NARP Unveils Proposal for More Extensive Passenger and Freight Rail Network

NARP marks 40th anniversary with call for renewed federal/state commitment to the nation’s rail system

Washington, D.C., June 25, 2007 – With the average price of gas expected to top $4 per gallon in the near future, and travelers facing gridlock on the roads and in the skies, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) on its 40th anniversary today outlined a vision to strengthen America and provide people with more transportation choices.  NARP’s proposal will expand and modernize the country’s intercity rail system, helping to reduce both the nation’s carbon emissions and its dependence on oil and facilitating the efficient movement of people and goods. 

NARP, the largest national membership advocacy organization for train and rail transit passengers, is calling on America to adopt a nationwide “grid and gateway” train network.

The gateways are major terminals, in many cases served by short- and medium-distance higher frequency and higher speed services, and the grid is an expanded national passenger train network connecting all major metropolitan areas. The vision also includes a dramatic improvement in linkages between airports and intercity rail, a concept where the U.S. lags as far behind Europe as in passenger rail development generally.  A map of the proposed “grid and gateway” network and information on its benefits are available here on our website.

“In the near future, road and air congestion, worldwide competition for oil, and growing environmental concerns will make $4 a gallon gas seem cheap, today’s traffic jams modest, and affordable flights a distant memory,” said George Chilson, president of NARP. “Modernizing our rail network through a public-private partnership in which the federal government takes the lead is one of the most effective things we can do today to ensure our quality of life tomorrow. The U.S. is falling further behind the rest of the world in building a modern rail system. We know what is coming. We have an obligation to act now before it is too late.”

NARP’s goal is to have a nationwide “grid and gateway” system fully in place in the next 40 years, which can be achieved by utilizing existing resources.  Public policy should:

  • Incorporate existing services, rail lines, and rights of way as well as corridor proposals already underway by states, localities, and freight railroads into a comprehensive national system;
  • Upgrade bottlenecks and capacity-constrained corridors already identified as causing congestion for passenger and freight rail; and
  • Support and enable future high-speed service in the most heavily traveled corridors.

According to Ross Capon, executive director of NARP, “Increasing the federal commitment to a national network will make rail service more attractive to shippers and travelers – giving people a safe, convenient, affordable, environmentally sound and energy-efficient alternative to flying and driving.  It is in the national interest for the U.S. to get started now on a serious expansion of rail that is long overdue.”

Over the past 40 years, efforts by NARP’s members have not only fought off attempts to eliminate Amtrak funding, but have resulted in improvements to rail travel in the U.S. including increased attention to on-time performance by passenger and freight railroads, better-designed equipment and amenities on Amtrak trains, and new or reintroduced passenger rail corridors in Maine, California, Illinois, Washington and elsewhere.

About NARP

NARP is the largest national membership advocacy organization for train and rail transit passengers. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by over 23,000 individual members.