Biden calls for 'second great railroad revolution' in infrastructure plan

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Former Vice President Joe Biden is calling for a "second great railroad revolution" as part of his presidential campaign's infrastructure plan.

PHILADELPHIA — Former vice president and Democratic presidential primary contender Joe Biden has called for a “second great railroad revolution” as part of a $1.3-trillion infrustructure plan released this week.

While other Democratic candidates have said they support the construction of high speed passenger routes and speak broadly of improving infrastructure, Biden’s plan is the most detailed yet regarding railroads to emerge from the 2020 field.

Biden is no stranger to railroading. When he was in the U.S. Senate, Biden frequently took Amtrak from his home in Delaware to Washington D.C. Biden even earned a nickname: Amtrak Joe.

“Two centuries ago, the first great railroad expansion drove our industrial revolution,” the campaign’s plan reads. “Today, the U.S. is lagging behind Europe and China in rail safety and speed. A 21st-century passenger rail system that connects people across our nation is essential to our competitiveness, to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and to giving more Americans the freedom and flexibility to travel.”

The plan calls for increasing speeds on the Northeast Corridor and greenlighting a new tunnel underneath the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey to cut the travel time between New York City and Washington D.C. in half. Biden also calls for the creation of high speed passenger rail service in the south and west, including the California High-Speed Rail, a project that was scaled back by Democractic Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this year.

On the freight side, Biden called for the implementation of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE), to improve freight traffic flow and commuter-rail travel times in the nation’s rail capital. The plan calls for building flyovers to avoid choke points at junctions.

Lastly, the campaign called for working with Amtrak and freight railroads to electrify more routes.

“Overall, Biden’s rail revolution will reduce pollution, connect workers to good jobs, slash commute times, and spur investment in communities that will now be better linked to major metropolitan areas,” the plan reads.

The Biden campaign writes that it would tap into existing grant and loan programs to pay for the proposals, while also streamlining the loan application process for rail-related projects.

Presidential candidates from both parties have long made big promises when it comes to infrastructure improvements, including rail-related projects. However, recent history has shown that those rail-related promises are sometimes forgotten once the election is over. In 2016, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump vowed to make infrastructure a priority in the White House [see “Trump: One trillion dollars for infrastructure,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 28, 2016], but three years into the Trump administration, little has changed in regard to rail. In 2008, while campaigning with then-Sen. Barack Obama, Biden said if elected, the administration would be the “most 'train-friendly administration ever.” While Obama later pushed for high speed rail improvements, those plans never gained much traction.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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