U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak asks Congress for $5.4 billion

David Shepardson for reuters.com

U.S. passenger railroad Amtrak on Thursday asked Congress for $5.4 billion in the budget year starting Oct. 1 as it still grapples with the impact of COVID-19.

President Joe Biden, who plans to attend a 50th anniversary event on Friday for Amtrak in Philadelphia, has called for $80 billion in new spending on high-speed rail projects.

Amtrak asked for $3.88 billion for “base needs” and to address the impact of COVID-19 and $1.55 billion in additional U.S. funding needed to address Northeast Corridor infrastructure projects and begin advancing new corridor routes across the country.

Amtrak, which received about $2 billion from Congress in the year before the pandemic, has been awarded $3.7 billion in emergency funding since March 2020.

The Biden administration’s April 9 budget called for $2.7 billion for Amtrak, a 35% jump over pre-COVID levels.

Amtrak is seeking $31 billion from Congress over five years to overhaul the Northeast Corridor, the Boston to Washington, D.C., corridor that is the busiest passenger rail route in the country. It wants about $16 billion alone for a series of projects in the New York City area called “Gateway.”

Amtrak wants to expand across the United States and by 2035 add up to 39 new corridor routes and up to 166 cities. It hopes to serve 20 million additional people annually.

Amtrak said in its letter to Congress that railroad travel is a way for U.S. states to connect more people to more places without further reliance on overburdened highways.

“A timely investment in America’s mobility would provide far-reaching economic stimulus to help struggling local economies while creating jobs in the railroad,

construction, and supporting industries that will result in growth across the country,” it said.

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