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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak unveils details, cost of corridor expansion plan

"New and improved rail service has the ability to change how our country moves and provides cleaner air, less traffic and a more connected country," said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn.
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Amtrak yesterday provided more details about its "Corridor Vision" plan, which calls for more frequent intercity passenger-rail service to more than 160 more communities and 20 million more riders annually by 2035.

To be implemented in collaboration with states, local communities, the Biden administration and other stakeholders, the Corridor Vision builds on the railroad’s national network, integrating new and improved corridors to expand the existing system, Amtrak officials said in a press release.

"Now is the time to invest in our country’s infrastructure and future," said Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Bill Flynn. "New and improved rail service has the ability to change how our country moves and provides cleaner air, less traffic and a more connected country."

Amtrak’s plan to expand service includes 39 potential new routes and more trips or other enhancements on 25 existing routes, creating the potential to expand or improve rail service for 20 million additional passengers each year. The plan also calls for improved service in major cities that currently are underserved by rail, such as Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati, as well as new service to cities such as Las Vegas, Nashville, Columbus, Phoenix, and Wichita, with increased access for many towns in between.

Amtrak estimates it would cost $75 billion over 15 years to implement the plan.

In a May 26 letter sent to Congress, Flynn asked for the following legislative actions so Amtrak can achieve its goals:
• Authorize a new corridor-development program aimed at developing new passenger-rail corridors and improving existing-corridor routes through Amtrak’s National Network grant. Amtrak would use the federal funds to cover the initial costs of getting these corridor routes up and running before asking states to support them consistent with federal law.
• Provide dedicated, predictable and sufficient funding, including through mechanisms such as an intercity passenger-rail trust fund.
• Stop freight trains from “unlawfully” delaying passengers. Since 1973, freight railroads have been required by law to provide Amtrak with preference over freight. However, many freight railroads ignore the law because Amtrak is unable to enforce it, and as a result many passenger trains don’t arrive to their destinations on time.
• Ensure fair access to host railroads for new service and adding trains. An essential condition of the deal that created Amtrak and relieved freight railroads of the obligation to provide passenger service was fair access to all rail lines for existing and additional Amtrak trains. Unfortunately, too often host railroads resist and stall efforts to expand passenger-rail service, Amtrak officials say.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/28/2021