'Amtrak Joe' Biden makes a run for 2020

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Then-Vice President Joe Biden at the newly renovated Wilmington, Del., Amtrak station dedication in March 2011.
Michael T. Burkhart
WASHINGTON, D.C. – "Amtrak Joe" is making another run for the White House. Former Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday he is running for President of the United States in 2020. The campaign is Biden’s third bid for the White House, having also unsuccessfully run in 1988 and 2008.

Biden has a long running railroad connection – when he represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate, he daily traveled Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor between Wilmington and Washington, D.C. His Amtrak commuting was born of tragedy. Shortly after he was first elected to the Senate in 1972, his wife and baby daughter died in a car accident. His two sons were injured. The train became his means of being home with his sons each night.

Through the next few decades, Biden became friends with several Amtrak employees and fellow passengers, earning him the nickname “Amtrak Joe.” In 2016 Biden said: “I have traveled over 2,100,000 miles on Amtrak. I have made over 8,000 - roughly 8,400 round trips. I believe it’s about 257 miles a day. And these men and women have become my family.”

Just before he won the vice presidency in 2008, Biden told one voter, “If we get elected, it will be most 'train friendly administration ever,'" according to CNN. Unfortunately, while the Obama Administration pushed for high speed rail, its proposals never gained traction, and Amtrak underwent little change from previous administrations.

One notable success came in 2016, when Biden facilitated a $2.45 billion federal loan to Amtrak to buy 28 new train sets for the Northeast Corridor, which should begin arriving in 2021. Also included was money to upgrade four stations, including Washington Union Station and Baltimore Penn Station.

Biden made the announcement of the loan from the former Pennsylvania Railroad station in Wilmington, which in 2011 was renamed the Joseph R. Biden Jr. Train Station. At the time of the loan announcement, Biden said, “why in this country are we so boneheaded to not understand the essential value of a rail system that is modern throughout the whole country? Why do we argue about whether or not it makes sense.” He called the Northeast Corridor an “overall security net” for the economy. “We can’t make this country work without rail,” he added.

Biden enters a crowded field of Democratic candidates, with 20 announced candidates so far, all vying to unseat President Donald Trump in next year’s election.

Another candidate, U.S. Rep. Seth Moultin of Massachusetts, also has railroad connections. Before he ran for Congress, Moulton worked as managing director of the Texas Central Railway, a private company working with the Texas Department of Transportation to create a 240-mile high speed rail line linking Dallas and Houston. His platform includes support for high speed rail infrastructure in the U.S.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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