Amtrak on Wednesday released the first outline of a proposal that would jump-start expansion of the nation’s railroad system. The plan was unveiled in the wake of President Biden’s $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure proposal that would allocate $80 billion to modernize Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor line — which runs through Boston and other cities scattered throughout the northeast.
Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said the president’s plan is “what this nation has been waiting for.”
“Amtrak must rebuild and improve the Northeast Corridor, our National Network, and expand out service to more of America,” Flynn said in the statement.
Along with Flynn’s statement, the company revealed a “Connects US” fact sheet and map that outlines existing railroad services as well as the new and enhanced route proposals. Amtrak said the proposed networks would reach millions of new passengers over the course of 15 years under a plan that the company calls “Our 2035 Vision.”
The company said it would introduce multiple daily trips in 15 more states, add up to 30 new routes, and add more trips to 20-plus existing routes. Amtrak said the new routes would serve up to 160 additional communities. The proposal would serve 20 million more passengers than the 32 million Amtrak served in 2019, the company said.
Amtrak's response to the Biden infra plan: https://t.co/b8qRz4LIve— Yonah Freemark (@yfreemark) March 31, 2021
-30+ new routes
-20+ enhanced existing routes
-20m more annual riders
-Better service to cities like HOU, ATL, Cincy
-New service to unserved cities like Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus, Phoenix pic.twitter.com/Di9BmnCsfr
The map shows corridor extensions branching from Boston to Manchester and Concord, N.H. A new railroad service outlines a route that extends from Rockland, Maine, through Boston and Providence, to Roanoke or Norfolk, Virginia. The map also shows corridor extensions to Las Vegas from California, and between Dallas and Houston.
According to Amtrak’s fact sheet, many of the country’s biggest and fastest growing metropolitan areas with diverse populations “don’t have the rail service they deserve.” The company singled out cities like Houston, Atlanta, and Cincinnati as having services that are “simply inadequate with trains that only stop once a day and often in the middle of the night.” Other cities, like Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus, and Phoenix don’t have Amtrak services at all, the company said.
“With this federal investment, Amtrak will create jobs and improve equity across cities, regions, and the entire country – and we are ready to deliver,” Flynn said in the statement.
The company clarified that significant government funding is required to support the new and improved routes. All of the proposed service additions would require a buy-in by states, or groups of states, to make a long-term commitment to fund operations.
Under the American Jobs Plan, Biden has pitched $80 billion in funds for Amtrak, which would be used “to address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs; and enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency, and electrification.”
So far, Biden’s infrastructure plan hasn’t generated much bipartisan support, and whether it ultimately gets the nod from the GOP remains questionable. A number of Republicans have denounced the plan’s price tag and the increase of the corporate tax rate, which would fund the plan.