Vice President Biden announced last week that the Department of Transportation is awarding a $2.45-billion loan to Amtrak.
The loan, the largest in the department’s history, will go towards updating the Northeast Corridor, which runs from Boston to Washington, D.C. Most of that money will be spent on 28 new high-speed trains, while the rest of the funds will go toward revamping stations along the train’s route.
The trains, which are scheduled to arrive in 2021, will be capable of reaching 186 miles per hour. The current Acela trains on the Northeast Corridor go about 150 mph (while Japan’s maglev bullet trains reach 200 mph).
The new trains will also increase passenger capacity, operate more frequently and have better Wi-Fi,more on-board food options and power outlets at every seat.
Penn Station in New York City and Union Station in D.C. will receive major makeovers with the loan money. During peak travel, trains between New York City and D.C. will depart every half hour, and trains between Boston and New York will come every hour.
Amtrak’s northeast infrastructure is well past its prime. The Northeast Corridor is over 100 years old and is still hand-operated by levers in some places. Some of the bridges, which date back to the 19th century, require a massive rehaul merely to stay operational. The reconstruction would help eliminate speed restrictions and delays in service.
If the Northeast Corridor were to stop operating for just one day, it would cost $100 million in congestion and productivity losses, according to a congressional report.
Repairs to the corridor are expected to spur economic development along the route, increase ridership and make the trains more reliable and efficient in all types of weather.