White House wants to spend $53 bn on high-speed rail

February 9th, 2011 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, Feb 9 (IANS/EFE) US Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday announced a six-year, $53 billion plan to create a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.”As a long time Amtrak rider and advocate, I understand the need to invest in a modern rail system that will help connect communities, reduce congestion and create quality, skilled manufacturing jobs that cannot be outsourced,” he said during a joint appearance in Philadelphia with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“This plan will help us to do that, while also increasing access to convenient high speed rail for more Americans,” said Biden, who commuted back and forth to Washington on Amtrak while serving as a senator from Delaware.

President Barack Obama announced in his Jan 25 State of the Union speech a plan to bring high-speed passenger rail service to 80 percent of the US population within 25 years.

As the first step in implementing that plan, the proposed 2012 budget that Obama next week will deliver to Congress will include $8 billion to broaden access to high-speed rail networks.

The investment, as the White House explained, will focus on the development or improvement of three types of interconnected corridors.

The Core Express will comprise corridors forming the backbone of the national high-speed system, with electrified trains travelling at speeds of 400 kph or higher.

Corridors of the Regional type will feature trains running at 200 kph, while Emerging rail corridors will operate at speeds of up to 150 kph and provide access to the larger national and intercity passenger network.

Up to now, the government has allocated $10.5 billion to the construction of a high-speed rail network, of which $8 billion is from the stimulus plan approved in 2009 and $2.5 billion comes from the 2010 federal budget.

“By clarifying the long-term federal role in passenger rail, this six-year programme will provide states and cities with the certainty they need to make long-term transportation plans for their communities,” the White House said.

–IANS/EFE
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