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A rail network that would provide 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed train service remains a “major priority” for President Obama and Vice President Biden, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wrote yesterday in his daily blog. Reiterating remarks he made earlier in the day to the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, LaHood noted Obama’s commitment to high-speed rail (HSR) was reflected in the president’s latest budget proposal, which calls for $2.5 billion in fiscal-year 2013 as part of a $47 billion, six-year investment to continue construction of a high-speed rail network.
Various U.S. manufacturers, such as Progress Rail Services, already are investing in HSR as well, LaHood said, noting the company’s recent opening of a 700,000-square-foot factory that is expected to employ 300 new workers. “Progress Rail isn’t the only company experiencing success — this is a story that is repeating itself across the country,” LaHood wrote. “To date, 30 rail companies from around the world have pledged that, if selected for high-speed rail contracts, they’ll hire American workers and expand their bases of operations in the United States.” Once the network is built, HSR will spur business development along the corridors, which will generate jobs, he believes. “Simply put, over the long-run, high-speed rail will bolster America’s economic competitiveness,” LaHood wrote.