Sunday, March 15, 2009

Obama boosts Amtrak funding

The Boston Globe ran a story about the Obama administrations announcement the other day that the fed is pumping $1.3 billion into Amtrak, half of it directed to the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington. I'm happy to see the federal stimulus money is coming to Amtrak and into the NEC. Hope we can see some tangible improvements in the Amtrak over the next couple years.

Some points from the article with finance numbers and specific projects:

"Amtrak has been left out - in my opinion, much too long," said Joe Biden, who estimated that he has taken 7,000 trips on the rail line.

The $1.3 billion grant will double the size of the system's capital investment budget over the next two years, and will be used for capital improvements as well as safety upgrades, resulting in faster and more frequent train travel, lawmakers and transportation officials said. Amtrak's total annual budget is $3.2 billion, with $1.49 billion coming from federal subsidies.

The rail system plans to use $82 million to refurbish 68 passenger rail cars, returning them to service and increasing capacity on trains. Another $105 million is slated for replacement of the moveable bridge over the Niantic River near East Lyme, Conn. Without the bridge replacement, passengers between Boston and New York face delays or travel disruptions because the 102-year-old bridge cannot handle fast-moving trains, the White House said. Another $60 million will be used to install Positive Train Control, a technology that helps prevent collisions. The work will be done on the New York to Washington corridor and on the Porter, Ind., to Kalamazoo, Mich., route. Budget constraints have prevented Amtrak from making basic repairs in recent years and passengers have paid for it with overbooked trains, lower capacity, and slower speeds. The upgrades will make trains run faster, and added passenger capacity will save gasoline and commuter hours by encouraging more people to favor Amtrak over car travel.

The increased funding for Amtrak is "going to make America more productive," senator John Kerry said.


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