New cash from the Department of Transportation will double the number of Acela trains between New York and Washington over the next decade.
Transporation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the federal government will dole out $795 million to fund northeast corridor train travel, with over half of that allocated to Amtrak.
"President Obama and Vice President Biden's vision for a national rail system will help ensure America is equipped to win the future, with the fastest, safest and most efficient transportation network in the world," LaHood said.
Amtrak announced that with the new funding, top train speeds between New York and D.C. would increase from 135 m.p.h. now up to 160 m.p.h. after track upgrades. The new funds would also increase the number of Acela trips between the two cities. Amtrak says it will add six new round-trip trains by 2018, and an additional 15 by 2022, doubling capacity.
A part of the award will be spent on regional track maintenance. The Department of Transportation said that $22 million is to be spent on replacing the Susquehanna River Bridge in Maryland. The bridge, over a century old, is a frequent cause of delays because of frequent maintenance needs.
The Department of Transportation wound up with an extra $2 billion when Florida governor Rick Scott passed up on federal cash to fund a high-speed transportation project there. The money would have gone to building a high-speed train between Tampa and Orlando, but the governor did not want to pursue the project.
Florida Congressman John Mica, has been vocal in his criticism of Amtrak and publicly-funded rail projects. "Everything Amtrak touches turns into a big, costly problem," he told Bloomberg news. "It's a Soviet-style, outdated system."
Amtrak was pleased to learn of the award on Monday. The national rail provider said the money will be part of its eventual plan to provide the country with trains moving at 220 m.p.h. "With this investment by the Obama administration," Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said, "the Amtrak vision for high-speed rail in the Northeast is now departing the station and heading down the tracks."