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MEDIA ADVISORY: Rail Passengers Head to Meridian

September 27, 2023

Advocates, Officials Converge in Support for More US Passenger Trains at RailNation in Meridian, Mississippi

For Immediate Release (23-9)
Contact: Madison Butler ([email protected])

Advocates, Officials Converge in Support for More US Passenger Trains at RailNation in Meridian, Mississippi

MERIDIAN, Miss. – Passenger Rail advocates from across the nation are gathering October 6th-8th for RailNation: Meridian, a conference hosted by Rail Passengers Association. The national champion for more trains for more people in more places across the US, Rail Passengers staff will be joined by experts in the field, Amtrak leadership, the Southern Rail Commission, regional Mayors and keynote speaker Federal Railroad Administration Amit Bose. Members, locals, and rail enthusiasts are all encouraged to attend to learn more about passenger rail expansion and how they can strategically support extensions and new service where they live, work, and play.

Rail Passengers Association President and CEO Jim Mathews said the RailNation: Meridian meeting is all about giving advocates practical tools for the work they do, wherever they live.

“It’s important for everyone working across America for more and better trains in their hometowns to be able to see and experience a hometown that has invested big in passenger rail and succeeded,” Mathews said. “Those first-person stories make a huge difference, so our members and supporters will be able to go back home and tell their local elected and appointed leaders about the phenomenal growth and improvement Meridian has seen over the years thanks to their faith in rail.”

With support from local companies including A&B Electric, Mississippi Power, Structural Steel Service, Mississippi First Credit Union, the Association has been able to bring a professional, affordable conference to a small town that bet big on passenger rail. The Meridian Station went through a successful, albeit controversial, improvement thanks to the efforts of their former Mayor, John Robert Smith. A passionate rail advocate and current Chairman of Transportation 4 America, Smith will join Mathews at the close of the event for a “Fireside Chat,” discussing the current rail renaissance brought by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

When asked about the benefits a revitalized station and improved Amtrak service have brought to his hometown of Meridian, John Robert Smith shared his experience.

"Meridian's Union Station creates a valuable transportation choice for every citizen—seniors, young families, our residents with disabilities, those of limited means—but its greatest impact has been to create a sense of place in our downtown that is authentic and compelling. Union Station was essentially a flag planted to say our downtown defines us, and we have a rich story to tell, and the Riley Center Opera House, the MAX, the Threefoot Hotel, and the restored City Hall all followed in the wake of that flag."


About Rail Passengers Association:

The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization serving as a voice for the more than 40 million rail passengers in the U.S. Our mission is to improve and expand conventional intercity and regional passenger train services, support higher speed rail initiatives, increase connectivity among all forms of transportation and ensure safety for our country's trains and passengers. All of this makes communities safer, more accessible, and more productive, improving the lives of everyone who lives, works, and plays in towns all across America.