Caltrain, Federal Budget and HSR
There’s been a flurry of news in the past week, both good and bad, that could have long-term impacts on passenger rail in North America.
Let’s start with some good news. The Federal Transit Administration confirmed that it would execute the Full Funding Agreement for Caltrain modernization. This project has faced uncertainty for the past couple months. Now construction can begin on this groundbreaking project that will provide a template for passenger rail upgrades in the Midwest and around the country.
We are grateful for all of the rail advocates in Silicon Valley and around the country that stood up for Caltrain. Your efforts helped the Trump Administration realize the value of Caltrain modernization and to finally make the right decision to fund the project.
Now, a bit of bad news. The Trump Administration released their FY2018 budget proposal. Just like their earlier framework, it places little value on non-automotive transportation. The Administration is proposing drastic funding cuts that would begin a downward spiral for all passenger trains across the country.
Congress rejected these cuts when passing the continuing resolution for the remainder of FY2017. We need to remind our representatives to invest in the growth of the system.
In another positive development, the province of Ontario has allocated $11 million for the preliminary design and environmental assessment of a Toronto and Windsor high-speed line. Their goal is to start construction on the high-speed one in 2022 and begin operations by 2025.
Last Week at MHSRA
We attended the Homewood Rail Fest and enjoyed all the train related fun. It was a great opportunity to speak with residents of Homewood, IL about the vision for high-speed rail in the Midwest. This includes a multi-purpose passenger rail corridor with a stop at Homewood, that high-speed trains would use to access Chicago.
Articles We Enjoyed
Feds Approve $647 Million Grant for Caltrain Electrification Project
“In a stunning reversal, the Federal Transit Administration said Monday that it will approve a $647 million grant to electrify Caltrain tracks, nearly doubling capacity on the overburdened San Jose to San Francisco commute route.”
Ontario Commits to Toronto - Windsor High-Speed Rail
“We have to provide faster, better, more sustainable transport options, The best time to build high-speed rail was 40 years ago. The second-best time is today. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
Countdown to Brightline
"Brightline— Florida’s now-abuilding Miami–West Palm Beach–Orlando higher-speed passenger service— stands to be a rainbow of hope in a country fraught with endless waffling on commitment to a solid passenger-rail system like the rest of the world."
Transportation Department Faces Cuts Under Trump Budget
“Funding for the Department of Transportation and a number of popular transportation programs would be slashed under President Trump’s budget request.”
High-Speed Rail Network Plan Spells Enormous Investment for Prague
“The Czech capital can look forward to the most expensive construction in its entire history after the government on Monday approved the building of a national high-speed network.”
Breakfast with Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman
The City Club of Chicago is hosting a breakfast with Amtrak's new CEO. This is an opportunity to learn about the direction Wick Moorman is leading Amtrak.