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News Room
​​​​​​​​​​Media Contact:
Maggie Kasperski, Director of Marketing and Communications,


News Room

AASHTO has a number of experts who can discuss high-speed rail in the United States, including state DOT directors who are actively engaged in this issue. To set up an interview, contact Maggie Kasperski, Director of Marketing and Communications,

June 2015 Issue of SPEEDLINES Available

Published in cooperation with the American Public Transportation​ Association and distributed through the HSIRC, this month's issue​ features articles on the changing nature of the state supported trains as well as the upcoming World Congress on High Speed Rail in July.

AMTRAK Ridership Continues to Grow

AMTRAK Cascades continues to see strong ridership (June 2012)

Over the past 17 years, Amtrak Cascades has achieved an average growth of 9.5% per year as funding partners keep adding more capacity and improving on-time performance. In 2011, nearly 850,000 passengers rode Amtrak Cascades. Below consists of the Ridership chart, and the numbers:


AASHTO Press Releases

Presentations on passenger rail, including those related to economic development, P3s, innovations, equipment, and railroad agreements from the 2011 meeting of the Standing Committee on Rail Transportation, held in Charlotte, NC, are now available at 2011Charlotte.aspx.

$590 Millions in Passenger Rail Upgrades Will Benefit Washington State and Nation, Says DOT Secretary (Video)
(March 18, 2011) In a new Two-Minute State DOT Update video, Washington State DOT Secretary Paula Hammond, chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Leadership Group, discusses the new agreement her agency signed with Amtrak, Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad, and the Federal Railroad Administration to contractually obligate $590 million in federal grant funds.

New Specs for Locomotives Will Mean Lower Costs for Passenger Rail
(March 16, 2011) New specifications for diesel-electric locomotives were approved today by the Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee, the next step in a national effort to make it easier, faster, and cheaper to build and purchase rail cars and other equipment for America's emerging high-speed and intercity passenger rail program. Any state using federal funds for its passenger rail program must use equipment that meets these specifications.

Getting Real on Rail: An Interview with the Administrator of the FRA
(October 22, 2010) In an exclusive interview with Transportation TV, FRA Administrator Joe Szabo puts the nation's rail system into perspective. During the interview, Szabo addressed the current and future challenges facing freight rail in America and spoke candidly about the difficulties some high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects are facing.


AASHTO Journal

AASHTO Letter Supports House T&I Passenger Rail Reauthorization Proposal
AASHTO Journal (September 19, 2014)
​The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials this week sent a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership expressing support for the committee's passenger rail authorization bill.

House T&I Leadership Introduces Bipartisan Passenger Rail Reauthorization
AASHTO Journal (September 12, 2014)
​House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders on Thursday, Sept. 11, introduced the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2014, or PRRIA (H.R. 5449).

Amtrak Calls for Greater Federal Investment in FY 2015 Congressional Budget Request
AASHTO Journal (March 21, 2014)
Amtrak this week sent Congress its fiscal year 2015 budget request, asking for greater investment to keep the Northeast Corridor infrastructure from experiencing expensive and damaging failure in the future.

Caltrans, Illinois DOT Announce Next Milestone in Next Generation Locomotives
AASHTO Journal (March 21, 2014)
California and Illinois Departments of Transportation announced this week they have officially chosen Siemens to manufacture more than 30 high-performance, diesel-electric next generation locomotives.

Amtrak, California HSR Authority Request Bids to Build High-Speed Trainsets
AASHTO Journal (January 31, 2014)
Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority last week announced a request for proposals for new "modern, state-of-the-art high-speed trainsets," which both groups say are vital in meeting both short-term needs for Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor and the long-term vision for both the Authority and Amtrak.

States, Amtrak Reach Rail Agreements
AASHTO Journal (October 18, 2013)
All 19 states required to come to an agreement with Amtrak regarding state control and funding of passenger rail routes have done so on schedule, states and Amtrak reported this week.

