Buttigieg, Pelosi, Other Leaders Headline U.S. High-Speed Rail Conference

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More than 200 industry, labor, political and academic leaders converged to advance strategies and policies for building a nationwide bullet train network in America.

Highlighted speakers here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, former White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, and other high-profile advocates for high-speed rail headlined the U.S. High Speed Rail annual conference May 14-15 in Washington, D.C. They were among more than 200 industry, labor, political and academic leaders who converged to advance strategies and policies for building a nationwide bullet train network in America.

Conference speakers asserted that America is entering a new era of progress on high-speed rail, following unprecedented investments by the Biden Administration; Brightline West breaking ground on a bullet train from Las Vegas to Southern California last month; major new labor agreements; and federal designation of seven high-speed rail corridors around the country (including Dallas to Houston and Portland-Seattle-Vancouver, BC.)

At the conference, sessions focused on a range of plans to turn high-speed rail into a major mode of transportation in America. Panelists discussed strategies to launch new high-speed rail projects in major regions across the country, massively speed up high-speed rail construction timelines and ensure the initial bullet train projects taking shape in the country successfully demonstrate the sweeping benefits of high-speed rail.

Here’s what some of the leading conference speakers said:

U.S. House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi:
“One of the biggest challenges in our country, at the kitchen table, because of cost, is housing, housing, housing. All over the country. Mass transit and high-speed rail is an answer to that. … If you’re talking clean air, this is an answer. If you’re talking about a measure of job creation, this is an answer. Any subject you can bring up from environmental protection to you name it, high-speed rail and mass transit is an answer to it.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg:
“I’m coming to this increasingly now as a parent. Our twins are two and a half years old. I was on drop-off duty this morning and they have begun — I have no idea why — they’ve been asking me about my work. … I tell them I work on cars, that I work on planes and that I work on trains, and I’m working on making those trains go faster. And one of the things I really love is the thought that they’re two and a half now, and if we hit our marks, they will never know a world without high-speed rail in the United States.”

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla:
“It’s not just about high-speed rail in California, or now with the Brightline project connecting the Los Angeles region to Las Vegas…These are really initial legs in what I think is an eventual national network.”

White House Advisor Mitch Landrieu:
“It really follows a kind of simple motto that the president has — if you invest in the American people, and you invest in building things in America, and you build it from the bottom up and make sure everybody is included, everybody does better.”

Former California Governor Jerry Brown (via video):
“In California, this is something we’ve been working on not just for years, but for decades. It’s not just the product of one politician or one party. We’ve required both Republicans and Democrats. Arnold Schwarzenegger got the ball rolling. Before that, when I was governor for the first time, I’d suggested studies to get the ball rolling with high-speed rail. And now, after my term in office and Gavin Newsom following up, we have a continuity. We have a continuing investment, expressing a strong political will. If you want to do that in other parts of America, that’s what it takes.”

Ray LaHood, former U.S. Transportation Secretary and U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition Co-Chair:
“Without the national government taking the initiative, without the national government in China, Japan, Europe — that’s why they have good trains, comfortable trains, affordable trains. Because the national government set the standard and put forth the money. … If people say to you, ‘How do we get rail?’ You’ve got to have leadership at the top.”

Brightline CEO Mike Reininger:
“Probably one of the most important end results of this program is, it is the beginning of an industry. This is where the next one and the next one and the next one start. And so the expertise, whether it’s construction expertise or technological expertise, is really going to be put to the test in this program. It will make the second, third and fourth ones easier.”

Amtrak HSR SVP Andy Byford
“California is making great strides, and Brightline is making superb progress and people have said, ‘Well, hang on a minute, where’s Amtrak in all of this?’ … These things start small — seeds that develop into large oaks — but we are putting together Amtrak’s national strategy as America’s railroad.”

U.S. High Speed Rail CEO Andy Kunz:
“The recent federal investments are a huge boost to American high-speed rail. But let’s not kid ourselves. We’re going to need hundreds of billions of dollars and major policy reforms to develop a high-speed rail network worthy of our great country…The U.S. High Speed Rail Association and our growing advocacy coalition are laser-focused on addressing these challenges and seizing the historic opportunities before us.

Other speakers included: Rod Diridon, U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition Co-Chair and Chairman Emeritus, Mineta Transportation Institute; U.S. Representatives Jim Costa, Seth Moulton, Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen; Amit Bose, head of the Federal Railroad Administration; Roger Millar, Washington State Transportation Secretary; Terry Hynes, Senior Counsel, Sidley Austin, LLP; Philippe Lorand, Senior Advisor, UIC (France); Maria Luisa Dominguez, Board Advisor, ADIF (Spain).

For more conference information, go to https://hsr2024.com/. Zoom recordings of conference sessions can be accessed via these links: Attend by Zoom

Day 1a:

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Day 1b:

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Day 2a:


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The U.S High Speed Rail Coalition mobilizes leading labor unions, companies, and public servants to advance investments and policies that are making high-speed rail a reality in America. The Coalition has aggressively advocated for funding for Brightline West, California High Speed Rail, and other key projects in recent years.

SOURCE US High Speed Rail Association, via PRNewswire

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