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ProRail Nebraska

ProRail Nebraska -- Nebraska's Association of Railroad Passengers and Supporters













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Welcome to ProRail Nebraska

Dedicated to supporting and advocating for railroad service 
in the State of Nebraska.


Commuter Rail - Light Rail - Intercity Rail

We're Helping Get Nebraska On Track!

ProRail Nebraska Meetings  

Next Members Meeting: The next membership meeting is scheduled for 

Saturday, April 8, 2017. Meeting Sponsor:  UNO Department of History

Where: University of Nebraska - Omaha - Milo Bail Student Center Chancellor's Room on the east end of the 2nd Floor  Time: 9:00am to about Noon   (Refreshments - 8:30am)  

Click here for driving, parking, and transit directions for the meeting.

Next Board Meeting: Saturday, March 11, 9:00 am 

at St. Mark's on the Campus, 1309 R Street, Lincoln

For more information call Bob Kuzelka (402) 417-9424 (Lincoln) email

All ProRail Nebraska meetings are open to the general public!

If you can't attend in person, a conference phone line may be available.

If interested, please contact Bob Kuzelka 402-417-9424

November 2016 ProRail Newsletter Posted Online

Click here to view a PDF copy of the newsletter.

Megabus to resume Omaha-to-Chicago route, add Lincoln stop

Omaha World Herald - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Megabus typically loads at sidewalk stops like along

the west side of 72nd St at Crossroads Mall in Omaha

Megabus is back, by popular demand.

The bus line will restore service to Chicago from Omaha and cities across Iowa, and will for the first time add service from Lincoln. It's doing so by partnering with Carroll, Iowa, bus operator Windstar Lines.

Service will begin March 1, with one trip daily in each direction between Lincoln and Chicago, with stops in Omaha, Des Moines, Iowa City and Moline, Illinois, another new city on the route. Additional trips may be added on weekends and holidays.

Windstar will manage bus operations, but passengers will book tickets at New Jersey-based Megabus, which touts low prices, said it would celebrate the launch by selling 500 seats for $1 apiece in the first week of service. One-way ticket prices will typically range from $1 to $75 between Lincoln and Chicago, and from $1 to $69 between Omaha and Chicago, Megabus said.

From Chicago, travelers can make connections to the larger Megabus network, serving more than 120 cities.

The bus will leave Lincoln from near the Amtrak station, on the west side of Pinnacle Arena Drive at Q Street. In Omaha, the bus will leave from Crossroads Mall at 72nd and Dodge Streets, the same stop served before. The bus departs Lincoln at 11 a.m.; return trips arrive at 9 p.m. It departs Omaha at 12:05 p.m.; return trips arrive at 7:55 p.m. The bus arrives in Chicago at 8:50 p.m. and departs at 11 a.m.

Click here to view the full article.

ProRail - Your Voice Before the Nebraska Legislature

Testimony in Support of LB 339

Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

Submitted on Behalf of ProRail Nebraska

January 30, 2017  

TO: Members of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee

RE: LB 339 - Merge the Department of Aeronautics into the Department of Roads and rename as the Department of Transportation

First, I want to thank Senator Friesen for introducing LB 339. My appreciation is also extended to the rest of this committee for their work on behalf of the citizens of Nebraska.

I am here today representing ProRail Nebraska and have just a few short comments. This non-profit advocacy group focuses on increased passenger rail services as well as other public transportation options within the state.

For some time, one of the objectives of our organization has been advocating for the creation of a Nebraska Department of Transportation. This has been one of our objectives because we recognize that fully integrating all forms of transportation into one department benefits the citizens of Nebraska. Transportation by road, air, rail, and river all play a part in ensuring the future success of our state, but currently there is no agency in Nebraska tasked with coordinating all of these transportation modes to assure the best mix and greatest value to our citizens.

Please vote to advance LB339 from your committee.

Thank You.  

