"Amtrak Joe" Biden Reveals High-Speed Rail Plans

It's a $53 billion investment over the next six years. The ultimate goal: Giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.

Yesterday, "Amtrak Joe" Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to Philadelphia's historic 30th Street Station to reveal the administration's new, refined plans for America's high-speed rail. In short, President Obama is calling for a $53 billion investment over the next six years—including $8 billion next year—with the ultimate goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years. (This comes on top of the $10.5 billion already devoted to HSR—$8 billion of Recovery Act funds and $2.5 billion from the 2010 budget.)

We've long pined for the rapid build-out of a HSR network, and this announcement is a good sign that the administration isn't backing off some bold earlier claims. Even more encouraging is this language from the White House press release that followed Biden's announcement (emphasis mine):

The proposal will place high-speed rail on equal footing with other surface transportation programs and revitalize America’s domestic rail manufacturing industry by dedicating $53 billion over six years to continue construction of a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.


Biden's speech was also smart to include the economic advantages of rail:

“When you talk about the investments we’re making in rail, they pale in comparison to investment you’d have to make in runways or highways. And that’s before you factor in the environmental benefit of taking cars off the road.”


The core structural elements of the plan from the press release:

  • Core Express: These corridors will form the backbone of the national high-speed rail system, with electrified trains traveling on dedicated tracks at speeds of 125-250 mph or higher.
  • Regional: Crucial regional corridors with train speeds of 90-125 mph will see increases in trips and reductions in travel times, laying the foundation for future high-speed service.
  • Emerging: Trains traveling at up to 90 mph will provide travelers in emerging rail corridors with access to the larger national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.
  • \n

The six-year plan mirrors the length of the proposed transportation budget authorization, so in theory this could all get approved in one fell swoop. But don't expect it to be so simple. Congressional Republicans, who will have to approve the funding, have all but guaranteed any new spending proposals to run into a brick wall. (And trains have recently, perplexingly, been a prime target of conservative vitriol.) But if the administration keeps up with the smart, pointed messaging, popular support could overwhelm partisan ideology.

Not to further dampen your American rail pride, but Talking Points Memo has a great slide show of awesome, superfast, ultra-efficient HSR systems already in place throughout Europe and Asia. Flip through it and weep.

Also, The Onion: Obama Replaces Costly High Speed Rail Plan With High Speed Bus Plan.

Official White House Photo by David Lienemann


Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News

An anonymous White House official claims President Trump cruelly limited Hispanic immigrants in their new book, "A Warning."

The book, to be released on November 19, gives an alleged insider account of the Trump White House and paints a picture of the president as a chaotic man who lacks the mental and moral acumen required for the job.

The anonymous staffer says that Trump once feigned a Hispanic accent and made fun of women attempting to immigrate to the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
Yad Vashem

Since 1992, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been holding reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and rescuers once a year. But the tradition is coming to an end, as many have died or are too frail to travel. What might be the last reunion of its kind took place when a 92-year-old woman met up with the two surviving family members that she helped hide during the Holocaust, and their descendants.

Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor introduced Melpomeni Dina (nee Gianopoulou) to their almost 40 family members, all decedents of the Mordechai family, the family of seven that Dina and her two sisters hid during WWII. "There are no words to describe this feeling," Dina told the Jeruselum Post. "It is very emotional for us to be together again."

Keep Reading Show less
via Facebook / Autumn Dayss

Facebook user and cosplayer Autumn Dayss has stirred up a bit of Halloween controversy with her last-minute costume, an anti-Vaxx mother.

An image she posted to the social network shows a smiling Dayss wearing a baby carrier featuring a small skeleton. "Going to a costume party tonight as Karen and her non-vaccinated child," the caption over the image reads.

Keep Reading Show less