Over 100 passenger rail professionals met at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) offices in Washington on 29 November 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. Sessions also covered topics such as Innovative Funding, Finance and P3s, Alternative Service Delivery Models, Strategies for Improving On-Time Performance, and Making the Case through Effective Advocacy.
Attendees heard presentations on pending projects being coordinated through the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, California, Texas, Nevada and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. International developments in Japan, Spain, Germany, and France were highlighted, among others.
The International Union of Railways (UIC), was represented by Vanessa Perez, Advisor of the UIC Passenger Department. Ms Perez presented the work done by the UIC High Speed Committee, as well as a global vision of the high-speed rail systems from around the world. APTA and UIC work closely and envisage different common actions to enhance the exchange of international experience and expertise in this area.
A luncheon presentation by the Heath Hall, Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, emphasised the overarching importance of safety, opportunities to expedite projects via regulatory reform, and the importance of high-performance rail in a balanced transportation system. Attendees also heard from Congressional staff on pending legislative issues, including budget, appropriations, and prospects for a federal infrastructure bill.
In an added side-exhibit, attendees could experience a virtual future trip aboard a California high-speed rail train, and the many destinations that can connect within hours.
The day began with remarks by APTA Chair Nathaniel Ford, Acting President and CEO Richard White, and APTA High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee Chair Anna Barry. Each spoke of the importance of intercity rail in an integrated transportation system that is coordinated and without silos. Speakers also emphasised APTA’s seminal new report “Framework for Assessing the Return on Investment from High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Projects.”