Railroad passengers came out ahead in two important regulatory decisions made by the Surface Transportation Board last Thursday, which will affect the reliability of Amtrak service. The proposals introduced a revised definition to passenger train on-time performance and ‘preference’ over freight trains.
On July 15th, the City of Chicago announced plans to modernize Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. The new project, O’Hare 21, is part of a multi billion-dollar capital investment program to improve the airport as an international gateway and economic driver for the region. The plan includes a 25% expansion of Terminal 5 and the redevelopment of Terminal 2. It is unclear how much this will affect capacity but some renderings showed terminals with 220 gates, up 32 percent.
Last week Cook County, Illinois released its first long term transportation plan since 1940. Connecting Cook County advocates for increased investments in transportation, equal access to transportation and places an emphasis on car-free transit.
A study on how people use transit throughout the United States was released by the Transit Center. The Who’s On Board 2016 report examined people’s patterns of transit use to discover what riders value in transit and how that knowledge can be used to build ridership.
The Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway just celebrated its fifth anniversary. The 820-mile long railway is the longest high speed line be built in a single phase. It was constructed in just over 3 years for a cost of $34.7 billion. This line is a critical section of China’s rail network, serving two of the biggest economic centers in the world and close to a quarter of China’s population.
Extraordinary transportation growth is taking place in the region of Ontario as part of a plan to grow the economy and create jobs. Over the next 10 years Ontario is investing $31.5 billion in roads, bridges and trains in order to build an integrated regional transportation network. The most exciting aspect of this is centered on the expansion of the GO network, Toronto’s equivalent to Metra, and increased frequency along these routes.
Last week a special train operated between Indianapolis and Lafayette. Elected officials and stakeholders from local communities the train to celebrate the new Hoosier State service. There is plenty to celebrate with ticket revenues for the service up 20 percent, customer satisfaction at 90 percent and on-time performance improving.
The Chicago-Indianapolis Corridor connects the two largest cities in the Midwest and is vital to the communities it serves. It is also a key segment of the statewide network and has the potential to grow substantially, generating large economic and environmental benefits.
Amtrak is taking an important step forward in updating their accounting structure to provide a more comprehensive view of Amtrak’s finances, which should improve the decision making process. This is taking place as a result of section 11201 of the 2015 FAST act that requires the FRA and Amtrak to work together to restructure the accounting process.
Since our last federal funding update, appropriations for the Rail Title of the FAST Act has passed the Senate and is now moving through the House. We are pleased to inform you that both versions of the appropriations bills provide increased levels of funding for passenger rail.