WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) hailed the Obama Administration's announcement of a comprehensive plan to build a national high-speed rail network plan for a long term infrastructure investment in the United States. The proposal would dedicate $53 billion over six years to continue construction of a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.
"As a daily Amtrak rider, I know very well the problems that plague our nation's passenger rail service along the Northeast Corridor, including tracks in Delaware," said Sen. Carper. "Today's announcement is further evidence that the Obama Administration is dedicated to investing in and building a world class high-speed rail network in this country. An investment in high-speed rail is an investment in our nation's future, keeping us competitive in the global economy. The Administration's proposal will spur domestic job creation, improve air quality, ease congestion on our overcrowded roadways and reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Long-term funding commitments are essential to send a signal to domestic manufacturers that the United States is serious about investing in high speed rail.
"Last year, Amtrak's ridership on the Northeast Corridor reached an all time high of 15 million passengers," continued Sen. Carper. "The popularity of this service shows that Delawareans and many other Americans are turning to passenger rail for their transportation needs. However, high demand on the Northeast Corridor also underscores the need to maintain our existing infrastructure in a state of good repair. Amtrak estimates that the Northeast Corridor needs $5 billion just to keep the trains and track from further degradation. For that reason, I applaud that the Administration's proposal recognizes the importance of investing significant funding in our existing passenger rail infrastructure. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Administration to identify a funding source for this proposal and to support the investment in our nation's infrastructure, including high-speed rail, to help provide more access and better results for Delawareans and riders across the country."
About the President's proposal:
As the first step in this comprehensive, six-year plan, the President's Budget for the coming fiscal year would invest $8 billion in expanding Americans' access to high-speed passenger rail service. In order to achieve a truly national system, these investments will focus on developing or improving three types of interconnected corridors:
- Core Express: These corridors will form the backbone of the national high-speed rail system, with electrified trains traveling on dedicated tracks at speeds of 125-250 mph or higher.
- Regional: Crucial regional corridors with train speeds of 90-125 mph will see increases in trips and reductions in travel times, laying the foundation for future high-speed service.
- Emerging: Trains traveling at up to 90 mph will provide travelers in emerging rail corridors with access to the larger national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network. This system will allow the Department – in partnership with states, freight rail, and private companies – to identify corridors for the construction of world-class high-speed rail, while raising speeds on existing rail lines and providing crucial planning and resources to communities who want to join the national high-speed rail network. With rail ridership reaching all-time highs in many areas of the country during 2010, these investments will ensure that more Americans have the option of taking a train to reach their destination.
This long term commitment builds on the $10.5 billion down payment the Obama Administration already devoted to a national high-speed rail system – including $8 billion of Recovery Act funds and $2.5 billion from the 2010 budget.
High-speed and intercity passenger rail projects across the country will create jobs not only in the country's manufacturing sector, but also in the small businesses that open near modernized train stations. They will connect large metropolitan communities and economies through a safe, convenient, and reliable transportation alternative. They will ease congestion on our roads and at our airports. And they will reduce our reliance on oil as well as our carbon emissions.
By clarifying the long-term federal role in passenger rail, this six-year program will provide states and cities with the certainty they need to make long-term transportation plans for their communities. It will provide businesses the confidence they need to hire American workers. Strong Buy American requirements will create tens of thousands of middle-class jobs in construction, manufacturing, and rail operations. And the proposal will open the door to new public-private partnerships, and attract significant private investment in developing and operating passenger rail corridors.
Today's proposal also streamlines the Department of Transportation's rail programs, making it simpler for states, cities, and private companies to apply for grants and loans. For the first time, all high speed and intercity passenger rail programs will be consolidated into two new accounts: a $4 billion account for network development, focused on building new infrastructure, stations, and equipment; and a $4 billion account for system preservation and renewal, which will maintain state of good repair on Amtrak and other publicly-owned assets, bring stations into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and provide temporary operating support to crucial state corridors while the full system is being built and developed.