements:

  1. We need a much bigger federal program, and
  2. We need a lot more projects ready to go.

That is where Corridor ID comes in.

The BIL established Corridor ID to create a pipeline of projects and launch a big, ongoing, federal program. Today’s announcement also included the news that 69 corridor segments have been added to the program. In some cases, they overlap with projects that already have funding. And, in many cases, each should be included as part of longer corridors or part of bigger networks.

Four new high-speed rail projects were included in this round:

  • Atlanta, GA – Charlotte, NC
  • Fort Worth – Dallas – Houston, TX
  • Portland, OR – Seattle, WA – Vancouver, BC
  • Palmdale – Victorville, CA (linking Brightline West to the California high-speed backbone.)

So, a lot of what we envision as a national network will soon be under study.

This is the critical stage—the early planning phase—that not many “outsiders” are involved in. But big decisions get made.

This means it is vital that you get engaged with your local project and help get local leaders engaged as well. It also means helping your state be optimistic and plan for success with the segment planned as part of a bigger network.

And, if the segment you care most about didn’t get accepted in this round, please push the state to submit a winning application.

See the full list of Corridor ID awards

We will have more soon on how you can get engaged, help build on these key victories, and keep the momentum going for fast, frequent, and affordable trains across America.


A dude is using an IPad on a station platform wth a high-speed train in the background.

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The country needs an Interstate Railway Program, like the Interstate Highway Program, to take full advantage of the community, economic, and environmental benefits of trains.

Please join with us in asking Congress to create a national railway program to re-connect America with fast, frequent, and affordable trains.

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