Matthew Roque, President

ProRail Nebraska

Iowa Pacific withdraws from Hoosier State Train service

Progressive Railroading - January 31, 2017


Amtrak's Hoosier State at Dyer, IN Aug. 9, 2015

(Photo: Russel John Sekeet)

Amtrak will take over the Hoosier State passenger-rail service from Iowa Pacific Holdings starting March 1, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced yesterday.

Iowa Pacific has operated the state train under an agreement with INDOT and Amtrak since July 2015. The railroad company "notified INDOT that it would soon be unable to continue providing passenger train equipment and onboard services under the terms of the existing contract," INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said in an email.

"INDOT and Iowa Pacific came to mutual agreement to transition the service between Feb. 28 and March 1," he said.

Ridership and revenue have exceeded Amtrak's projections for the Hoosier State, which operates between Indianapolis and Chicago, Wingfield said.

The service will transition to Amtrak rail cars, locomotives and onboard services starting March 1. Amtrak crews will continue to operate the service, Wingfield said. He told the Lafayette Journal & Courier that Iowa Pacific wanted more money than was budgeted under the contract.

"We are certainly grateful to INDOT for providing the opportunity to demonstrate that service enhancements can drive improvements in customer satisfaction, revenue and ridership, and we wish INDOT well as they transition to a different service model," said Iowa Pacific President Ed Ellis in a prepared statement.

Iowa Pacific chose to end its involvement in the Hoosier State service because the company is "reducing marginal business units to focus on its core business," Ellis said in a subsequent email.

Webmaster's Note: It will be interesting and educational when more information becomes available why Iowa Pacific chose to end its relationship with Indiana's Hoosier State operation. Will it affect other proposed non-Amtrak operators providing corridor services in the Mid-West? 

So far none of the articles mention the stiff bus competition offered by MegaBus in the Chicago - Indianapolis corridor. While Amtrak offers one train each way daily taking 5' 5" and costs $31 to $38 for a "Value" rate ticket, MegaBus operates 6 buses each way daily, 3' 30" schedule and $19 fare. However, Megabus serves no intermediate stops. No wonder the Hoosier State can't compete! (Clyde)

ProRail Receives Results for Nebraska Railroad Survey  

ProRail requested UNL's Bureau of Business Research to add four passenger rail-related questions to its Nebraska Annual Social Indicator Survey (NASIS) which was conducted last Fall. Responses to the four questions were favorable indicating a strong support for rail passenger service by Nebraska residents.  Click here to view the summary.

Results will be available for use in our legislative work in the 2017 Unicameral Session.

Posted 2/2/2017.

Denver RTD's R Line to open in late February

Progressive Railroading - January 31, 2017


The Regional Transportation District of Denver's (RTD) R Line light-rail route will open for service Feb. 24, the agency announced yesterday.

The line includes 10.5 miles of new track from the Nine Mile Station to the Peoria Station in Aurora, Colo. R Line trains will operate on existing track from the Lincoln Station in Lone Tree, Colo. to the Nine Mile Station.

The entire route runs 22 miles, RTD officials said in a press release. R Line trains will serve 16 stations total, including eight new ones.

"The R Line is a signature project for RTD, the city of Aurora, and our region," said RTD General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Dave Genova. "The line is significant in that it completes another important connection and mobility opportunity on the eastern side of the metro area, connecting commuters to important destinations throughout the line."

The R Line is part of RTD's "FasTracks" expansion plan, which voters approved in 2004.

Kiewit Infrastructure built the line, which cost $687 million, the Denver Business Journal reported.

Growing amenities draw more dwellers downtown

Kansas City Star, Sunday, November 20, 2016

When Alex Walter and his girlfriend Carolina Holden decided to get an apartment together, they knew they wanted to be downtown. Walter was living in an old building a few blocks west of their current home in the brand-new 1914 Main building, but it wasn't close enough to the action.

"I felt like I wanted to be closer to First Fridays, and closer to the streetcar line," Walter said.

Walter and Holden are part of a growing number of people choosing life downtown to be near its growing arts community, creative venues and great restaurants. It is a style of living attracting native Kansas Citians, like Walter, who grew up in Lenexa but likes urban living. It is also providing a spot for transplants, like Holden, who has lived in many cities around the world, to feel at home.

