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The Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit sparks talks about passenger rail service in Boise

Amtrak Acela
Posted at 3:02 PM, Jul 20, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — Boise city representatives and leaders from across the Northwest attended this year's Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit at the historic Boise Train Depot on July 19 and 20, with the goal of restoring a national network for passenger rail through expansion in the region.

Recently, the discussion of passenger railways across the US has been revived after the Biden administration allocated over $60 billion to expand passenger rail infrastructure. The summit in Boise brought together 550 legislators, business leaders, and policymakers to discuss how Idaho and the greater Northwest region could benefit from this funding.

Among the events featured was a presentation titled 'Railroads are a Backbone: Importance of Railroads to PNW Communities' during which speakers outlined the avenues for economic growth and more usable cities which railway development presents. A full copy of the program for the summit is available on the Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit website.

In attendance was Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner, who hosted a breakfast keynote on July 20 regarding the company's vision for passenger rail in the US. Gardner said he was impressed by the enthusiasm and support of local leadership for the project.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean was excited by the prospect, making it clear that the city of Boise is ready to work with Amtrak and the Department of Transportation to make the railway service a reality.

Officials from both Boise and Salt Lake City have their sights set on reviving a line connecting Portland to Salt Lake City through Boise. An application for a study reviewing the costs of this project was submitted by Treasure Valley leaders working with those in Salt Lake City in March.

Amtrak expects to know if the study has been approved by this winter, leaving those in Boise to imagine how passenger train service could shape the valley in the meantime.