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Treasure Valley leaders discuss Northwest passenger train system that would connect us to cities near and far

If you’ve ever wanted to travel by train from Boise to SLC, that could be a reality in the next 10 years.
Posted at 3:55 PM, Jul 20, 2023

NAMPA, Idaho — When it comes to daily transportation in the Treasure Valley, traveling by train isn’t the first or maybe even the last thought on people's minds.

Although, in comparison to every other country, the United States has the largest railroad system.

Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner speaking at Thursday’s Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit in downtown Boise.

“By 50 thousand route miles more than China, we have the largest network by far,” says Gardner.

Conversations between many local officials are taking place in hopes of connecting cities like Salt Lake to Boise, as well as cities in Montana, via passenger trains.

“[Trains would] connect our college students to different educational opportunities, it connects our residents to family, whether it be in Mountain Home, Caldwell, Shoshone, Pocatello, and ultimately Salt Lake,” says Boise Mayor Lauren McLean.

Plans to reconnect passengers through the valleys are still in the early stages. Transportation officials are optimistic that congress and the US Department of Transportation will support the development in the coming months.

“How long is it going to take to build it? How long will the trip time be? How much money is necessary to achieve the outcome? That’s all coming in this next phase of planning once the Department makes its decisions,” says Gardner.

Idaho’s growing population is one of the main reasons why passenger trains are making a comeback.

The Idaho Transportation Department and Amtrak's goal is to improve our railroad system in the next decade so we can be better connected to other Northwest cities.