The inaugural Urban Homes Tour, on Dec. 10, will offer a glimpse of downtown living. The free self-guided tour, part of the larger Downtown Dazzle event, will feature 20 properties with holiday cookies, seasonal cocktails, raffles and contests. Guests are encouraged to ride the KC Streetcar between properties.

Downtown Dazzle takes place the first three weekends in December and includes family-friendly and adults-only festivities in Crown Center, Power & Light, City Market and Union Station.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Attending the NARP Advocacy Symposium and Meeting in Denver

By Jim Hanna, ProRail Nebraska Director, District 4 & Liaison to NARP

I was approached in early August by Jim Souby, the president of ColoRail and the Mountain and Plains Division Leader of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), about the possibility that I might become the Nebraska representative on the NARP Council, replacing Roger Clark, who moved to Arizona and has become their state rep.  This posed a small problem, as I was not a NARP member at that time.  He suggested that I attend the fall NARP Advocacy Symposium and Meeting in Denver, scheduled for October 14 through 16, 2016.  After careful consideration I decided to attend, so I joined NARP, which can be done rather conveniently online, and began planning the trip.  

Aerial view of Denver Union Station - 2016 (RTD Photo)

NARP always schedules their meetings in cities with Amtrak service, so I decided that the event would be a good excuse for a train trip and that my wife and I would get there a few days early and do some sightseeing.  It turned out that this meeting attracted a larger turnout than expected, and by the time I got registered the discounted rooms at the downtown Embassy Suites, the conference hotel, were all booked.  Initially we were afraid that this would pose some problems without a car at our disposal, but through some web searching and verification by Google Earth and phone calls, we found a Marriott hotel that was only two blocks from the Southmoor light rail station.  One of the three lines that serve that station terminates at Denver Union Station where Amtrak also stops, which was convenient.  Two of the other lines make a loop through the downtown area with a stop at the Convention Center, which is just across the corner from the Embassy Suites.  Our transportation quandary was solved.

View of Denver Union Station's modern train shed - 2016 (RTD photo)

We boarded the California Zephyr in Omaha on the evening of October 10.  The train was actually a few minutes early arriving, so we pulled out at precisely 11:05 p.m., the scheduled departure time.  The journey was comfortable and uneventful, with large reclining seats that make it possible to sleep relatively well.  I do recall waking briefly at each of the other four Nebraska stops.

Click here to read Jim's full report (10-page PDF including more photos)

Nebraska Railroad News

Dick Schmeling & Clyde Anderson - Nov. 7, 2016

BNSF's track laying machine began laying concrete ties and ribbon rail near Pleasant Dale Sept 1st building 5.7 miles of second  main track to Milford. Work was completed as of Sept 23rd but more time was needed for ballasting, surfacing and signal upgrades. It could be in service by Nov 3rd.

Effective November 1st, BNSF has eliminated Ravenna as an intermediate crew-change point for trains operating between Lincoln and Alliance, a distance of 367 miles. This is probably the longest crew district in the state! It will be interesting to see haw many trains complete this long run without having to be recrewed.

A westbound U.P. passenger train was seen in Omaha on the Lane Cutoff with two large G.E. units and 16 cars about 8:30 am on Monday, Nov. 7th.

Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) Annual Meeting

St. Louis, MO (originating in Chicago)

September 27 through 29, 2016

Submitted by Bob Kuzelka ( on October 15, 2015

The meeting began in Chicago with a brief tour of renovations underway at Union Station, and a ride on Amtrak's Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio, Texas) to St. Louis. Aboard the train, commissioners, partners and allies heard about - and saw - ongoing work to upgrade the Chicago-St. Louis corridor to 110-mph service between Joliet and Alton by the end of 2017 or early 2018. They also received an update from Amtrak, with a special emphasis on state-supported routes.


Participants in the MIPRC Annual Meeting at Kirkwood, MO Depot

The St. Louis portion of the meeting included a half-day trip on the state-supported Missouri River Runner to Kirkwood for a tour of that city's historic station (see photo, below) and presentations on how the city has embraced the station as both a gateway and popular civic space/downtown anchor; and on the success of the Missouri River Runner service and the Missouri Passenger Rail Advisory Committee (MORPAC).

