Missoula commissioner wants to bring back passenger trains to Southern Montana

A Missoula County Commissioner is pushing to bring a passenger train that would run through southern Montana to connect Chicago to Seattle or Portland. 

"Missoula County, and in fact all of southern Montana, last saw regular passenger rail service in 1979," Missoula County David Strohmaier said. 

Strohmaier said the goal is to bring passenger trains through the southern half of Montana. 

For nearly a decade, Missoula County Commissioner David Strohmaier has been pushing to bring back a passenger train that would go from Chicago, to Fargo, then stop in Miles City, Billings, Livingston, Bozeman, Helena, Missoula and Paradise. The train would then go to Spokane where passengers can choose to go to Portland or Seattle.

Strohmaier said a passenger train can boost local economies. In a document he sent to ABC FOX Montana shown below, annual maintenance costs for these trains is anywhere from $5-7 million in southern states with similar multi-state passenger train services. The investment back into communities the train runs through is more than $170 million.

Missoula commissioner wants to bring back passenger trains to Southern Montana

He said trains will make Montana roadways safer.

"Those other modes of transportation, such as automobile traffic, contributes significantly more to injuries and deaths then you'll ever see or have seen with rail," Strohmaier said. 

He's talked to a number of local elected officials in the cities the train would run through, including state and federal elected officials, with many in support.

He says this plan is only in the beginning steps, but several multi-trillion dollar infrastructure proposals are starting to emerge to help fund this plan.

The next meeting about bringing a passenger train to southern Montana will take place in the spring. 

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