ALBANY – How about a train ride from New York City to Scranton, or expanded service from Albany to Boston, Rochester to Erie, Pa., and Pittsburgh to Philadelphia?
Amtrak late Wednesday released a proposed map of new and expanded service if it can land the $80 billion proposed by President Joe Biden as part of his American Jobs Plan, a massive $2 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s aging infrastructure.
Amtrak has long been beleaguered by financial woes and desperately needed upgrades, making the quasi-public corporation unable to expand and improve service and causing it to become a regular target of criticism for slow and unreliable service.
And no where is its blueprint larger than across the Northeast, where its hub is in Penn Station in Manhattan, the largest transit center in the nation and runs from all points North, South, East and West.
Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is the busiest railroad in North America, with about 2,200 trains a day over some portion of the Washington-Boston route and about 18 million trips a year, before the COVID-19 pandemic, through its spine of Washington-New York-Boston and connecting corridors to Harrisburg, Pa.; Springfield, Mass.; Albany; and Richmond, Va.
Amtrak said it would bring “energy-efficient, world-class intercity rail service” to up to 160 new communities across the nation.
“President Biden’s infrastructure plan is what this nation has been waiting for,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. “Amtrak must rebuild and improve the Northeast Corridor, our National Network and expand our service to more of America.”
He said the Northeast Corridor has major tunnels and bridges that are mostly a century old and need to be replaced and upgraded to avoid dangerous failures.
So with the $80 billion, Amtrak said it would be make repairs, improve trip times and expand to underserved communities across the nation.
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“This would create jobs, improve the quality of life, reduce carbon emissions and generate economic growth,” the company said.
Amtrak released a broad map Wednesday that showed where new and improved service might go if the money is approved by Congress.
Amtrak displayed a vision of adding service from New York City to Scranton and Allentown in Pennsylvania; a route from Manhattan to Nassau County on Long Island; and new services from Albany to Boston.
Other expanded services would run on the existing lines from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh; Buffalo through Cleveland and Detroit; and New York through Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Amtrak also displayed a new route from Rutland, Vt., to Montreal and other one from Boston to Concord, New Hampshire.
In a speech Wednesday in Pittsburgh, Biden talked the need to upgrade the nation’s rail system, which he has long been an advocate.
In fact, he had gained the moniker “Amtrak Joe” because he would take the train daily from his Wilmington, Delaware, home to Washington, DC. as a senator.
“The American Jobs Plan will build new rail corridors and transit lines, easing congestion, cutting pollution, slashing commute times, and opening up investment in communities that can be connected to the cities, and cities to the outskirts, where a lot of jobs are these days,” he said Wednesday.
Joseph Spector is the Government and Politics Editor for the USA TODAY Network’s Atlantic Group, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany
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