Amtrak is unveiling a $117 billion, 30-year vision for high-speed rail on the East Coast that would drastically reduce travel times along the congested corridor.
At a news conference at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station on Tuesday, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman said the proposal is at the visionary stage, and there's no funding plan in place. It aims for high-speed rail by 2040.
Boardman says the Next-Gen High Speed Rail line would reduce the travel time between Washington, D.C., and New York City from 162 minutes to 96 minutes. The travel time between New York and Boston would go from 215 minutes to 84 minutes.
Amtrak said trains could operate up to 220 mph on a new two-track corridor resulting in a trip time of about three hours between Washington and Boston, cutting in half or better the current schedules, according to the concept plan.
About 12 million riders a year use Amtrak along the northeast corridor.
Amtrak says the high-speed trains could accommodate about 33.7 million passengers by 2040.
"Amtrak’s plan to modernize the Northeast Corridor and make it a truly high speed rail line is the type of innovative thinking we need to get cars off the road, decrease pollution and put people to work improving America's infrastructure,” stated Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).
Funding, however, has not been secured. Amtrak is asking for $4.7 billion annually over 25 years. A steep price to pay, but Amtrak says the service would generate approximately $900 million annually, and would create "more than 40,000 full-time jobs annually over the 25-year construction period. Construction would include new track, tunnels, bridges, stations and other infrastructure.
"Amtrak’s High Speed Rail plan will create jobs, cut pollution and help us move towards a modern and reliable transportation system network in the Northeast," said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). "As countries around the world continue to build out their transportation systems, we cannot afford to fall further behind. This is an important down payment on the massive commitment necessary to bridge our infrastructure gap."
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