‘Historic investment’ of 66 billion in US rail
The US Senate has voted to take up an agreement including 66 billion dollars for rail transport. A ‘historic investment’, says railroad company Amtrak. President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators reached agreement on major provisions of the package.
The money that goes to rail would be used to reduce Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, improve Amtrak’s 457-mile-long Northeast Corridor as well as other routes and make safety improvements to rail grade crossings. It is part of a nearly 1 trillion dollar national infrastructure plan on which the Senate voted to take upon Thursday 29 July, writes Associated Press after obtaining a summary of the agreement.
Rebuilding core infrastructure
Amtrak is happy with the agreement, saying in a statement that they ‘applaud the Administration and the group of bipartisan Senators for putting forward this historic level of investment in Amtrak and passenger rail’.
If enacted, Amtrak says they will work to put these funds to use by rebuilding core infrastructure, replacing equipment and, with the FRA and state partners, bringing more Amtrak service to more people across the nation and reducing America’s carbon footprint. “While this funding is a fantastic start, we call on Congress to also ensure that Amtrak gets the on-time performance and preference from our host railroads that the law requires so we can achieve the growth in reliable service that our nation needs.”
Most significant investment in a century
President Biden welcomed the accord as one that would show America can “do big things”. It includes the most significant long-term investments in nearly a century, he said, on par with building the transcontinental railroad or the Interstate highway system.
Biden’s original plan earmarked a higher amount: about 80 billion dollars for rail. Experts immediately said that would be insufficient, meaning that would definitely be the case with the 66 billion. In the amended plan, 39 billion is also reserved for public transport. This is also less than what was initially aimed at. The money will be used to buy new metro trains, among other things.
Picture: US President Joe Biden at Amtrak’s 50th anniversary in April