Quick Passenger Rail Updates

June 21, 2021

1. For Minnesota specifically - $10M is now included in the House Omnibus Transportation bill - the operating fund - for the 2nd Train. It passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Saturday June 19, 2021. This is a major development as initially only $3M was included in this bill. Rep Gene Pewlowski and Senator Jerry Miller in Winona expressed optimisim that the funding will pass. The bill now goes to the Senate - we will keep you posted. We thought our main chance for funding the 2nd train would be in the bonding bill. The legislature needs to approve the budget by June 30 to avoid a government shutdown.

2. Amtrak is refurbishing the Superliner fleet and restoring traditional dining car service on Western trains. All Superliner 1, and 2 series will get refreshed interiors, seats, carpets, drapes, etc. and the entire program is expected to take approximately three years. Freshly prepared meals along with new menus will appear on Western trains June 23, 2021. The program will extend to Eastern long hauls within three to four months according to Amtrak. Both programs are very long overdue. Per a ride on the Southwest Chief this month, which had a mixture of Superliner 1, and 2 equipment, all cars were extremely tired and worn out looking. Click here to read more and view pictures of the refurbished equipment:https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/6/15/22533534/amtrak-upgrades-long-distance-trains-union-station-dining-cars-sleepers

3. US Senate committee approves bipartisan $78 billion rail and transportation safety bill. The Senate Commerce Committee approved a bipartisan $78 billion transportation funding bill on Wednesday designed to boost the competitiveness of the nation’s freight networks, improve its passenger rail system and make highways safer. The five-year bill includes $25 billion for passenger rail, mostly as grants to Amtrak. Click here to read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2021/06/16/senate-road-rail-transportation-bill/