President Biden frequently mentions his fondness for Amtrak, which began in the 1970s, when he would travel home from Washington to Delaware every night to care for his two sons after his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car crash. Mr. Biden, who took an estimated 8,000 round trips on the line, has pledged to inject billions in rail.
Rail advocates say he is now taking steps to fulfill some of those promises.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $66 billion in new funding for rail to address Amtrak’s maintenance backlog, along with upgrading the high-traffic Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. It also proposes several changes to the legal mission of Amtrak, which rail experts hailed as a win for passenger rail.
The bill includes new language that would change Amtrak’s goal to “meet the intercity passenger rail needs of the United States” rather than achieving “a performance level sufficient to justify expending public money.” It would also add language that prioritizes service in rural areas in addition to urban ones.
“That is a really significant change because implicit in that is that we’re not trying to make Amtrak into a profit-making venture,” said Jim Mathews, the chief executive of the Rail Passengers Association. “We’re using it to create services that are needed by the taxpayers of the country.”
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/02/us/politics/amtrak-trains-infrastructure.html