Amtrak’s 15-year, $ 75 billion proposal includes east-west rail expansion, new round trips between Boston and Springfield

The new return trains between Boston and Springfield are part of extensions and service enhancements offered in Amtrak’s recently announced $ 75 billion program over 15 years.corridor vision” plan.

The proposal – which would also establish five new round trips between Boston and Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire – follows positive signals from President Joe Biden, a longtime Amtrak pilot with a $ 1.7 trillion infrastructure bill. planned $ 80 billion in modernization, maintenance and service Amtrak.

In early April, the quasi-public passenger rail company called for long-term investments to strengthen the existing service, create nearly 40 new routes and reach 160 new communities. Amtrak officials say the measures could help create half a million jobs and serve 20 million more passengers than the 32 million who relied on Amtrak trains across the United States in 2019.

Amtrak’s release last week of region-by-region plans, including several investments in the busy Northeast Corridor, came as several local and federal lawmakers continue to offer extended rail service across Massachusetts as fuel for the ‘economy. Rail advocates and local leaders say more train stops would help underserved communities access education, jobs and tourist attractions.

Amtrak says it is committed to building on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s study of east-west rail and working with MassDOT and New York transportation officials “to determine the feasibility of service between Boston and Albany ”, which could lead to two round trips between Boston and Springfield. .

“This new corridor service increases mobility from western Massachusetts and upstate New York to the Boston area and the wider Northeast region connections,” Amtrak said in its plan of vision.

Amtrak officials have said the Concord-Manchester-Boston trips require further analysis from stakeholders, but they argue that the five new daily round trips would also increase mobility for Granite State residents seeking to reach Boston and other centers in the northeast region.

“Amtrak has done an in-depth analysis of population centers and travel markets for the technical framework of the vision,” the company said. “Drawing on existing work in the field and on our own expertise, we have identified around 60 passenger rail markets to be launched or developed. These potential corridors, if developed, would help meet the needs of currently underserved population centers and rural areas, provide travelers with convenient travel alternatives, and reduce congestion on U.S. highways and the air system.

Last month, Senator Ed Markey and Representative Jim McGovern held a press conference at Union Station in Worcester to reintroduce the BRAIN TRAIN Act, short for Building Rail Across Intercity Networks To Ride Around Interior of the Nation. The bill calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation to create a competitive grant program and allocate up to $ 5 billion per year to fund rail projects, especially those that could help underserved communities put their savings back on track. rails.

The bill would provide resources for projects across the country, but Markey and McGovern say the move would likely give the east-west rail effort a boost and potentially connect Springfield and western Massachusetts to communities s ‘stretching from New Haven to Buffalo.

U.S. Representative Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in April that with Biden in the White House, time to invest in rail – including between the eastern and western ends of the state of the berry – never tasted so good. At a press conference at Union Station in Springfield, Neal said he believed Governor Charlie Baker was “coming up” on the idea of ​​improving rail service across Massachusetts.

MassLive reported last month that an AECOM study – prepared for the Connecticut Capital Region Council of Governments and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Springfield – showed that improving rail service could cost up to to $ 9.4 billion over a decade. But the gross regional product could see an increase of $ 47 billion to $ 84 billion over 30 years, according to the study.

Most Republicans in Congress disagree with Biden’s progressive spending plans. Minority Parliamentary Leader Kevin McCarthy recently claimed Three-quarters of the Democrats’ infrastructure proposal corresponded to a “progressive policy wish list” instead of “traditional infrastructure.” The GOP has increased its own infrastructure proposal to over $ 900 billion, but it is still a long way from Biden’s target.

The White House called on Congress to strike a deal within a week, The Associated Press reported. A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans support Biden’s plans.

Many Democratic lawmakers say they are ready to squeeze an infrastructure and jobs package through Congress in the annual reconciliation bill. The spending laws only require simple majority support in the US Senate, which is split evenly between the two main parties. Vice President Kamala Harris can vote in the event of a tie.

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