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2022 Summit Schedule

Welcome to the Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit. See the latest Speakers list here.

Summit Registration

$200.00 Registration, in person
$55.00 Registration, virtual
$275.00 Registration with Tuesday Gala Dinner

Tickets for the Gala Dinner are available for spouses and +1s.

1. Go to https://allaboardnw.org/events/greater-northwest-passenger-rail-summit-2022/ and select "Gala Dinner Only (Summit registration not included)”

2. Enter the payment information.

3. A receipt will be displayed, which can be printed. A copy will also be sent by email.

This schedule is tentative and subject to change.

Register Now

Monday, August 22

8:00 - 12:00 noon - Conference room set-up
BSPRA members/volunteers
  • FRA / Build America Bureau Office Hours
    • Funding programs
    • Safety programs
    • Interstate compacts
  • GNW Leadership Meeting
12:00 noon - Registration and Check-in
1:00 pm - Official Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dave Strohmaier, Bill Cole, Norma Gourneau, Amit Bose
  • Welcome: BSPRA Chairman Dave Strohmaier
  • Welcome to Billings: Mayor Bill Cole
  • Tribal welcome: Norma Gourneau, Northern Cheyenne Councilmember
  • Opening keynote: Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Amit Bose
2:00 pm - Session 1: FRA presentation
Lyle Leitelt, Katie List, and Contractor TBD
  • Section 22214 Study
  • Corridor ID Program

Senior Federal Railroad Administration officials will share information on new and ongoing FRA projects and programs to expand and improve passenger rail service.

3:00 pm - Session 2: Transportation Equity
Moderator: Luis Moscoso
  • Jim Mathews, RPA
  • Meredith Richards, RPA
  • John Robert Smith, Transportation for America
  • Anna Zivarts (remote), Disability Mobility Initiative

Passenger rail service in this country is hardly equitable, with most service concentrated in the “Northeast corridor.” This panel will focus on the need to better connect the rest of the country, especially across the vast distances of the West, to the national rail network. Railroads helped build the West, now the people of the West deserve to have the same equity in their ransportation options, including rail service, that most of the rest of the country already enjoys.

4:00 pm - Session 3: Quality of Life impacts/benefits
Moderator: Gary Wirt
  • Tyler Amundson, Executive Director, Big Sky Senior Services, Billings, MT
  • Nate Kavanagh (remote), President, Cut Bank, MT Chamber of Commerce
  • Phil Rico, Mayor of Trinidad, CO
  • Hal Gard, Jacobs
  • Breck Lebegue, WA Physicians for Social Responsibility

This panel will discuss the myriad ways access to passenger rail service can help improve the quality of life for communities serviced by it. From helping improve access to critical healthcare for rural senior citizens, disabled persons and veterans, to providing students another option for transportation to their colleges or back home, to keeping families better connected for the holidays, to reducing traffic fatalities and injuries there are a wide range of quality of life benefits that passenger rail service can bring to local communities.

5:00 pm - Session 4: Tribal impacts/benefits
Moderator: Martin Charlo, CSKT
  • Arlando Teller, USDOT
  • Darrel Hernandez, Oglala Sioux Tribe
  • HollyAnna Littlebull, Yakama Nation

This panel will examine the benefits – economic, social and cultural – to Indian Country of being better connected to passenger rail service, and how access to that service could help uplift and improve the prospects of tribal communities.

6:00 pm - Session 5: Economic impacts/benefits
Moderator: Juan Escano
  • Thomas Freyer, Alberta Regional Rail
  • Jim Mathews, RPA
  • Bruce Agnew, PNWER
  • Laura Shabe, Jacobs
  • Cat Dobbs/Spencer Dodge, HDR

This panel session will examine the numerous ways passenger rail service economically benefits states and local communities, from direct job creation, to increased tourism, to increased opportunities for entrepreneurs, to reducing the costs of infrastructure repair and maintenance, panelists will discuss and explain how investment in passenger rail service is an economic winner.

7:00 pm - Buffet Dinner
  • Screening of In Transit
  • More FRA Office Hours/Q&A
  • Cash bar available

Tuesday, August 23

8:00 am - Breakout Sessions
Mark Quam, Scott Rogers, Dan Bilka, Mike Christensen
  • Breakout #1: Existing Service – Protect, Enhance, Improve
  • Breakout #2: Other Future Routes

The Pioneer and North Coast routes are not the end, only the beginning. These breakout sessions will focus on what people and communities can do to preserve, enhance, and grow the existing services (Empire Builder, California Zephyr, etc) and outline what the real needs are in our region for true connectivity; a true national passenger rail network.

