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Speaking at last week’s Northern Flyer Alliance’s Passenger Rail Symposium in Kansas City, Mo., Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo reaffirmed President Obama’s commitment to passenger rail and stressed the need for long-term planning to create market-driven passenger-rail corridors.
With the U.S. population expected to grow by 100 million in the next 40 years, the nation’s economic competiveness in the 21st century will require highways, airports, railways and public transit systems to work together seamlessly in a way that moves people and goods faster and more efficiently, Szabo said at the event, according to a prepared statement.
“Progress doesn’t happen overnight — it becomes a reality after each state lays a solid foundation through good planning and analysis,” he said. “I am pleased to see the planning work currently taking place in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, proving that strong, long-term planning leads to the creation of a market-driven rail plan that benefits communities throughout the corridor.”
With more than $10 billion in funding, the FRA and 32 states are moving forward with 154 High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program projects, laying the foundation for a 21st century passenger-rail network, said Szabo. A total federal investment of $2.5 billion so far has allowed the Midwest to realize “significant improvements” in reliability, trip times, and station development over the last three years, he said.
The symposium enabled public officials, business owners, community leaders and other stakeholders from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas to discuss why the expansion of passenger rail is the most fiscally sound approach to the region’s transportation issues.