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Event Registration & Agenda


  • $199.00 - In-Person or Virtual Admission
  • Free - Silver Rail Society Plus (MUST be a Rail Passengers member, at time of registration, at this level)

Click Here To Register

Registration fees are refundable for cancellations received, via email, no later than August 4, 2023, minus a $50 administrative fee. Cancellations after August 4, 2023 will be refundable at 50% minus a $50 administrative fee.

Registration may be transferred to another RailNation: Meridian attendee with a $50 administrative fee. No refunds will be provided after September 29, 2023


Join us in historic Meridian, Mississippi on Friday, October 6th through Sunday, October 8th as the hometown of Jimmie Rodgers, David Ruffin, Gil Carmichael, and John Robert Smith plays host to the Association's 2023 Fall Advocacy Symposium. We are hard at work with local & regional officials, members, and fellow advocates to put on one of our best meetings yet.

The conference will kick off on Friday with our fundraising AleNation event, so be sure to be in town early to start off the weekend on a high note. Saturday's educational sessions will highlight the "past, present, and future" of passenger rail advocacy. Registration & breakfast begins at 7 am and the main program starting promptly at 8 am. The day will be filled with panels and presentations from local, regional, and federal speakers all discussing the very bright future of passenger rail in the US, with a nod to how we got here over the years. We will wrap up the main portion of the day with a "fireside chat" between our President & CEO Jim Mathews and a very special guest.

While the formal conference closes Saturday at 5 pm, the event is not over. There is a special event Saturday night at the 134-year-old Grand Opera House and a Sunday morning brunch to keep the festivities going.

The people of Meridian are pleased to welcome us to their hometown, so you can take everything you learn over the conference weekend back to yours.


(All Sessions at the MSU Riley Center, except where noted)

Schedule is subject to modification


Agenda Update:

Friday, October 6th

  • Regional Organizing Session: 2:00-3:00pm
    • Meridian Union Station - New Orleans Room
  • Advocacy Workshop: Strengthening Your Hometown : 3:00-5:00pm
    • Threefoot Hotel - Dreyfuss Room
    • $40 (separate admission)
    • Register here
  • AleNation: 6:00-8:30pm

Saturday, October 7

[Note: Times to be adjusted for welcome videos/in person comments from officials]

  • 7:00am-8:00am
    • Registration/Breakfast
  • 8:00am-8:10am
    • Welcome
      • Meredith Richards, Rail Passengers Chairwoman
      • Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President + CEO
  • 8:10am-8:50am
    • Keynote Speaker
      • Amit Bose, FRA Administrator - Confirmed
  • 8:50am-10:20am
    • Mayors Panel – Mayors share how they have successfully built passenger rail and invested in the communities they lead, and what it will take for those fighting for new service.
      • Carolyn McAdams, Mayor of Greenwood, MS - Confirmed
      • Friday Ellis, Mayor of Monroe, LA - Confirmed
      • Dan Gibson, Mayor of Natchez, MS - Confirmed
  • 10:20am-10:35am
    • BREAK
  • 10:35am-11:45am
    • Onboard Service Improvements: Best Practices for Enhancing the Passenger Experience: Join RPA Communications Manager Madison Ned Butler as they share their experience as primary author of the Congressional Amtrak Food & Beverage Working Group. Learn about the research that goes into these recommendations, the process to come as Amtrak responds to the report, and how you can advocate for a better on-board experience. Following the presentation, we will provide a live Q&A giving you the opportunity to dive into the contents of the report.
      • M. Ned Butler, Rail Passengers Communications Manager
  • 11:45am-1:00pm
    • Lunch - w/ Featured Speaker
      • Peter LeCody, Texas Rail Advocates President & Former Rail Passengers Chair
  • 1:00pm-2:00pm
    • Southern Rail Commission: Advice for advocates about the blueprint for getting new service where you live
      • Knox Ross, Mississippi - Confirmed
  • 2:00pm-3:00pm
    • New Developments at Amtrak
      • Larry Chestler, Amtrak Vice President, Long Distance Service Line - Confirmed
      • Anna Lynn Smith, Amtrak Vice President, Strategy & Planning - Confirmed
  • 3:00pm-3:15pm
    • Break
  • 3:15pm-4:15pm
    • Finalizing Rail Passengers Association’s Route Recommendations for the FRA’s “Daily Long-Distance Service Study” - This session will be the primary venue for our staff to solicit advice and feedback in advance of the Route Identification workshops taking place in Winter 2024.
      • Sean Jeans-Gail, Rail Passengers VP of Government Affairs + Policy
      • Frank Loetterle - FRA Intercity Passenger Rail Planner - Confirmed
  • 4:15pm-5:00pm
    • Closing “Fireside Chat”
      • Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President + CEO
      • John Robert Smith, Former Mayor of Meridian & current Transportation for American Chairman - Confirmed
  • 5:00pm
    • Conference Closes
  • 7:30pm

Sunday, October 8

  • Council Business Meeting: 8:30am-10:30am (In-person/Virtual)
  • Gospel Brunch: 11:30am -1:00pm