9:00 am - Session 6: 22214 Study Routes
Dave Strohmaier, Elaine Clegg
  • North Coast Limited/Hiawatha Route
  • Pioneer Route
  • Other Routes

This session will take a deep dive into the two former Amtrak routes – the North Coast Hiawatha and the Pioneer – that have already been confirmed to be included in the Section 22214 Study directed by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed by Congress in November 2021, as well as examine other discontinued routes in the Northwest that may also be included in that study. Section 22214 of the IIJA directs the US Department of Transportation to conduct a study of discontinued long-distance rail routes, with a report to be delivered to Congress within two years with its findings and recommendations on which routes Congress should fund the restoration of. Section 22214 also allows exploration of potential new long-distance routes, of which the FRA may address other key potential routes in this session as well as the previous break-out sessions.

(NOTE: If the contractor who will be conducting the Section 22214 study has been selected by FRA in advance of the summit, they will likely be in attendance to collect stakeholder input and to hear input on further stakeholder engagement throughout the 18-month planning process.)

10:00 am - Session 7: Environmental Benefits
Moderator: TBD
  • Tim Gould, Sierra Club of Washington
  • Dava Kaitala, Jacobs
  • Catt Dobbs/Spencer Dodge, HDR
  • Abe Zumwalt, David L. Evans Associates
  • Northern Plains Resource Council

This panel will examine the environmental benefits of expanding America’s passenger rail service and encouraging more Americans to travel by train. Trains have a far lower carbon footprint and create far fewer carbon emissions than automobiles and airplanes, making investment in rail service not just an investment in the nation’s transportation and economic future, but an investment in improving and better protecting our country’s environment and helping mitigate the effects of climate change.

11:00 am - Session 8: Host Railroad Collaboration
Moderator: Barry Green
  • Jim Tylick, BNSF
  • Dava Kaitala, Jacobs
  • Cat Dobbs/Spencer Dodge, HDR
  • Bruce Agnew/Andrew Johnson, PNWER

Panelists in this session will discuss and share success stories and best practices for how passenger rail operators and advocates can work together and successfully collaborate with host railroads to expand and improve passenger rail service.

12:00 noon - Lunch Service
1:00 pm - Session 9: Passenger Rail/Freight Rail Synchronicity
Moderator: TBD
  • Meredith Richards, RPA
  • Dava Kaitala, Jacobs
  • Cat Dobbs/Spencer Dodge, HDR

This panel will focus on tearing down the myth that has built up that passenger rail service and freight rail service are incompatible and somehow diametrically opposed. Panelists will discuss how investment in passenger rail service is also beneficial for freight rail service, and vice versa, and how the US needs to make a firm commitment to make serious investments in its rail infrastructure to improve and expand both freight rail and passenger rail service for a number of reasons, including economic, social, environmental and national defense.

2:00 pm - Session 10: IIJA Analysis and Opportunities
Moderator: Sean Jeans-Gail, RPA
  • Leo Wetula, Build America Bureau
  • Bruce Agnew/Andrew Johnson, PNWER
  • Laura Shabe, Jacobs
  • Alex Khalfin, Amtrak

This session will explore the opportunities for passenger rail investment, improvement and expansion created by the IIJA, commonly known as the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.”

3:00 pm - Session 11: Political/Legal Process of Rail Route Restoration
Moderator: Margie MacDonald, Retired MT State Senator, Billings
  • Karen Hedlund, US Surface Transportation Board
  • Sen. Chris Gorsek, Oregon Senate Rail Caucus (remote)
  • Peter Fletcher, Executive Director, La Crosse Area Planning Committee (remote)
  • Scott Rogers, Vice President, Governmental Affairs, Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce (remote)
  • Jim Mathews, RPA

The final session will discuss how rail policy directed by the IIJA and other legislation actually is put into action on the ground, and the ins and outs of what it takes to actually restore passenger rail routes in the Greater Northwest that haves been out of service for decades.

4:00 pm - Summit Wrap-Up and Calls to Action
BSPRA, AANW, AAWA, AAMN, AORTA, Utah RPA, RPA, chairpersons and top officials present
6:00 pm - Gala Dinner w/keynote speaker and auction at Billings Depot
Meredith Richards, Chair, Rail Passengers Association

Steven Gores, Entertainment

Passed Hors d’oeuvres Course
Duck Pate with Crostini / Candied Bacon

Salad Course
Five Green Salad w. Huckleberry Vinaigrette

Entree Course
Option 1 - 12oz Bison Ribeye with Herbed Butter / Whipped Potatoes / Roasted Asparagus
Option 2 - Rainbow Trout with Butter Crumb
Option 3 - Vegetarian

Dessert Course
New York Cheesecake, Tuxedo-Style