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Amtrak proposes network expansion with a new train route from Chicago to Miami, with stops in Nashville, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Orlando, and possibly Tampa

Amtrak is considering a significant expansion that includes a proposed train route connecting Chicago to Miami. This development is part of a broader initiative by the Federal Railroad Administration, which has identified 15 new long-distance routes to potentially more than double Amtrak's current network by adding over 23,000 miles. The proposed Chicago to Miami route would serve major cities such as Indianapolis, Nashville, Atlanta, and Orlando.


Amtrak proposes network expansion with a new train route from Chicago to Miami, with stops in Nashville, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Orlando, and possibly Tampa

In response to the proposal, Tampa Union Station has actively sought inclusion in the expanded network. Station President Brandie Miklus emphasized Tampa's growing population and its status as a major transit hub in a letter dated Feb. 28, urging federal authorities and the public to support the city's case for connectivity by March 8. Miklus pointed out Tampa Bay's rapid growth, its high ridership on the Silver Star service, and its strong Midwest ties as compelling reasons for the expansion.

The Federal Railroad Administration's route selection process revisited previously discontinued services, including the Champion line that linked St. Petersburg with New York City until 1979.


However, realizing these long-distance expansions requires significant financial investment for both construction and operation, pending approval and funding from the U.S. Congress.


Amtrak proposes network expansion with a new train route from Chicago to Miami, with stops in Nashville, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Orlando, and possibly Tampa

In a related development, Florida was awarded $500,000 last year to explore an enhanced rail link between Orlando and Tampa, a study likely to benefit Brightline's ambitions to extend its service along Interstate 4. While Brightline, a Miami-based private rail company, has not yet secured federal capital subsidies for this expansion, it is positioned to tap into a $3 billion federal fund earmarked for rail projects, which also supported its western route from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles suburbs.

Additionally, Hillsborough County's request for state funds could provide Brightline with $50 million for its Tampa extension, further bolstering the company's expansion efforts in Florida.


 

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