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June 24, 2019

Can you share a story about when you thought, “I wish I could have taken a train!”

I think that a lot. Here’s a recent example.

Last week I traveled to Louisville to present at the Congress for New Urbanism. My talk was about how a focus on networks, instead of individual routes, will make it easier to build a coalition for fast trains.

I wish there was a train to Louisville.

The flight from Chicago was expensive. Getting past the TSA was demeaning and time-consuming.

I had considered driving, but it would have twice as expensive and twice as long.

June 19, 2019

White House staff have issued a threat of presidential veto against a fiscal 2020 “minibus” package. These bills include Amtrak’s regular $2 billion operating funds, as well as a provision that protects federal funding for California high-speed rail.

We’ve made it easy to send a message to your representatives and the president: Fund Amtrak and high-speed rail!

The bills are being debated on the House floor today. Please take action now.

June 05, 2019

Thank you to everyone in Illinois who contacted their legislators in recent weeks to show support for trains!

Together, we gained funding commitments for new Amtrak routes and an all-new dedicated fund for transit projects.Perhaps the single biggest achievement is the doubling of the state’s gas tax. This effectively restores the power of the tax that had been lost to inflation since it was last adjusted nearly 30 years ago. (It’s worth noting that transit fares have roughly doubled over the same period.) And, the tax will now be indexed to rise with inflation every year.

June 02, 2019

Capital Bill Passes - Passenger Rail Projects Funded

The Illinois General Assembly has passed the "Capital Bill".

We will have more analysis in our regular newsletter this week, but there are a few items that we can celebrate right away. The bill funds:

May 20, 2019

As you read this, your legislators in Springfield are busy dividing up the pie. Tell them to give trains a bigger slice!

Now is the time to demand more Amtrak trains, better Metra service, and high-speed rail! We've made it easy to send a message. Take action now!

May 10, 2019

New legislation introduced in Illinois this week by Senator Marty Sandoval could be a big step forward for high-speed rail.

The Illinois General Assembly is considering a “capital bill,” a major infrastructure spending package, which it hasn’t done since 2009. That’s an unusually long gap. What’s more, this proposed bill is dramatically different from past ones, both in how it identifies funding and how it spends it.

May 02, 2019

On May 1, California’s High-Speed Rail Authority delivered a project update report to the state’s legislature. This report, along with a recent interview with authority CEO Brian Kelly in Politico Pro (subscription required), shows that the state is on the right track.

April 11, 2019

Last week, Virgin Trains USA sold $1.75 billion worth of high-yield bonds to qualified investors eager to invest in “a whole new level of train transportation.” Initially proposed as a $1.5 billion sale, it was not only upsized to a $1.75 billion sale, but was also priced a day ahead of schedule because of such high demand.

March 26, 2019

An ultra-high speed rail system running trains with testing speeds of 250 mph to create a Pacific Northwest megaregion was a key theme of Karen Hedlund’s talk at the Midwest High Speed Rail Association’s annual meeting on March 23.

Hedlund is the National Railroad Strategy Advisor with WSP, a consulting firm that specializes in transportation, and the former Chief Counsel for the Federal Railroad Administration.

March 08, 2019

The ongoing struggle over federal funding for California’s high-speed line from San Francisco to LA adds uncertainty to what was already a confusing situation. A reality check is in order.