I have all my arrangements made for my trip to Washington DC for the Rail Passengers Association meeting in March. I will take the Acela HSR train from DC to Boston MA and I will buy those tickets this weekend. But flight and hotels are done! I did buy extra points for Amtrak which are on sale until 2/18/22.
In DC my plan is to meet up with the Rail Passengers Council of Representatives from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. I will propose an interstate passenger rail compact to develop the KC MO to Dallas TX route through NWA. We won’t be able to approve a Compact of course. The idea is that we support each other and coordinate our efforts to bring our states together to make this happen.
At ORBTS we will be juggling several balls at once. I will try to organize a campaign to get all these states together. While working on the sales tax for dedicated funding for ORTA. If ORTA has dedicated funding they can work on multi-model transit stations in connection with a host city.
The Rail Compact will coordinate the states work to upgrade the railroad tracks for higher speed service and apply for the newly available Federal money to initiate passenger rail service. We will model the interstate compact after the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact. You can read about that Compact here: https://ballotpedia.org/Midwest_Interstate_Passenger_Rail_Compact
This will ideally be a Public Private Partnership in which we will bring in an entity such as Brightline or maybe a new company, the previously discussed Travel Rail, to manage the service. Also one of the problems Amtrak has is an agreement with the freight line railroads which the freight lines won’t abide by. We will work to make these private for profit freight line railroads full business partners in this route. They will be paid for track time and space so the passenger trains can run unimpeded.
One way to help bring the freight lines in is to relieve their property taxes in exchange for investing in upgrading the railroads. We can also bring in partners to lay broadband internet cable along rail lines. And we can look for other ways to bring in private investment.
During the Rail Passenger Association conference I will update you on what I find out as I attend meetings and panels. And if I can meet the other Council of Representatives. I’m sure I will. It will be the task of persuading them to work on this together.
In this article we see that there are many opponents to our plan. The fossil fuel industry, highway construction companies, and many others. https://www.railwayage.com/news/why-is-high-speed-rail-such-a-heavy-lift/?fbclid=IwAR0h_guJpErn6fuUpY195dC4tVqy_252lfDEpCF634sRyPlxKWnvvCYTD_E
But if we plan well, engage the right allies, and dig in our heels, we have a very good chance of making this work. Plus I get a mini-vacation. Good times, everyone, good times.