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President Joe Biden announced a multi-billion dollar investment aimed at rejuvenating Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor with improvements from Boston to Washington DC.
“We’re announcing historic investment in America’s railroads,” Biden said Monday afternoon at an Amtrak maintenance facility in Bear, Delaware. “Finally we’re getting it done: more than $16 billion, here in the Northeast Corridor. Twenty-five different projects, all to build the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington. It’s part of my agenda to invest in Americans.”
During Biden’s political career before the White House, he was known for riding Amtrak back and forth between Wilmington and Washington. “You don’t need to tell me, I’ve lived it,” Biden said of the need for rail infrastructure upgrades. “I know what it feels like to be stuck on the tracks when you’re trying to get home to see your family.”
Biden pointed to pressing concerns along the corridor with tunnels and bridges that have aged over a century. He warned that the failure to maintain and upgrade these critical pathways could result in substantial financial losses for the nation’s economy.
“This region represents 20% of the gross domestic product of the entire United States of America,” he said. “If this line were to shut down, in just one day, it would cost our economy, the American economy, $100 million a day.
While making improvements to the rail infrastructure will help keep the nation’s economy moving, Biden said it will also help support machinists, electricians, pipefitters, facility workers, boilermakers, and other workers.
“Over 800 people keep trains in the entire Northeast Corridor working in good order and it’s not been easy because some are pretty old trains,” he said. “I’ve met with the workers in these shops, and I made them a promise. I said, ‘I’ll do all I [can], all my power to fight to keep their jobs and to make our rail system better, and to work on the Northeast Corridor.”
That includes workers like Scott Fleming, who’s been a train car repairman for more than two decades at the Amtrak shop in Bear. “This is everything,” he said of the continued support for his work. “This feeds my family.”
Fleming specializes in high-speed trains, handling critical tasks such as air brake valve maintenance, wheel replacement, brake system upgrades, as well as interior improvements like installing seat cushions. While improvements to bridges and tunnels get a lot of attention, he said it’s also important to prioritize having the proper tools and equipment mechanics rely on for their work.
“Priorities are tooling, equipment to make things more efficient, to make our job easier so we could work more toward our capability,” Fleming said. “All the money they put into the tunnels, the bridges, the rails helps out. As far as the shop, it’s all about tooling and investing for people to be working safer [and] more efficient.”
More than 2,200 trains operate on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor every day, serving 800,000 passengers. It’s the busiest rail corridor in the U.S., and one of the busiest in the world.
After the completion of these investments, the anticipated results include a reduction in delays and improved travel times, making it faster for passengers to reach their destinations.
Delaware Gov. John Carney was on hand for Biden’s remarks and pointed to other upgrades beyond the rails that are included in this funding, including $50 million in improvements at the Port of Wilmington in Edgemoor.
“We’ve been trying to do that for several years now to get a new container terminal there,”Carney said. “That will create and secure hundreds of really good paying jobs for longshoremen at work in those ports and provide a good living for their families.”