Archived MIPRC News

MIPRC submits comments to Senate Commerce Committee on PRIIA reauthorization

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MIPRC appreciates the U.S. House and Senate’s effort to reauthorize Amtrak funding and the programs of the Federal Railroad Administration. The commission believes that the continued development of a national intercity passenger rail system is a crucial component of our nation’s transportation network and that such a national system is needed to compensate for the ever-worsening problems of highway and aviation congestion.

HR 749, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, was passed by the House in March. As the Senate Commerce Committee considers the legislation, MIPRC asked for several considerations that we believe would strengthen the bill.

MIPRC submits federal FY 2016 funding request

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MIPRC submitted "outside witness testimony" to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies for FY 2016, asking for adequate funding for both Amtrak and the passenger rail-related programs managed by the Federal Railroad Administration.

MIPRC submits comments to T&I Committee on reauthorization of PRIIA

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Last week, MIPRC sent a letter to the U.S. Transportation & Infrastructure rail subcommittee Chair Jeff Denham and Ranking Member Corrine Brown (which was then sent to all committee members), commenting on HR 5449, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2014 (PRRIA).

Reauthorization of the landmark Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) is an extremely important issue to MIPRC and, of course, its states.

MIPRC submits FY 2015 federal funding request

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Last Friday (4/11), MIPRC officers submitted a request for FY 2015 federal transportation appropriations to the US House Transportation, Housing & Urban Development (THUD) subcommittee of Appropriations.

New passenger rail equipment coming to the Midwest!

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On December 19, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced that the department has issued a Notice of Intent to Award to Siemens USA to design, build and deliver 35 high-performance diesel-electric locomotives on behalf of the departments of transportation from Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.

MIPRC Chair Invited to Testify Before U.S. House Rail Subcommittee

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MIPRC Chair Illinois Rep. Elaine Nekritz testified before the U.S. House rail subcommittee of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee yesterday, stressing the accomplishments of the Midwestern states in passenger rail development and encouraging the subcommittee Members to create a strong federal/state partnership for passenger rail that other modes of transportation enjoy.

MIPRC states upgrading region’s intercity passenger rail lines

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Four years ago, federal lawmakers made an historic funding commitment to passenger rail – billions of dollars for projects that aim to improve intercity and interstate service.

The Midwest has received $2.5 billion of the money obligated so far under the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program (a little more than a quarter of total federal funding) for 39 different projects.

MIPRC and MWRRI submit joint letter to Secretary LaHood re: CMAQ funding for passenger rail operations

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Yesterday, MIPRC and the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) steering committee sent a joint letter to US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, asking him to remove the three-year cap on allowing states to use the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) for intercity passenger rail funds operations.

Several of our states have used – or plan to use – CMAQ funding to help offset the cost of operating passenger rail service.  Using CMAQ funds for intercity passenger rail operating expenses is a decision for each individual state, but having that flexibility is key.

RFP issued for new passenger rail cars on 8 Midwestern corridors

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Secretary LaHood has announced a $551 million RFP for the U.S. manufacturing of approximately 130 new bi-level passenger rail cars, including 88 passenger cars that will run on 8 corridors in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and potentially Iowa. Illinois is the lead Midwestern state on the joint passenger rail equipment purchase that was awarded $268 million through the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program last May (2011). In addition, two other HSIPR awards that Illinois received (for the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Omaha corridors) have additional funding for equipment included.

MIPRC Provides Input into FFY 2013 Transportation Appropriations

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MIPRC officers sent a letter to members of the US House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD), asking that key funding for passenger rail development be included in the federal FY 2013 appropriations. The commission requested $1.050 billion for the HSIPR program (the amount authorized in PRIIA); $500 million for the TIGER program and $2.167 billion in operating and capital support for Amtrak.

Midwest now home to first 110 mph corridor outside of Northeast!

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This week, the Michigan DOT and Amtrak received federal approval to begin 110 mph service between Porter, Indiana and Kalamazoo, Michigan on the Chicago-Detroit (Wolverine service) and Chicago-Port Huron (Blue Water service) routes – the first outside of the Northeast Corridor!

Another record year for passenger rail in the Midwest!

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Passenger rail ridership on state-supported and other shorter distance corridors (less than 750 miles) in the Midwest continues to thrive. Ridership on these nine routes grew by 5.4 percent in FY 2011, and exceeded the 2.9 million mark. Over the past five years, corridor ridership in the Midwest has grown by 54 percent. Nationwide, Amtrak experienced an all-time ridership record of 30.2 million passengers for the fiscal year, which ended September 30.

Michigan’s Blue Water service between Chicago and Port Huron experienced the region's largest ridership increase, up 18.6 percent, while ridership increases on Illinois’ Illini/Saluki service between Chicago and Carbondale followed close behind, at 18.2 percent.

