Frequently Asked Questions


+ What is the Midwest Regional Rail Plan?

The Midwest Regional Rail Plan (MWRRP) is a collaborative, multi-state effort to produce a 40-year framework for the Midwest intercity passenger rail network, including a prioritization of corridors and investment projects, a governance structure, and a funding strategy.

Learn more in the Project Overview.

+ Why is FRA undertaking the MWRRP?

in 2011, FRA initiated a national planning effort to develop a toolkit that supports conceptual planning of high-performance passenger rail at the regional level. This planning effort was aimed at developing a long-term, 40-year vision for building regional rail networks. With the eventual goal of developing guidance for regional rail plans and determining their role in regards to State Rail Plans and Service Development Plans, this national planning effort helped define the elements of a regional rail plan. The MWRRP is being completed in support of this effort.

Learn more in Project Background

+ What is the study area?

The primary study area is composed of the 12 lead participating states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Complementary jurisdictions which may be considered in parts of the proposed network include: Kentucky, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

+ How will the plan be developed?

FRA will develop the plan through the following approach:

  • Engage key stakeholders to help direct the study elements and provide input and feedback on the Midwest Regional Plan
  • Catalogue and summarize existing rail and transportation plans from all states in the study region as well as regional and multi-state entities
  • Assess existing and potential future travel demand between all core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) and for all passenger modes within the Midwest region
  • Analyze the performance of each corridor of interest as a standalone investment and as part of a potential network
  • Provide a benefit-cost analysis for the regional network that considers both user and public benefits and costs from a network perspective
  • Formulate a high-level prioritization of the Midwest corridors
  • Validate a governance structure that originates primarily from the Midwest State DOTs
  • Complete a final regional plan for the Midwest region

+ What is the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission and what is its role in the MWRRP?

The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) brings together state leaders from across the region to advocate for passenger rail improvements. Formed by compact agreement in 2000, MIPRC's current members are Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin. The main purposes of the compact are to promote, coordinate, and support regional improvements to passenger rail service. MIPRC promotes both current improvements and long-range plans for intercity passenger rail service in the Midwest, and coordinates the interaction among Midwestern state officials, and between the public and private sector at all levels (federal, state and local). MIPRC also supports current state efforts being conducted through state DOTs, and was responsible for submitting the statement of interest that resulted in the FRA selecting the Midwest for this study. MIPRC will participate as a stakeholder in the MWRRP.

+ Who participates in the Stakeholder Planning Group?

Members of the Stakeholder Planning Group include local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), railroads, public and private passenger rail operators, transit agencies and other regional and statewide planning organizations. Members of the SPG are actively and consistently engaged in the planning process. Learn more about the Stakeholders.

FRA is also communicating with interested parties. To be included as a interested party, please email

+ What is high-performance rail?

For this study, FRA is taking a market-based approach that reflects the differing needs and characteristics of corridors throughout the nation. This is being done through a three-tiered high-performance passenger rail strategy:

  • Core Express services frequent trains: 125-250+ mph in the nation’s densest and most populous regions
  • Regional services service: 90-125 mph between mid-sized and large cities
  • Feeder services: up to 90 mph connecting mid-side and smaller urban areas with each other or with larger metropolitan areas

+ What is the CONNECT model and how is it being used?

Developed by the FRA, the CONceptual NEtwork Connections Tool (CONNECT) is a sketch planning tool that estimates the overall performance of user-defined rail corridors and networks. CONNECT provides a broad, market-based level of detail examining connections between Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs). It estimates order-of-magnitude ridership, revenue, and capital, operating and maintenance costs. For the MWRRP, it will be used to evaluate the relative performance of different passenger rail network and service scenarios. As a sketch planning tool, it is best suited to this type of comparative analysis, rather than as a source of stand-alone estimates of the performance of a specific individual scenario.

+ How can I stay updated on the progress of the plan?

The website will be updated regularly with new documents and meeting materials. You can subscribe to the bimonthly project newsletter under Contact. If you would like to be included as a interested party, please email