President Biden celebrates 50 years of Amtrak with $80 billion infrastructure push
"Amtrak Joe," also known as President Joe Biden, is in Philadelphia right now where he just finished speaking at Amtrak's 30th Street Station. The president is pushing his massive $1.9 trillion infrastructure plan which includes some $80 billion in funding for the nation's train systems.
President Biden is proposing spending $10 billion a year on passenger rail and freight improvements including new high-speed train cars, repairing train tracks, improving and expanding tunnels, and putting in new rails across the country.
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The president is also helping celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amtrak. "It's an honor to celebrate Amtrak's 50th anniversary. I look forward to a bright future for all American rail," he said.
The president continued, "We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to position Amtrak — and rail in general — to play a central role in our transportation and economic future. To make the investments that can help get America back on track. No pun intended."
Biden pointed out he helped get federal loans to allow Amtrak to purchase new Acela trains. Those trains are made in America. He also said he protected Amtrak from funding cuts for years.
The president said when it comes to rail America is "behind the curve", but he suggested we could catch up with enough investment. President Biden said:
"Imagine a two hour train ride between Atlanta and Charlotte, going at speeds of 220 miles an hour, a two and half hour trip between Chicago and Detroit or faster and more regular trips between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, a route that I imagine could be pretty popular on Fridays."
He also talked about all the possibilities for inter-city rail on routes like Milwaukee to Green Bay to Madison or Scranton to Allentown to New York. He suggested there are some 160 potential new rail connections.
Related: The major push for high-speed rail
Biden said a newspaper journalist had once reported that Biden had "taken more than 7,000 roundtrips on Amtrak" during his career. "I think that's an exaggeration," Biden added. It might not be. His love for commuting via Amtrak and passenger rail is no secret. During his many years in the U.S. Senate, he would commute via Amtrak between Delaware and Washington. Biden said, "Amtrak had become my family."
Related: Amtrak showing off new high-speed trains
During the 2020 campaign, Biden said he, “will make sure that America has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world — for both passengers and freight.”
Related: Amtrak plans to expand new nonstop Acela service from New York
That’s also a priority for Biden’s Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg who told TPG back in February:
".. an American citizen should have nothing to envy from a Japanese or Chinese or for that matter, an Italian or Turkish citizen when it comes to the opportunities for them to travel quickly where they need to be, and safely on passenger rail.”
You can watch all of the president's comments here.
And Amtrak has a sale on now for 50% off many fares. Check that out here.