Amtrak says it could bring dozens of new train routes to cities across the United States with funding from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal.
Biden’s $2 trillion plan — which still requires approval from both the U.S. House and Senate — includes a proposed $80 billion for Amtrak’s “repair backlog,” improving existing corridors and connecting cities together with new routes, among other things. Amtrak said if the funding is approved by Congress, the company could repair routes, improve trip times and expand services to “underserved communities.”
Here’s what you need to know about Amtrak’s potential plans for its rail system, which would take place over the next 15 years.
Proposed new routes
Amtrak says it could add “up to 30+” new routes and expand into as many as 160 new communities.
It released a map showing where the proposed routes could be. It includes new routes throughout California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and several other states.
Among the new proposed routes:
Nashville, Tenn., to Savannah, Ga., connecting Chattanooga, Atlanta and Macon.
Mobile, Ala., to Baton Rouge, La., connecting with New Orleans.
Louisville, Ky., to Rockford, Ill., connecting Indianapolis and Chicago.
Newton, Kan., to Oklahoma City, Okla., connecting with Wichita.
Las Vegas to Tucson, Ariz., connecting both Riverside and Indio, Calif., and Phoenix, Ariz..
Fort Worth to College Station-Bryan, Texas, connecting with Dallas.
In North Carolina, the new services include a Raleigh-to-Richmond, Virginia, line and “new routes to Wilmington and Asheville and new service from Charlotte to Greenville, S.C., Atlanta and beyond,” The News & Observer reported.
Amtrak said many of the biggest or fastest growing cities “don’t have the rail service they deserve.”
“Major cites like Houston, Atlanta, and Cincinnati have service that is simply inadequate, with trains that only stop once a day and or in the middle of the night,” the railroad service says. “Other cities like Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus and Phoenix don’t have Amtrak service at all!”
The company said it would also add more trips to “up to 20+” existing routes and add “multiple daily trips” into 15 additional states — and “expand or improve” service for 20 million passengers.
It also said its plans would “create jobs, improve the quality of life, reduce carbon emissions and generate economic growth.”
Biden’s infrastructure plan
Amtrak said it needs “significant” government funding to support its plans.
Bill Flynn, the company’s CEO, said in a statement that Biden’s infrastructure plan is “what this nation has been waiting for.”
“Amtrak must rebuild and improve the Northeast Corridor and our National Network and expand our service to more of America. The NEC’s many major tunnels and bridges — most of which are over a century old — must be replaced and upgraded to avoid devastating consequences for our transportation network and the country,” Flynn said.
Biden on Wednesday unveiled his sweeping infrastructure plan, called the American Jobs Plan, which the White House says would invest about $2 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade.
It would invest in transportation-related infrastructure, more “resilient” infrastructure, clean drinking water, digital and power infrastructure and research and development, among other things. It would also work to modernize schools and “address the affordable housing crisis.”
Biden is expected to discuss a second package that focuses “squarely on creating economic security for the middle class,” in the coming weeks, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
But Biden’s plan, which he proposed funding through changes to the corporate tax code, has already faced disagreements over how to pay for it.
It’s also unlikely to gain bipartisan support in Congress as some Republican lawmakers have balked at the size of the package and the increase in taxes, The New York Times reports.
Senate Democrats, however, have weighed trying to pass the plan through budget reconciliation, CNN reports, which would require a simple majority instead of 60 votes to approve it. It’s the same method the U.S. Senate used to pass the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that, among other things, expanded child tax credits and provided most Americans with stimulus checks up to $1,400-per-person.