How about a train ride from Nashville, Tennessee, to Atlanta, Phoenix to Southern California or Louisville, Kentucky to Indianapolis?
Amtrak released one late Wednesday proposed card of new and expanded service if it can land the $ 80 billion that President Joe Biden has proposed as part of his proposed rail service American Jobs Plan, a massive $ 2 trillion plan rebuild the nation’s aging infrastructure.
Amtrak’s vision is to provide up to 160 previously unserved communities with new intercity rail services over the next 15 years, including 30 potential new routes and improved services with more daily journeys on existing routes.
A new service has been identified for major cities that do not currently have Amtrak service, such as Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus, Ohio, and Phoenix. The cost of each of the projects is unclear.
Amtrak has long been hit by financial problems and much-needed upgrades, making it impossible for the quasi-public company to expand and improve service, and it is becoming a regular target of criticism of slow and unreliable services.
A significant portion of the funding in Biden’s plan would cover a repair backlog along the heavily used Amtrak service to the northeast, where the hub is located at Penn Station in Manhattan, the country’s largest transit center, and from all points north, south, east runs and west.
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Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is the busiest railroad in North America. About 2,200 trains run daily on part of the Washington-Boston route, and before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 18 million trains will run through the Washington-New York spine annually. Boston and connecting corridors to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts; Albany, New York; and Richmond, Virginia.
The plan aims to repair large tunnels and bridges, most of which are a century old, along the northeast corridor and refurbish stations.
“This nation has been waiting for President Biden’s infrastructure plan,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “Amtrak needs to rebuild and improve the Northeast Corridor, our national network, and expand our service to more of America.”
Amtrak released a broad map on Wednesday that showed where new and improved service could lead if the money is approved by Congress. The proposals are contained in Amtrak’s “Connect US” plan – a 15-year vision that will add 20 million new Amtrak passengers by 2035. The number of drivers is currently around 32 million.
The new service proposed in Amtrak’s plan includes:
- Routes south connecting Atlanta and Nashville, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Savannah, Georgia; and Montgomery, Alabama.
- Wisconsin routes connect Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison and Eau Claire.
- New service from Indianapolis and connection to Louisville.
- New routes from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and Phoenix to Los Angeles.
- A revamped Texas network with connections from Houston to Dallas.
- Routes from New York to Scranton and Allentown in Pennsylvania and a route from Manhattan to Nassau County on Long Island
“With this federal investment, Amtrak will create jobs and improve equity in cities, regions and across the country – and we are ready to deliver,” said Flynn
In total, the new routes would bring several daily trips to 15 additional states.
Further expanded services would run on the existing Philadelphia to Pittsburgh routes. New York through Baltimore and Washington, DC; San Diego to San Luis Obispo, California; the Northwest Corridor through Portland, Oregon and Seattle; and several additions and improvements from Chicago.
Cities identified for a new Amtrak service will usually already have the track in place. However, the expansion would apparently require the construction of new stations and other infrastructures.
Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said the exact funding for each of the projects is still undetermined and “investments are scalable” based on what has been approved by Congress.
Speaking in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Biden spoke about the need to improve the nation’s rail system. what he’s long been a lawyer.
In fact, he was nicknamed “Amtrak Joe” because, as a Senator, he would take the train every day from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington, DC.
“The American Employment Plan will build new rail corridors and transit lines that will lessen congestion, reduce pollution, reduce commute times and enable investment in communities that can be connected to the cities and towns on the outskirts that have many jobs these days” he said Wednesday.
Joey Garrison reports for USA TODAY. Joseph Spector is the government and policy editor for the Atlantic Group of the USA TODAY Network, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at JSPEC[email protected] or he can be followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany