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Forum To Discuss Passenger Rail System

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Montana State University will host a virtual Friday Forum focused on the history and future of passenger rail service in Montana on March 8. “Passenger Rail in Southern Montana Gaining Steam” will be held via Zoom from noon to 1:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Jason Stuart, vice-chair of the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority, and Dan Bucks, chairman of the authority’s Development and Strategic Engagement Committee, will discuss the history of passenger rail service in Montana and current efforts to reestablish passenger rail service across southern Montana.

In December 2023, the Federal Railroad Administration announced that the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority successfully applied to include the former North Coast Hiawatha route in the FRA’s Corridor ID program. This is the only national, long-distance route selected for inclusion in Corridor ID. The administration awarded the Big Sky authority an initial grant of $500,000 to create a plan, conduct environmental reviews and pay for technical engineering. FRA also revealed that the former North Coast Hiawatha route is one of 15 long-distance rail routes preferred for restoration.

Regional rail authorities in Montana aim to preserve and improve abandoned rail services for agriculture, industry and passenger traffic. The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority’s mission is to reestablish safe, reliable and sustainable passenger rail service across southern Montana that contributes to the health and well-being of the state.

Forum participants are encouraged to submit questions and comments in advance via Zoom registration.

OLLI at MSU Friday Forums occur monthly from September through May. Participants must register before 11 a.m. Friday, March 8. For more information or to register, visit or call 406-994-6646. Participants will receive an email from Zoom with a link and instructions ahead of the event.

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