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MIPRC urges Midwestern Members of Congress to Support Extension of PTC Implementation Deadline

On October 1, MIPRC sent a letter to Midwestern Members of Congress, supporting an extension of the Positive Train Control (PTC) deadline, with authority for FRA to review and enforce.

MIPRC submits comments to Senate Commerce Committee on PRIIA reauthorization

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

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.

Midwestern states submit Statement of Interest for FRA-Led Regional Rail Planning

On Nov. 12, MIPRC submitted a Statement of Interest and Qualifications on behalf of the Midwestern states for participating in an FRA-led regional rail planning process.

In the short timeframe provided, the Midwest received more than 90 letters of support from a wide variety of supporters across the region.

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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.

MIPRC and MWRRI submit joint comments into FRA draft state rail plan guidance

On October 15, MIPRC and the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) steering committee submitted joint comments into the Federal Railroad Administration’s draft guidance for the state development of rail plans.

MIPRC stresses need for dedicated multi-year federal funding for all modes, including passenger rail

This week, MIPRC sent a letter to the conferees to the federal surface transportation reauthorization, stressing the need for dedicated, multi-year multimodal funding, and making the case that passenger rail be included.

RFP issued for new passenger rail cars on 8 Midwestern corridors

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

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!

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!

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!

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

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.

MIPRC Commissioners meet with Members of Congress to stress importance of federal commitment to passenger rail development

On June 15, MIPRC commissioners met with more than 40 Midwestern members of Congress and their staff to stress the importance of continuing to build a strong federal/state partnership for passenger rail development. Commissioners presented a letter detailing the commission’s recommendations.

Updated chart on HSIPR awards to Midwestern states

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.

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