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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Amtrak seeks $2.2 billion in FY12, proposes to add Acela cars


Today, Amtrak submitted to Congress a $2.22 billion fiscal-year 2012 budget request that includes $1.285 billion for capital investments, $616 million for operating expenses and $271 million for debt service.

The proposal includes the procurement of 40 additional Acela Express coach cars to help the railroad meet growing ridership demand. Amtrak would add two coach cars to each of the 20 existing Acela trainsets, increasing seating capacity by 130 passengers per train.

The longer trainsets would require Amtrak to modify high-speed rail maintenance facilities in Washington, D.C., New York and Boston. If the railroad begins procuring the cars in FY2012, the first new coaches would begin to enter service in FY2014, according to Amtrak.

The railroad also is requesting $50 million to begin design and preliminary engineering for the Gateway Project, which calls for building two new rail tunnels into Manhattan and expanding capacity at New York Penn Station. The project is the cornerstone of Amtrak’s proposal to develop a high-speed rail system that would feature trains operating at 220 mph.

However, the Obama Administration is proposing to change the Amtrak funding model in FY2012. In the budget released today, the president proposes to merge Amtrak’s subsidies into the high-speed rail program as part of a larger, competitive “system preservation” initiative, the summary said. In other words, the national intercity passenger railroad would have to compete for rail grants.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/14/2011