Monday, May 08, 2006

Largest Amtrak expansion in state's history

To members of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association:

Late last week, the Illinois Legislature approved its FY2007 budget.
It includes the largest expansion of Amtrak service in the State's
history.

In round numbers, the budget for intercity passenger rail service will
go from $12.1 million in FY2006 to $24.7 million in FY2007.

The Illinois Department of Transportation still needs to negotiate the
details with Amtrak, BNSF, CN, and the Union Pacific. Here is what we expect
will result from this budget increase:

1) Chicago - Milwaukee: Remains at 7 daily roundtrips.

2) Chicago - Carbondale: Grows from 2 daily roundtrips to 3. Adds a
morning northbound and a morning southbound. (100% increase in state-funded
service)

3) Chicago - Quincy: Grows from 1 daily roundtrip to 2. Adds a morning
westbound and an evening eastbound. (100% increase in state-funded
service)

4) Chicago - St. Louis: Grows from 3 daily roundtrips to 5. Adds a
morning express train southbound and a more reasonable morning departure out of
St. Louis. Also, adds evening trains in both directions. (200%
increase in state-funded service)

The target date for start-up is October 2006.

We had a broad range of support that included universities, local
organizations, and several hundred mayors and other elected officials
statewide. We ended up with a super majority of Senators as cosponsors
and just one Representative shy of unanimous support in the House. I would
especially like to thank our partners the Environmental Law and Policy
Center and the United Transportation Union for making this possible.

I would also like to thank all of you who wrote letters and made phone
calls. Importantly, all of our members made it possible for me to travel to
many downstate cities to get local leaders involved.

If you live in Illinois, call or write your legislators today to thank
them for their support. If you don't live in Illinois, thanks again
for supporting the Association. This is a crucial step towards getting
world-class trains for the entire Midwest.

The next steps are just around the corner. The States have to
formulate comprehensive transportation plans to qualify for federal funding. We
need to get local leaders demanding that train service be included. At the
federal level, the Administration has, once again, suggested cutting Amtrak
funding. The debate over the federal budget is happening right now.

A generous donor has offered a matching grant of $3000 to help us
launch our next campaign. You can help us take advantage of this offer
by going to www.midwesthsr.org/donate right now.

Thanks again for your support!

Rick Harnish
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
PO Box 805877
Chicago, IL 60680
773-334-6758

3 Comments:

Blogger Steven Reed said...

To all the People who want Rail Passenger Service

Over 15 years I worked to help promote and build support for Passenger Rail Service statewide. Now I ask all the people in the thousands who helped to help one more time. I have boxes of information and contacts but it is impossible to get a hold of all of you.

So I ask you to speak out and call your media, your representatives and they say that AMTAK may need some financial help building new depots. Think about starting a drive in your city to help. With articles in every state paper about MODOT and AMTRAK interest in exploring the possibility of adding one daily round-trip route between the two cities, with stops in Lebanon, Rolla, Sullivan and Kirkwood. The possible expansion would not happen for at least a year, MoDOT said in a news release.

“Population and travel is way up in the Springfield/Branson area, and Fort Leonard Wood is very busy as well,” said Brian Weiler, MoDOT multimodal operations director, in the release. “And with highways becoming more congested and fuel costs going up, more people than ever are looking for other ways to travel.”

So now is the time for the people to speak out as loud as possible. For contacts of suggestions people can e-mail me at stevenlloydreed@hotmail.com

Passenger Service could help: relieve unsafe traffic on I-44, give people another way to get to St. Louis since air travel is gone, be cheaper that cars, and be a major help to the economies of each city. The people have said for years they want the service and our government spends billions a year on transportation. It is a market economy alright and the Missouri citizens are a target market and in a Democracy they get to say where scarce resources are used.

Sincerely


Steven L. Reed
1441 S. Estate Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65804

8:39 PM  
Blogger Steven Reed said...

Time for Passenger Rail Service

In 1990 I started an effort to get Passenger Rail Service to southwest Missouri and across the state. During my time at (School) College of the Ozarks they helped some on the effort. After graduation I worked on several attempts to place it on the state ballot. People support the effort all across the state but it is impossible to put an issue on the state ballot unless you have over $100,000 to spend. After 17 years I have 15 boxes of contacts and names of people who want such service. So I am running for Mayor of Springfield and people can find out more about the rail issue by going to www.reedforcouncil.com

MODOT announced last summer that they want such service to help with traffic relief on I-44. They are also lobbying the legislature at this time for help with funding. Such service is wanted and would benefit the downtowns of St. Louis, Rolla, Lebanon, Springfield, and maybe Branson. People all across the state want it but we have no organized lobbying group for such rail service. It is critical people speak out now. Write letters to your local newspapers call your representatives and yell from the tallest mountain!

Steven Reed
1441 S. Estate Ave.
Springfield, MO

7:11 PM  
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