FRA Releases Midwest Passenger Rail Plan

The Federal Railroad Administration on Wednesday released an ambitious plan for intercity rail passenger service expansion in the Midwest.

The Midwest Regional Rail Plan calls for a network of high-speed trains serving four core corridors linking Chicago with Indianapolis, Detroit, St. Louis, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

These core routes would have a series of connecting regional lines. Service on the core routes would be 24 trains a day while the regional lines would feature 15 trains a day.

The plan envisions all routes being integrated with public transit systems. Ridership is projected to reach 17 million annual trips by 2055 if all routes and connections are developed.

FRA deputy administrator Amit Bose discussed the plan at a news conference on Wednesday at Chicago Union Station.

He and others then boarded an Amtrak Wolverine Service train to attend the annual Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission meeting in Detroit.

An FRA news release described the plan as the culmination of a cooperative effort involving the agency and MIPRC, and developed in partnership with 12 state departments of transportation, as well as Amtrak, freight railroads, transit organizations, councils of government, metropolitan planning organizations, chambers of commerce, regional railroads and advocacy groups.

Amtrak’s Midwest network currently has routes linking Chicago with Milwaukee; Quincy, Illinois; St. Louis; Carbondale, Illinois; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Port Huron, Michigan; and Detroit (Pontiac).

Another route links St. Louis and Kansas City. Service on all corridors is funded by the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri.

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