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Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority updates timeline for Montana passenger rail service

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority has updated its passenger rail timeline
Proposed Northwestern Passenger Rail Lines
Posted at 6:05 AM, Mar 14, 2024

MISSOULA — The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority (BSPRA) held a board meeting on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, where they unveiled an updated timeline for the passenger rail line that would serve Montana.

Originally, the goal was that trains would be running with passengers onboard by 2030. But according to a Federal Rail Association (FRA) and Amtrak’s long-term study, there won't see any trains in operation until at least 2039.

And even with that 2039 date, it’s just the first expected completion of one of 15 proposed lines.

BSPRA Vice Chair Jason Stuart announced this new timeline after attending the FRA's meeting regarding the long-term study’s results and anticipated timeline.

“They put the expected completion of the first of any of these routes, at least 15 years out. And not having the network completed until 2060 plus”.

The line serving southern Montana is expected to be high up on the list, although the entirety of the when each project will begin, and end, is still unknown.

The board members of rail authorities who attended the meeting expressed their disappointment at this timeline. The BSPRA sent a comment urging the FRA to expedite the current ongoing study looking into the proposed rail line to finish by 2036.

The board remains in high hopes, however, as Missoula was chosen to host the fourth and final FRA meeting discussing the larger project of the 15 proposed new lines. The board’s members said that it “was a great honor” to be chosen for this meeting.

BSPRA Chairman David Strohmaier finished the meeting by reemphasizing the progress that has been made on the project.

He reminded the board members and public alike that Montana deserves a passenger rail line and that “the train has already left the station!”