Amtrak Reports Record Ridership in Fiscal Year 2013
AASHTO Journal (October 4, 2013)
For the fourth straight year, Amtrak experienced record-breaking ridership, carrying 31.6 million passengers during fiscal year 2013, which ran Oct. 1, 2012 through Sept. 20, 2013. Those numbers include a record 15.4 million passengers on its state-supported corridors, a 2.2 percent increase in ridership which led to a 4.4 percent increase in ticket revenue.

States Making Progress in Agreements with Amtrak
AASHTO Journal (October 4, 2013)
North Carolina Department of Transportation officials announced last week the department has come to an agreement with Amtrak, ensuring the continuation of two of its passenger rail operations. The agreement comes in response to federal law that requires Amtrak and states to develop cost-sharing agreements to continue state-supported passenger rail service in corridors under 750 miles (excluding the Northeast Corridor).

Amtrak Customers Can Track their Trains with New Train Locator Map
AASHTO Journal (October 4, 2013)
Amtrak customers can now track the location of their trains, getting a live look at where their trains are and when they are expected to arrive.

Railroads Need Flexibility in Hitting Positive Train Control Deadline, GAO Report Finds
AASHTO Journal (September 20, 2013)
The U.S. Government Accountability Office last month issued a report on the status of positive train control (PTC) implementation, finding that railroads need some flexibility in meeting the 2015 deadline.

AASHTO Urges Amtrak to Complete Passenger Rail Agreements with States
AASHTO Journal (September 13, 2013)
With a federally mandated deadline of Oct. 16 fast approaching, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials this week urged Amtrak and the state DOTs to quickly complete negotiations over capital investments and operations along state-supported intercity passenger rail corridors. AASHTO recognizes the commitment that states have made in negotiating in good faith to complete agreements with Amtrak to sustain service in all the state-supported corridors.

California High-Speed Rail Gets Final Approval from Surface Transportation Board
AASHTO Journal (June 21, 2013)
The Surface Transportation Board last week registered final approval for the first section of California's high-speed rail system. The approval allows the California High-Speed Rail Authority to begin construction on that segment, which runs the 65 miles from Merced to Fresno. STB Vice Chair Ann Begeman dissented from the decision, citing concerns with project costs and a desire to look at the project more closely.

House T&I Rail Subcommittee Chair Holds Field Hearing on California High-Speed Rail
AASHTO Journal (May 31, 2013)
California's high-speed rail project was the center of a field hearing in Madera, Calif., on Tuesday, when House Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA) brought together a panel to discuss the issue.

House T&I Rail Subcommittee Talks Federal Role in Long-Distance Rail Routes
AASHTO Journal (May 24, 2013)
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials convened several rail experts in a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday to discuss "cost drivers" for passenger rail.

Amtrak CEO Receives Contract Extension, Praise for Success
AASHTO Journal (May 24, 2013)
Amtrak's Board of Directors announced this week that it has extended the contract of current President and CEO Joe Boardman, whom the board credits for Amtrak's growing success. Boardman's contract extension is valid for another two years.

New Informational Piece Available on Next Generation Equipment Committee
AASHTO Journal (February 15, 2013)
The Next Generation Equipment Committee released this week a new informational brochure to highlight its achievements, show the benefits it has produced, clearly identify how it is organized, and talk about its overall success. The four-page document offers a concise, comprehensive view of NGEC.

State DOT CEOs Throw Support behind Nation's High-Speed Rail Program during T&I Hearing
AASHTO Journal (December 7, 2012)
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure yesterday heard from state DOT leaders who believe the nation's high-speed rail program has benefited their states, and that the program needs ongoing federal funding.

Amtrak Downeaster Celebrates Launch of Expanded Service in Maine
AASHTO Journal (November 9, 2012)
Transportation officials, Amtrak representatives, elected officials, and community members all gathered last week to celebrate the launch of Amtrak's new expanded Downeaster service to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine, with an inaugural ride from Boston.

LaHood Praises Merits of High-Speed Rail Before Skeptical House T&I Committee
AASHTO Journal (December 9, 2011)
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Republican members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee clashed Tuesday over the nation's high-speed-rail program during a T&I hearing regarding "The Federal Railroad Administration's High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program: Mistakes and Lessons Learned."

