WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s plan to spend $ 80 billion rebuilding the nation’s rail assets could allow Amtrak to pursue the ambitious goal of providing a rail alternative to flying and driving across the country, as it does now. on the east coast.
Amtrak planners have waited for years to resolve a failure in the national grid. Legacy long-distance routes pass through cities and potential large markets where populations are growing, but often at inconvenient times and with long delays caused by conflicts with the freight trains, whose tracks they use.
Providing more frequent daily service could generate gains in passenger numbers, Amtrak contends. Critics say it is a worthless investment in an outdated network.
“Just because someone built a railroad 50 or 100 years ago doesn’t mean we have to pay to maintain it,” said Randal O’Toole, a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute and an enemy of mass public spending. transit. “We have newer technologies. They are called buses. “
Amtrak’s plans largely follow recommendations developed over the years by state governments and Federal Railroad Administration studies under Republican and Democratic administrations recommending the construction of regional rail networks in the Southeast, Southwest, and Middle West.