President Biden traveled to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station Friday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Amtrak’s first rail ride, from New York City to Philadelphia, and tout a grand future for the federally funded train system.
“Today we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity position — Amtrak and rail and inner-city rail — to play a central role in our transformation and transportation economic future,” the president said during a Friday press event.
Biden’s proposed $2 trillion spending package, which targets job growth, infrastructure, and climate forward initiatives, would allocate $10 billion a year to passenger and freight rail systems – two-thirds of which would support current Amtrak railways.
Biden said that in addition to creating “critical jobs” like laying tracks, fixing bridges, tunnels, and modernizing stations, the plan would expand rail systems between cities outside of the northeast corridor.
“Imagine a two-hour train ride between Atlanta and Charlotte, going at speeds of two hundred and twenty miles an hour, and two and a half hour trip between Chicago and Detroit,” Biden said. “Faster and more regular trips between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, a route that I imagine could be pretty popular on Fridays,” he added.
Biden said that developing the U.S. rail system would change how families are able to live in the U.S., connect communities that feel left behind, and provide cleaner transportation.
The president claimed that if just 10 percent of U.S. shipping freights and trucks rely on a rail system instead of highways, it would remove 3.3 million cars from the road – a critical step in Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
But apart from achieving U.S. climate markers, Biden said rail investment is a necessary step in keeping up with China.
“We’re behind the curve,” Biden said, adding that China’s more than 23,000 miles of high-speed rail accounts for two-thirds of the world’s high-speed rail system.
China’s high-speed rail system travels at a rate of 220 miles per hour – compared to the single high-speed rail line that runs from Boston to Washington, D.C. at a speed of up 150 miles per hour.
China is currently developing a high-speed rail that can travel up to 400 miles per hour.
“But folks, as I said the other night, America is on the move again,” he said. “There is so much we can do, and it has such an incredibly positive impact on the environment, incredibly positive impact on work, on opportunities. And again, all the things we have to do to put Amtrak in place and be one of the great, great contributors to our country is we have to invest.”