July 13, 2023 |
Photo – Passenger Train Meeting – Courtesy Discover Carbon County Facebook
The local tourism group, Discover Carbon County, is sponsoring a passenger train meeting tonight in Rawlins.
As part of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden administration set aside $66 billion to improve passenger rail access across the country. All Aboard North West, or AANW, is a nonprofit passenger rail advocacy group from Washington state. Co-Executive Director of AANW Charlie Hamilton said his organization is holding meetings across the northwest portion of the country to gauge public interest in the potential of rail service returning to their area.
Tonight, Discover Carbon County, formerly known as the Carbon County Visitor’s Council, and the AANW are hosting a meeting in Rawlins titled Returning Passenger Trains to a Station Near You: Why and How. Hamilton said the AANW has a representative on the Federal Rail Administration advisory board.
The representative will bring the information he collects from the conferences, including toight’s meeting, to the next board meeting. Hamilton said the meeting in Rawlins will address the lack of passenger train travel available in Wyoming.
Hamilton said the Federal Railroad Administration is working with Amtrak to perform a Long-Distance Service Study. Hamilton said the report will determine which discontinued passenger rail routes should be brought back into service.
Hamilton said his organization isn’t working to abolish private vehicle use. The AANW director said nearly a third of the county is either unable or unwilling to drive.
Hamilton said expanding passenger rail service would allow people to safely travel when roads are dangerous, such as in the winter.
Hamilton said the Federal Railroad Association will look into using existing tracks where possible. Using his home state of Washington as an example, Hamilton said a government study found that resurrecting a specific dormant rail line would cost upwards of $400 million.
Hamilton said the $420 million price tag may seem high, but he said it was a small part of the $66 billion allocated by the federal government.
Hamilton said the information gathered by the Federal Railroad Association must be presented to Congress by the end of 2023. Once Congress has the study, they will decide what type of action needs to be taken. The AANW director said returning passenger rail service to the country is supported by both Republicans and Democrats.
The Discover Carbon County and All Aboard North West passenger train meeting is 6:00pm tonight at the historic Rawlins City Old Depot at 400 West Front Street. Citizens are encouraged to ask questions and show their support for returning rail travel to the state. The meeting is free to attend.