News & Reviews News Wire Big Sky passenger organization receives $150,000 grant

Big Sky passenger organization receives $150,000 grant

By Trains Staff | November 13, 2023

Funds will support study of track projects to improve rail lines for freight and passenger service

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Logo of Big Sky Passenger Rail AuthorityBILLINGS, Mont. — The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority has received a $150,000 grant to support its efforts to revive Amtrak service on Montana’s “southern tier” route, as well as other rail projects in a five-state region in the Pacific Northwest.

The Missoula Current news site reports the grant was awarded by the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Foundation and its Regional Infrastructure Accelerator, which aims to help bring public-private project partnerships to the area as part of the foundation’s efforts to foster collaboration and coordination across state lines and other jurisdictional boundaries. The grant will help fund analysis of track improvements that could benefit freight and passenger traffic, as well as making an economic case for reviving Amtrak’s small parcel delivery service as an economic driver for rural and tribal communities along passenger lines in Montana.

“These funds will further our work both in southern Montana and also along the Empire Builder [route[, to the benefit of both freight and passenger operations,” Dave Strohmaier, chairman of the rail authority, told the Current. “This is a great example of how working together at a regional scale, with the sweat equity and financial support of partners, is moving this train down the tracks.”

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority was founded in 2020 by a group of 12 counties to promote efforts to return Amtrak service to communities including Billings, Bozeman, Butte, and Missoula, on the route once served by the North Coast Hiawatha. That train was discontinued in 1979.

3 thoughts on “Big Sky passenger organization receives $150,000 grant

  1. Grasp at straws much? Amtrak parcel delivery? Amtrak doesn’t carry, let alone deliver, parcels. Not even on routes with multiple daily frequencies. FedEx, Amazon, and USPS seem to be doing a bang-up job at it, both the carrying and the last-mile delivery to the doorstep.

    The Northern Pacific Railroad was built East to West, Superior or MSP on the east, to Washington State on the west. Parcels go from everywhere to everywhere.

    Like it or not, America is covered with gargantuan Amazon warehouses each of
    which consume concrete, steel, electricity, diesel fuel, and other resources by the planet-load. A metro area the size of Denver might have five or six or seven. All that without Amtrak carrying a single parcel a single mile.

    The world is changing (not necessarily for the better). Do you know that Milwaukee’s newspaper is printed in central Illinois. How do you think it gets each day to the several newspaper distributions centers in Wisconsin. Not by Amtrak.

    1. The NY Times for the Chicago area is (was) printed at the Tribune Freedom Center on Ontario Street. Has been for some 25-30 years.

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