Last News The boss of Amtrak has a plan to make you love trains again. Will it work?
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An Amtrak engineer leans on the locomotive as passengers disembark Amtrak’s California Zephyr at the end of its daily 2,438 mile journey to Emeryville / San Francisco from Chicago, which lasted approximately 52 hours on March 25, 2017 in Emeryville , in California. Credit – Joe Raedle – Getty Images
In much of the United States, taking the train is not very convenient. Slow service, delays, and poor access often make alternatives like flying or driving more appealing. But on March 31, President Joe Biden – nicknamed “Amtrak Joe” for his frequent trips between Delaware and Washington, DC – unveiled his U.S. Jobs Plan, which includes $ 80 billion in new funding for Amtrak, the country’s leading passenger rail service. . Would that be enough money to give the country the high-speed rail network it deserves?
Probably not. But Amtrak CEO William Flynn, who took over the for-profit, semi-public rail operator last spring, has big plans anyway. Ahead of the pandemic, Amtrak, which turned 50 on May 1, appeared to be on the right track: it posted revenue of around $ 3.5 billion in fiscal 2019, up from nearly 3.5% year-on-year, largely due to record attendance. But revenues fell about 31% in 2020 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, dropping to $ 2.4 billion in fiscal 2020. After overcoming the pandemic, Flynn’s next job is to revive Amtrak – as well as to deal with skeptical lawmakers who say – subsidized service is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
In a recent interview with TIME, Flynn said his first priority was to expand passenger service to new cities, while assessing and repairing existing infrastructure, primarily along the vital northeastern corridor, which connects Washington, DC, to New York and to Boston. and carried 12.5 million passengers in 2019. Flynn says about half of the $ 80 billion would go towards long-awaited repairs to century-old infrastructure along this route, like the East River Tunnel, the Tunnel from the Hudson River and the Susquehanna River Bridge. The remainder would be used to expand intercity passenger rail service and repair infrastructure outside the northeast corridor.
“It really underscores the level of investment required from two perspectives,” says Flynn. “Bringing our northeast corridor and the overall underlying infrastructure from Washington to Boston in good shape, because there have been decades of underinvestment in this corridor. But in addition, the president talked about expanding intercity passenger rail service across our country, and that’s something we also have a very clear plan and strategy for.