Amtrak officials aren’t put off by proposals to offer another passenger train service in Iowa and across the Midwest. According to Amtrak spokesman Mark Magliari, it could even be Amtrak trains that provide the high-speed rail service on the Iowa Interstate Railroad which was discussed in a DOT report last week. Magliari says the Association of American Railroads has said it’d rather deal with one company nationally, other than some local-area commuter services, and the one major national passenger railroad it’d like to deal with is Amtrak. Magliari says Amtrak has seen impressive passenger numbers recently showing a resurgence of interest in rail travel.Magliari says the railroad has seen two record years in a row, 24-Million the year before last and 25-Million riders last year. Magliari says the federal and state governments together need to create and implement a system to fund passenger rail service. He says Congress needs to create the same kind of transportation matching funding program for passenger rail that it has for airways, waterways and highways. Magliari sees the upcoming congressional session as an important opportunity to expand passenger rail service. This year he says members of Congress can take a “less political and more policy look at issues” since there are no big elections. Last week’s DOT report indicated the plan for expanded regional high speed rail service would cost nearly 8 billion dollars. High-speed passenger trains would use existing freight rails, upgraded to handle higher-speed trains than the Amtrak passenger trains currently in use. Backers say high-speed passenger trains got renewed interest after recent airline tragedies. The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative is a multi-state effort involving three-thousand miles of high-speed passenger rail service and the states of Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
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