Vice President Biden Announces High-Speed Rail Initiative at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station
Philadelphia was chosen because it is the junction of the Keystone Line, which connects Pittsburgh and Philadelphia through Harrisburg and the Northeast Corridor which connects Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
As a frequent rider of Amtrak, VP Biden has been a big supporter of high-speed rail in the United States. President Obama has made it his goal to have 80% of Americans with access to high-speed rail. The announcement was also part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future” campaign started at the State of the Union and continued both by the President and members of his administration.
Vice Presiden Biden joked, “I’ve made 7,900 trips on Amtrak and I have only overslept three times.” The Vice-President used to commute from Wilmington, a stop on the Northeast Corridor line to Washington when he was a Senator.
The announcement details include three major initiatives: Core Express, Regional and Emerging Lines. The Core Express will upgrade three major lines through electrification of the lines so that trains can travel at speeds up to 250 mph. On the Regional lines, trains will be able to travel at a maximum speed of 125 mph and on the Emerging lines, trains will travel at a maximum speed of 90 mph.
According to a release from the White House, recent improvements have increased ridership on Amtrak, to the point where more people are taking the train from Harrisburg to Philadelphia than are flying the same route. The same goes for the Philadelphia to New York corridor as well as the Philadelphia to DC corridor.
The administration is highlighting the fact that much of these projects will not require building new tracks, rather, upgrades on exisiting rails will lower the costs of the project and improve the infrastructure that already exists.
Other dignitaries at the event included: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, U.S. Reps. Brady and Schwartz and several members of Philadelphia’s City Council.