Passenger rail development is MOVING in the Midwest!

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Passenger rail development is MOVING in our region, as well as the nation! As of yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration has obligated funding for 72 of the 77 projects award through the stimulus (ARRA), the initial funding made available under the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program – almost $7.8 billion of the $8 billion has been signed off, with agreements in place, almost a year in advance of the deadline! Also, Amtrak has had a record ridership year – more than 30 million riders! We’ll give you the specifics for the region as soon as they’re available.

FRA and Midwestern states reach cooperative agreement for joint equipment purchase

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Today, U.S. Secretary Ray LaHood announced that Illinois and California (as the lead states) have reached cooperative agreements with the Federal Railroad Administration to begin a multi-state procurement of passenger rail equipment for corridors in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon and Washington State.

For the Midwest, this HSIPR program funding obligation is $ 268,201,084, and encompasses the purchase of 48 passenger rail cars and 7 locomotives for 8 corridors in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri. The award was announced in May, and the states and FRA have been working diligently to secure the agreements necessary to obligate the funding.

Updated chart on HSIPR awards to Midwestern states

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Midwestern states have received awards of more than $2.5 billion to date from the federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program. The attached updated chart reflects awards announced May 9, as well as redistributed funding from previous award announcements.

Midwest receives more than one-third of new federal funds for HSIPR

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The Midwest received $672.3 million, more than a third of the funding available to the states through today’s High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program announcement. For the first time, Midwestern states were awarded federal dollars to modernize passenger rail equipment, and also received important additional funding for passenger rail corridor development in the region. MIPRC welcomes this strong affirmation of the region’s plans for fast, frequent passenger service.

MIPRC Director Submits Testimony to US House T&I Committee Field Hearing

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Laura Kliewer, MIPRC's director, attended and submitted testimony to the US House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing on Feb. 20 in DuPage County, Illinois. The hearing was part of the committee's listening tour on surface transportation reauthorization. Kliewer asked that Congress include passenger rail development as a key component to any reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program.

President Obama reiterates his commitment to the expansion of passenger rail

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President Obama reiterated his commitment to high-speed rail in his 2011 State of the Union address. The President said that "within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail" and emphasized that "(a)s we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway."

MIPRC Advocacy Positions

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We have posted an updated list of MIPRC's advocacy positions; these points have been communicated to Members of Congress and other federal officials in recent months.

Train ridership in the Midwest reaches record numbers

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Travelers across the Midwest are taking the train in record numbers, according to FY 2010 ridership and revenue numbers released by Amtrak this month. Almost 2.8 million people took the train on short-distance corridor service within the region last year – an 8 percent increase over FY 2009.

MIPRC’s chair testifies before US House rail subcommittee

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On Tuesday, MIPRC Chair Rep. Elaine Nekritz (Illinois) testified on behalf of the commission before the rail subcommittee of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. The subcommittee was holding a field hearing in Chicago on High-Speed Rail Grants Awarded under the Recovery Act.

Kansas Joins Compact!

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Today Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson signed HB 2552 into law, which enacts the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact in that state. Kansas is the 11th state to join the MIPRC.

White House list includes funding for each Midwestern state that applied

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According to a summary list and fact sheets posted on the White House web site late last night, each Midwestern state that applied for a portion of the $8 billion stimulus funding available through the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program has received funding for one or more project. In total, the Midwest will receive funding over $2.6 billion.

Midwestern states submit $11.6 billion in applications for ARRA passenger rail funding

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The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) issued a press release on October 7 reporting that Midwestern states submitted a total of $11.6 billion in applications for the funding that was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA) for passenger rail capital development. The release also provided detailed comparative information on the Midwestern states' applications.

President Obama issues strategic plan for $8 billion passenger rail funding

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Yesterday President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary LaHood released the strategic plan for allocating the $8 billion in passenger rail funding provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The plan also gives insight into the process for project funding going forward (with a planned $1 billion investment per year over five years).

President Obama issues strategic plan for $8 billion passenger rail funding

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Yesterday President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary LaHood released the strategic plan for allocating the $8 billion in passenger rail funding provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The plan also gives insight into the process for project funding going forward (with a planned $1 billion investment per year over five years). 00.........

MIPRC and Allies Call on Congress to Increase Funding for Rail in Stimulus

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MIPRC commissioners and allies across the region held press conferences and issued press releases on Thursday, January 29 and Friday, January 30, calling on Congress and the Obama administration to include substantive funding for passenger rail in the federal stimulus package currently being debated in Congress.

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Secretariat services provided by The Council Of State Governments' Midwestern Office.