President Joe Biden joined Amtrak executives for a Friday ceremony marking the half-century mark for the government-owned passenger railroad
Streamed live from Gray 30thStreet Station in Philadelphia, the ceremony highlighted the contributions of Amtrak employees past and present as well as the railroad’s plans to expand and improve rail service for the future.
“Today we have a once in a generation opportunity to position Amtrak, and rail, and intercity rail, as well in general to play a central role in our transformation of transportation and economic future,” Biden said at the event.
Biden is sometimes known as “Amtrak Joe” for his daily trips to and from Senate sessions to Wilmington, one of Amtrak’s busier stations on the Northeast corridor.
“America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable and equitable train service. Amtrak has the vision and expertise to deliver it, now we need Congress to provide the funding for the next 50 years,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn during the ceremony.
Over the next 15 years, Amtrak’s vision for expansion will connect up to 160 communities throughout the United States by building new or improved rail corridors in more than 25 states. As part of this plan, Amtrak will introduce new stations in over half the U.S. states, increase rail service to 47 of the top 50 metropolitan areas and create over half a million new jobs, according to release.
The aggressive Amtrak expansion has not been formally endorsed by the Biden Administration.
Critics claim the expansion would widen losses by Amtrak, which had been close to breaking even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic
“Whether by safely and conveniently connecting more people, towns, and cities to each other or as part of a low-carbon transportation system helping combat climate change, America needs more Amtrak service,” said Amtrak President Stephen Gardner. “We are ready to deliver on our vision of providing safe, reliable, efficient, and sustainable transportation services to more people in more places across the nation.”
Major investments to infrastructure can be seen up and down the Northeast Corridor, including the Gateway Program and the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel Replacement Program. Planned infrastructure improvements will increase track capacity, improve the ride quality and offer greater reliability.
The Amtrak fleet is also being modernized. Next year, Amtrak will debut the first, new Acela high-speed trains. Even sooner, customers will begin riding new state-owned railcars in the Midwest and California and diesel-electric locomotives will go into service this summer. Overnight trains with refreshed interiors on coaches, sleeping cars, lounges, and dining cars are also coming in the next several months.
This summer, Amtrak expects to proceed with the purchase of a new fleet of 83 Intercity Train Sets, which will provide modern rail amenities to better serve Amtrak customers on the Northeast Corridor and various state-supported routes.
This past January, in partnership with the State of New York, Amtrak opened Moynihan Train Hall, the railroad’s new home in New York City.
Amtrak employs 1,000 in Delaware in areas that include administration, maintenance, training and dispatching.