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APTA High-Speed Rail Forum Notes Progress and the Path Forward

More than 100 passenger rail professionals gathered at the APTA offices Nov. 29 to discuss strategies for advancing high-speed and intercity passenger rail in North America.

In a forum titled “Getting to a Tipping Point for High-Performance Passenger Rail,” domestic and international passenger rail service providers described new developments and service improvements.

Attendees were briefed on pending projects being coordinated through the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, California, Texas, Nevada and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, along with international developments in Japan, Spain, Germany and France.

Vanessa Perez represented the International Union of Railways (UIC), the global association of high-speed rail systems. APTA works closely with UIC to share experience and expertise in an international forum.

A luncheon presentation by FRA Acting Administrator Heath Hall emphasized the overarching importance of safety, opportunities to expedite projects via regulatory reform and the need for high-performance rail as part of a balanced transportation system. Attendees also heard from congressional staff on pending legislative issues including budget, appropriations and prospects for a federal infrastructure bill.

Speakers at the APTA High-Speed Rail Policy Forum included, from left, APTA Acting President & CEO Richard White; Anna Barry, chair of the APTA High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee; and APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.

Photo by Mitchell Wood

In an added side exhibit, attendees could experience a virtual future trip aboard a California high-speed rail train and the many destinations that line can connect within hours.

The day began with remarks by APTA Chair Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Acting President and CEO Richard White and Anna Barry, chair of the APTA High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee, who stressed the importance of intercity rail in a coordinated and integrated transportation system without silos.

Ford emphasized that high-speed rail is part of the new mobility paradigm he has identified as one of the priorities of his term of service, saying the association is working to find new ways to work as a unified, integrated transportation system.

White referenced the APTA study Framework for Assessing the Return on Investment from High-Speed and Intercity Rail Projects, which he said provides a consistent methodology for quantifying and monetizing the social and economic benefits of passenger rail corridor investments.
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