15 States & Amtrak Receive $2 Billion in Grants Given Up by Florida
AASHTO Journal (May 13, 2011)
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Monday $2 billion in high-speed-rail awards to speed up trains along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor; expand service in the Midwest; and provide new, state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars as part of the Obama administration's plan to transform travel in America.

Illinois & North Carolina Reach Agreements to Proceed with Construction
AASHTO Journal (March 25, 2011)
Two new rail agreements valued at $1.1 billion were approved by the Federal Railroad Administration this week. They are expected to significantly improve and expand passenger rail in Illinois and North Carolina while bolstering local economies.


Federal Government Information

More than 90% of Federal funding has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. As of December 1, 2011, $9.2 billion has been approved for 145 projects in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Amtrak. (Link to Information)


Other News Sources

Amtrak's Milwaukee-Chicago service sets ridership record
The Business Journal of Milwaukee
Amtrak's Hiawatha service passenger rail line between Milwaukee and Chicago set a ridership record in 2012, with daily round-trips serving 832,500 passengers, according to a Monday news release from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. In 2011 ...
See all stories on this topic »

Amtrak stations mapped by ridership
Greater Greater Washington
It's common knowledge that the Northeast Corridor is Amtrak's best line, but the northeast is not the only place in the US where a lot of people ride intercity trains. This map by Michael Hicks shows that California, the area around Chicago, and the ...
See all stories on this topic »

Amtrak's Downeaster Ready to Roll Northway to Freeport and Brunswick
Link to Washington Post article

Amtrak Scores Impressive Illinois Ridership Gains
Link to Crain's Chicago Business article

Surging Amtrak Ridership Sets 11 Consecutive Monthly Records
Link to Amtrak press release

On Thursday September 6, 2012 – FRA & AASHTO held their monthly conference call to update states on activities with the FRA programs.  In addition, discussion was held regarding state rail planning guidance.  Link to the slides from the presentation

Construction Under Way to Restore Passenger Rail Service in Massachusetts' "Knowledge Corridor'
Link to article in Progressive Railroading

Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc: "X" Train Acquires First Passenger Train Railcar Set
Link to news release

Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority CEO Patricia Quinn Testifies Before House T&I Committee.
Link to Live Webcast
Link to Testimony and Hearing Info

AASHTO Passenger Rail Report released. (Link to Report)

First Multistate Order for Standardized Rail Cars Will Help Boost American Manufacturers (Link to Story)

California's Bay Area plans to split $1.5Billion cost to supercharge rail line (Link to story)

Amtrak CEO: New rail tunnels to New York critical (Link to story)

Freeport, Brunswick train platforms debut for Amtrak Downeaster (Link to story)

Oregon and Washington State join in rail operations, passenger rail service on ideal track (Link to story)

FRA conducts presentation on communicating performance: 5/3/12 (Link to p​resentation)

Consultant, Professor look to bring high-speed rail training to UNLV
Tom Skancke and Harry Teng look to develop Program aimed to research and study high-speed rail.

Amtrak asks Government for less Federal Operating Support

The full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing entitled "FRA's Highspeed Intercity Passenger Rail Program: Mistakes and Lessons Learned," Secretary LaHood Defends High-Speed Rail Program. Link to Story, Sec LaHood's Testimony, NARP President's Testimony, Sec LaHood's Response to The Hearing

Amtrak North Dakota depot booms with oil patch passengers

California bullet train board approves environmental studies

Chowchilla builder commits $1 Billion for high-speed rail facilities

Ground Breaks to eliminate major bottleneck in Missouri

High-Speed Rail work resumes in Illinois

Amtrak Hiawatha Line breaks ridership record

Vermont track improvements result in faster passenger service

VIDEO: Washington State Receives $590 Million for High-Speed Rail

Viewpoints: Case for high-speed rail grows only stronger

NGEC Chair Bill Bronte's Letter to the Editor, Trains Magazine

Governors of both parties agree: Rail is vital to N.C.'s future

US DOT Announces $562.9 Million Amtrak Loan for 70 Locomotives to Run on Northeast Corridor

AASHTO Statement on House T&I Committee's Call for "New Direction" for Northeast Corridor Passenger Rail Services

New Specs for Locomotives Will Mean Lower Costs for Passenger Rail