April 22, 2022 - TRA Newswire -

The Rail Passengers Association’s Sean Jeans-Gail gave a briefing to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation Committee this week on the economic power of passenger trains. Drawing on the proprietary economic modeling work developed by the association, he demonstrated that it’s not a question of whether passenger trains make money—it’s who the trains make money for.

Jeans-Gail, Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy for the DC-based organization, joined representatives from Representative Henry Cuellar’s (TX-28) office to brief leaders of San Antonio’s business community on how improving Amtrak service in the region would benefit the region’s economy. Citing analysis based on internal Rail Passengers Association economic model and their IMPLAN model, Jeans-Gail explained that passenger trains deliver value to the served communities far beyond the operating costs, with returns on investment of six to seven times the dollars invested in the service. However, the “profit” goes to the communities served, not Amtrak.

Rep. Cuellar’s office briefed the Chamber on new opportunities for passenger rail flowing out of the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law, and gave a status update on the development of the Texas – Oklahoma passenger rail corridor; this Interstate 35 corridor would connect Oklahoma City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Laredo with fast, frequent service, potentially connecting as far as Monterrey, Mexico.

Jeans-Gail was able to provide additional details concerning how the corridor would interact with other network improvements, such as a daily Sunset Limited. The Amtrak Sunset service currently only operates three times a week paralleling the I-10 corridor from California through El Paso, Alpine, Sanderson, Del Rio, San Antonio, Houston and Beaumont toward New Orleans. 

Photo credit: Texas Rail Advocate graphics