Amtrak reveals US rail expansion goals after Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure bill

Social media users excited about new routes and services

An Amtrak train departs 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. AP
An Amtrak train departs 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. AP

Hours after US President Joe Biden unveiled his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, national railway operator Amtrak announced its hopes for expansion and social media users revelled in the details.

Mr Biden on Wednesday announced the details of his infrastructure plan to strengthen the US economy after the fallout from the pandemic.

As part of the plan, $80 billion will be allocated for Amtrak and freight rail.

Amtrak is a commercial company that operates most passenger rail services in the US, but it relies on state and federal subsidies and funds.

Mr Biden is a fan of the railway and often rode the train from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington when he was a senator.

He has been nicknamed "Amtrak Joe".

"The American Jobs Plan will build new rail corridors and transit lines, easing congestion, cutting pollution, slashing commute times and opening up investment in communities that can be connected to the cities, and cities to the outskirts, where a lot of jobs are these days," he said in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Congress still needs to approve the plan and it is unclear how it will be received.

Amtrak chief executive Bill Flynn is aware of that pivotal step towards additional funding and support from the federal government.

“President Biden’s infrastructure plan is what this nation has been waiting for," Mr Flynn said.

"Amtrak must rebuild and improve the North-East Corridor and our national network and expand our service to more of America."

The North-East Corridor, which serves the metropolitan areas of Boston, New York and Washington DC, is easily the busiest part of the national rail system.

But it is in need of tunnel and rail upgrades, because some sections are more than a century old.

Amtrak is also looking to expand. It released the "Amtrak Connects US" plan that describes its vision for the future if it receives federal support.

The company says funding could help to add more than 30 routes, expand services to more than 20 lines and reach another 160 communities across the US.

Amtrak's vision for expansion by 2035 also discusses the expansion of routes and services in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The plan suggests there should be greater service between Texas cities like Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, many of which rank among the largest US cities.

The company also said supporting Amtrak would help the US to fend off climate change.

Social media users voiced their support.

But Amtrak's plan and Mr Biden's funding proposal did not go without some criticism.

Twitter users made comparisons with rail systems in Asia and the EU, where travellers had quicker, more reliable service.

The company has often expressed interest in expanding its system but faced federal funding cuts and a lack of Republican support.

Updated: April 2, 2021 11:21 AM

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