 Commissioners spent Wednesday afternoon and all of Thursday at the St. Louis City Center hotel hearing and discussing presentations from the MIPRC states on the status of their passenger rail programs/activities, along with reviews of MIPRC's past-year activities and the pending Midwest regional rail planning project with the Federal Railroad Administration. They also reviewed the Universities and Colleges Passenger Rail Survey and discussed steps to follow up on its findings and recommendations. Other topics included updates on federal passenger rail-related legislation and rulings, the Next Generation Equipment Committee and the status of new equipment coming to the Midwest.

Commission business included election of commission officers for FY 2017: Tim Hoeffner, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation's Office of Rail (and Governor Snyder's designee to the commission) as MIPRC's chair; Joan Bray, Missouri Gov. Nixon's designee to the commission, as vice chair; and Kansas Sen. Carolyn McGinn as financial officer.

Click here to read the rest of Bob's report.

Reconnecting the Midwest Region

Midwest High Speed Rail Association - Nov. 7, 2016

High-speed rail will transform the Midwest by transforming the way we travel. Dramatic reductions in travel time, combined with increased flexibility and lower user cost, will mean that people travel more often. This increase in productivity and innovation, together with stronger family connections, will create a more vibrant and attractive region.

Join our community today and become a part of a movement to transform our region.

Recent studies have found that a four-spoke, 220-mph Midwest high-speed rail network would have a staggering economic impact on the region. By 2030 the benefits of such a network would include an annual reduction in 4.3 billion highway miles, 3 billion air travel miles, 26 million hours of time spent in roadway congestion, 127 million gallons of gasoline and 1.4 million tons of pollutant emissions.

Please join or donate today to support this vision for the Midwest.

NARP report on autonomous cars

NARP News Hotline, Friday, October 14, 2016

Webmaster's Note: The ProRail Nebraska Board at its meeting Saturday, October 15, passed a resolution to monitor the development and implementation of autonomous vehicle technology in Nebraska and oppose any proposals to reduce public transit services in anticipation of this new technology.

A report that NARP discussed last week on autonomous vehicles and their potential to change the future of rail transit, has garnered significant attention from media and readers. We noted that the report, "Will Autonomous Vehicles Derail Trains?" ignores new trends in resettlement patterns that have seen young and educated professionals moving to cities and walkable communities that has led to steady growth in passenger rail service, with cities and states looking to develop new rail lines and multi-modal stations. In addition, rail transit is technology that that readily available for the development of passenger rail networks, and it is a mode of transportation that people are familiar with, and can rely on.

This familiarity with rail its technology is something that autonomous vehicles don't have with the majority of the American public yet. The technology is not fully developed, and this poses a challenge for many developers as studies have indicated mixed feelings from consumers about self-driving cars. A report from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) found that 70 percent of respondents were ready to test a self-driving car, but a survey released by the Altman Vilandrie and Company last month shows that 64 percent of people indicated they would not buy an automated vehicle because they believe the technology is dangerous. In addition, a University of Michigan survey earlier this year found less than 16 percent of consumers were totally OK with having fully autonomous cars.

The mixed-bag of results could stem from inexperience with autonomous cars, but the technology could also face a series of regulatory hurdles before they are available for purchase by the masses. Currently, a patchwork of state regulations exist throughout the country. Guidelines for driverless cars unveiled by the White House last month sought to establish a uniform framework and clarify the state versus federal role, although it's a legally non-binding document. The guidance suggests that states be responsible for licensing human drivers, enforcing traffic laws and establishing testing requirement, while the policy plan envisions the federal government as having primary control over the actual automation software and recalls.

The council will be chaired by the governor, with State Rail Director Alene Tchourumoff serving as chair.

