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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Regional Rail Planning

Overview of Regional Rail Planning

A regional rail plan serves several purposes: First, it identifies and describes a common, long-term vision for regional passenger rail service and the required infrastructure network based on existing conditions, projections of future travel demand, and the optimal role for rail service in a multi-modal transportation context.  An integrated vision for a regional rail network illustrates how links with local transit, aviation, highway, and non-motorized modes can create a seamless, integrated transportation system to carry travelers from origin to destination throughout the region in the most cost-effective manner.  Secondly, it identifies the potential institutional arrangements, financial requirements, and planning and development activities needed to achieve the vision.  For more information on Regional Rail Planning and other rail planning topics, view the FRA Rail Program Delivery Video Series

Southwest Multi-State Rail Planning Study

The Southwest Multi-State Rail Planning Study (SW Study) was the first regional rail planning study led by the FRA.  The SW Study was a great case study that informed FRA’s subsequent activities as well as the overall national rail planning effort.  Representatives from key transportation organizations across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah worked through the challenges of developing multi-state rail plans and outlined a common preliminary technical vision for high-performance rail (HPR) in the Southwest as part of this Study. The Study demonstrated an analytical framework for developing early-stage HPR network planning concepts and examining the institutional context for establishing and implementing a long-range rail vision. 

Southeast Regional Rail Planning Study

The FRA-led Southeast Regional Rail Planning Study kicked off in Summer 2016 with a diverse set of stakeholders to explore the potential for a high-performance, multi-state intercity passenger rail network. Learn more at


Southeast Regional Rail

Midwest Regional Rail Planning Study

Starting in the Spring of 2017, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has embarked on a project to explore the potential for a high-performance, multi-state intercity passenger rail network in the Midwest region. The study will build on current rail planning efforts within the twelve states of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Indiana, and Minnesota and will explore the potential for a fully integrated passenger rail network linking communities throughout the region. Learn more about the Midwest Study at:

Last updated: Thursday, November 14, 2019