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Weekly Newsletter: Big Week for Trains in DC

June 30, 2015

The Senate took important steps last week by passing two critical transportation bills.  

The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously passed the forward thinking RREEA bill I told you about last week. If you don't remember this bill, with it's numerous reforms, is a major step forward for passenger rail. You can check out the full bill here.

The second bill passed by the Senate was a $55.7 billion FY2016 Transportation & Housing Appropriations bill. In comparison to the bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee this is an upgrade.  

The bill includes 1.68 billion for the FRA which is $53 million over the FY2015 levels. $289 million of that fund will be for Amtrak operations and continued service for all current routes, as well as 1.1 billion for capitols grants for Amtrak. While this is a large sum, it is unfortunately well below the $2 billion Amtrak had initially requested.

Meanwhile in the House, Congressman Dan Lipinski has introduced the Future Transportation Research and Innovation for Prosperity (TRIP) Act. This would fund opportunities for transportation innovation and transformative technologies that would aid in transportation coordination, efficiency and safety, increase performance, cost reduction, and much more. 

We are glad to see that the Congress is making progress but it is critical that they continue to invest more in our railroad infrastructure and innovations that will bring us fast, frequent, and dependable service. 

Shira Orlowek
Operations Manager

Last Week at MHSRA:
In response to Illinois Governor Rauner's announcement to cut 40% of Amtrak's budget, MHSRA sent out letters to mayors, universities, tourism bureaus and more to inform people of the impacts these cuts will have on our regional economy. 

Articles We Enjoyed:
Amtrak plans major makeover for Chicago's Union Station
"The goal is to transform the 90-year-old building into a traveler and visitor's venue that exceeds the retail and food offerings at Union Station in Washington, D.C."

States Take Larger Role in Passenger Rail 
"Ridership on Illinois routes grew by 85 percent in the last decade. But now the talk in Springfield is about cuts to Amtrak, not expansions." 

Private Company Attempts High-Speed Train Between Houston And Dallas
"If all goes as planned, there will be a high-speed train linking Houston and Dallas by 2021. The private company Texas Central Railway is behind the $10 billion project."

State officials kick off high-speed rail project 
"The state Department of Transportation and Amtrak are partnering to build an additional section of track and new platforms there. Officials said the upgrades will reduce congestion and minimize delays."

High-speed railway opens in scenic China mountain region
"With a top speed of 300 km/h, this is China's first high-speed railway across mountainous areas. The railway will cut travel times between Fuzhou and Hefei from eight hours to four, according to railway authorities."

Upcoming Events: 
P3 Infrastructure Summit 2015 In New York City - October 14-15, 2015

Shira Orlowek
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625

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