Vice President Joe Biden came to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station Thursday — not to catch a train, but to unveil Amtrak’s new electric locomotives.
Known for his train travel between his Delaware home and Washington, D.C., the longtime U.S. senator joked about falling asleep while taking a late-night train home and winding up sleeping through his stop. He said if he woke up in Philadelphia, he knew he’d made a mistake.
These days, as vice president, Biden travels with an entourage. But he is still one of Amtrak’s biggest, if not most vocal, fans. He called Amtrak “a critical artery supporting the country’s growth and commerce” and said, without the train system, the Northeast Corridor would be a traffic nightmare.
“Amtrak carries more passengers between New York and Boston than all the airlines combined. Amtrak! Amtrak is on time 83 percent of the time in the Northeast Corridor compared to the airlines, which are about 15 percent.”
Biden also pointed out that the new vehicles are built in America — providing good, middle-class jobs.
“The locomotive brakes were made in Baltimore, the paint was mixed in Delaware, the handrails were made with pride right here in Philadelphia, the electricians in Middletown made the electric components, seats from Exton, cab signing came from East Pittsburgh, installation from Newark, the basic plastic parts from New York, lighting from New Haven, rubber parts from Boston,” he said.
The first of the new locomotives is scheduled to be used for passenger service Friday, on a train that will travel from Boston to Washington, D.C.
The locomotives aren’t just new, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said; they’re better.
“Amtrak, working with Siemens, has been able to deliver a new innovation — a train that is lighter, safer, more powerful and more efficient,” Foxx said. “One that contains a braking system that actually feeds energy back into the grid.”
The new locomotives are built in Sacramento, with parts supplied from nearly 70 manufacturers representing more than 60 cities and 23 states.