They laughed when he said trains are the future. They’re not laughing now.

Passenger are descending on the escalator to platform level where a Brightline train is waiting.

It was June 2020, the early days of the pandemic. Train ridership was way down. Amtrak’s future was shaky. And Forbes ran a long piece about investor Wes Edens, his company Brightline, and his ambitious plan to invest in trains.

Trains are “a gigantic opportunity,” he told Forbes. They’re the future, he said.

People laughed.

They’re not laughing now.

Brightline’s Orlando-Miami service just launched, to rave reviews. Brightline West—a 200+ mph line from the outskirts of Los Angeles to Las Vegas—just won a $3 billion federal grant and will be operational in 2028.

And that’s just the beginning.

Every corner of America has—or is planning for—a system of fast trains. California’s San Francisco to LA line is under construction. A public/private coalition in the Pacific Northwest is planning an “ultra” high-speed line. Amtrak is methodically upgrading its popular Northeast Corridor service—as well as routes across the country—and partnering with a private company on a Dallas-Houston high-speed line. Major upgrades are in the works for Chicago’s rail infrastructure.

And demand is surging for fast, frequent, and affordable trains in communities across the heartland and along the coasts. In fact, a recent poll found that about 90 percent of Americans support investments in better passenger-train service.

Forbes summed up the past year as “a watershed moment” for trains.

A gigantic opportunity, indeed.

Let’s make the most of it in 2024.

With your help, we’ll tell more stories, reach more people, and push for bolder plans and better service in corridors across the country.

Like the man said, trains are the future. And the future is now.


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