By Henry Grabar, Aug 09, 202111:34 AM
As part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is edging ever closer to passage, Congress is set to give Amtrak $30 billion for the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, part of a $66 billion grant for the network nationwide.
To some, this may seem like a good step toward realizing a future of American train travel that’s more in line with the high-speed, low(er)-cost systems in countries like Japan and France. Alon Levy, a mathematician who works on the Transit Costs Project at New York University, estimates that somewhere between $15 billion and $20 billion would be needed to implement a high-speed, fairly affordable, and frequently running train system between Boston and Washington.
But Amtrak seems to have less ambitious plans for the “greatest investment in Amtrak’s 50-year history.” Rather than using the funds to build an efficient, high-speed rail in the Northeast, Amtrak has allotted $30 billion for one single project: Gateway. Gateway would restore the aging tracks that bring commuters from New Jersey to New York City, rebuild an existing tunnel, construct a second tunnel, and expand Penn Station.