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MIPRC to Congress, FRA, Amtrak: Sustain the federal-state partnership for passenger rail
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MIPRC to Congress, FRA, Amtrak: Sustain the federal-state partnership for passenger rail

There is more to Amtrak than the Northeast Corridor, and good things are happening in the Midwest thanks to sustained federal investment in regional passenger rail. That was the message delivered last month when MIPRC commissioners and partners visited Washington, D.C., to meet with Midwestern members of Congress and federal officials.

In a packed two-day visit on May 23-24, MIPRC’s delegation briefed House and Senate transportation-related committee staffers (see our presentation, here) and met with 39 key Midwestern members of Congress who sit on those committees; and met with Ron Batory, the new administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, and with Richard Anderson, the new CEO of Amtrak.

Commissioners stressed the importance of a strong state/federal partnership to preserve and improve intercity passenger rail, and highlighted the improvements to the region’s passenger rail system made possible through federal funding awards, as well as ongoing plans to strengthen and develop service. MIPRC’s key advocacy points can be seen here.

Commissioners provided updates on improvements to state-supported services like infrastructure upgrades to 110-mph service on the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Detroit corridors, the introduction of Siemens-built “Charger” locomotives and the “Amtrak Midwest” brand, and the pending delivery of new single-level passenger cars.

Commissioners also drew attention to the long-term increases in ridership on routes that serve the Midwest – up 20 percent on state-supported routes from Fiscal Year 2007 to FY 2017, and up 19 percent on long-distance routes over the same period.

MIPRC commissioners on the trip included: MIPRC chair Beth McCluskey, director of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Office of Intermodal Project Implementation (Illinois); MIPRC Financial Officer Rep. Sharon Negele and Jim Stark, director of multimodal at the Indiana Department of Transportation (Indiana); Rep. Brad Ralph and Pete Meitzner (Kansas); Joan Bray (Missouri); Sen. Dan Quick (Nebraska); Rep. Kim Koppelman (North Dakota); and Sen. Mark Miller (Wisconsin).

Commissioners were joined by MIPRC corporate partners Siemens (Steve Morrison) and WSP (Phil Pasterak and Anna Lynn Smith).

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