Vice President Joe Biden visited Philadelphia today to announce a $53 billion high-speed rail plan.
Standing in Philadelphia’s historic 30th Street Station, Vice President Biden made the pitch that it pays to spend money on a modern rail system.
“When you talk about the investments we’re making in rail, they pale in comparison to the investments you’d have to make to runways or highways – interstate highways,” said Biden. “That’s before you factor in the environmental benefit of keeping millions of cars off the road. Or the cost of delays caused by already existing increased congestion in the air and on the highways.”
Since track improvements raised top speeds between Harrisburg and Philadelphia to 110 mph a few years ago, ridership on that corridor has gone up almost 60 percent. Biden said more passengers now travel from Harrisburg to Philadelphia – and then on to New York City and Washington D.C. – by rail than by plane.
Biden said the rail plan will create jobs, grow the economy and protect the environment. “An Amtrak train between Philadelphia and New York carries up to 500 passengers,” he said. “If those folks drove instead, they’d have to use 1,900 gallons of gasoline to get to their destination. The train gets them there with half the energy cost and one fifth of the environmental damage.”
As the first step in the six-year plan, the President’s Budget for the coming fiscal year would dedicate $8 billion to expanding high-speed passenger rail service.
Biden joked about how he frequently traveled by train when he was a Senator.
“As I told the Secretary behind the curtain, I apologize I’m like Pavlov’s dog: if I hear the announcement ‘Southbound to Wilmington,’ I may leave.”