Omaha Bus Rapid Transit to Start October 20, 2018

On Friday, February 19, Mode Shift Omaha's monthly Coffee Chat forum in Downtown Omaha featured Lauren Cencic, Omaha Metro Transit's Project Manager of Bus Rapid Transit. Lauren provided the following updates on Omaha's BRT Project:

  • The BRT will use 60-ft CNG (compressed natural gas) articulated buses, but the buses haven't been ordered yet. The infrastructure to support CNG (i.e., fueling stations) is being subsidized with grants from the Metropolitan Utilities District and the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

  • The BRT route on Dodge Street east of 30th St. will included dedicated transit lanes on both sides of the street. Only buses, not cars, will operate eastbound on Dodge on this segment.

  • In designing station stops (see the map above), O-Metro will favor far-side stops -- locating the stops on the far side of the intersection. This not only speeds up traffic, but eliminates the hazard of passengers walking in front of the bus to cross the street.

  • The BRT will have traffic light pre-emptive control to speed the movement of buses in the corridor.

  • The BRT will use a pre-pay fare system so passengers don't pay their fares on the bus. This allows fast "flood" loading and unloading at stations where passengers can board at any door on the bus. There will be fare card machines at the stations and fare inspectors making random fare payment enforcement.

  • Stations will be approximately 80 ft. long by 12 ft. wide, but this will vary with location. Stations will all feature shelters, and many will have facilities for bicycle parking/storage.

  • There will be bicycle racks inside the buses, and several designs are being studied.

  • Local non-BRT buses will probably not use the BRT stops but rather nearby local bus stops for easy transfers.

  • The Westroads Shopping Center has been favorable to expanded commuter parking near the Westroads Transit Center.

  • Mode Shift Omaha has representation on the Omaha BRT Stakeholders Committee.

  • Operations are scheduled to begin on October 20, 2018.

Clyde Anderson - posted 2/27/2016

ProRail Supports Transit Improvements

In Omaha and Lincoln

By Clyde Anderson - August 31, 2015


One of ProRail Nebraska's objectives is advocating for the expansion of the use and accessibility of the AMTRAK stations in the state as hubs for all surface public and private passenger transportation systems. 


Lincoln's StarTrans bus transit system has scheduled two public meetings in September to get public input possible transit service improvements for Lincoln. Click here for details.


Former ProRail President Dick Schmeling, with the blessing of the ProRail Board, sent StarTrans a letter suggesting that it relocate its Downtown Transit Center to the Haymarket District with easy access to the new Amtrak station. The City should also encourage Burlington Trailways and Arrow Stage Lines to relocate their joint inter-city bus terminal from the industrial area northeast of Lincoln to the new Downtown Transit Center. This would facilitate easy connections between StarTrans, Amtrak, and intercity bus services.


Dick has recently organized Citizens For Improved Transit (CFIT) to advocate for improved transit services in Lincoln.

Artwork by Paul Fell

Omaha's Metro Bus System did a similar study a few years ago, and it is presently in the design stage for its new Dodge Street Bus Rapid Transit. Clyde has attended most of OMetro's public planning meetings. Mode Shift Omaha serves as Omaha's advocacy group for non-car transportation (transit, pedestrian, biking), and it's web site has some excellent postings about Bus Rapid Transit.  executive told a Senate committee earlier this week.

Transportation for America is a coalition seeking to align our national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development. N.A.R.P. is a member of this coalition.

ProRail Nebraska advocates safe, environmentally-friendly, fuel efficient, affordable, comfortable, and all-weather mobility that rail transportation can provide.


We think trains need more prominence in the U.S. because:

  • Trains provide more mobility and travel choices, especially in the post-2001 travel environment.
  • A wisely developed train network has great potential to accommodate future travel demand.
  • Trains are energy-efficient -- Intercity (Amtrak) trains are far more efficient than airlines (2441 Btu's per passenger-mile vs. 3999 for airlines in 1998, according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory).
  • Increased use of trains reduces America's dependence on foreign oil.
  • Trains are safe, especially in bad weather.
  • Trains contribute to development which is more compact and less wasteful than auto-oriented development.
  • Trains pollute less than other modes of transportation.

(above courtesy National Association of Railroad Passengers)




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Updated 02/22/2017