On Amtrak’s 50th anniversary, President Biden showered light on the importance of investing in the country’s rail network, which would further strengthen the country’s economy by creating jobs and benefit the environment by decreasing the use of fossil fuels. The president further proposed to expand Amtrak’s rail service across the country by adding more routes that stretch from the midwest to the coasts.
"It's going to provide jobs, and it will also accommodate jobs," Mr. Biden said, claiming that making towns and cities Amtrak stops would help revitalize them economically. "There's so much we can do. And it has an incredibly positive impact on the environment. It has an incredibly positive impact on work."
He praised the transportation employees by adding that “when the world stopped in many ways due to the spread of the coronavirus, our employees, really indeed all transportation employees, made sure America kept moving. They were on the front lines every day, providing the essential transportation services to those who needed it.” He even highlighted Amtrak’s accomplishments by saying that “Amtrak is ready to provide the safe journey that travelers are seeking as our nation recovers from the effects of this pandemic.”
While delivering the speech, Biden traveled the memory lane and recounted one such incident where he took the train as a senator to reach home on his birthday. After celebrating his birthday with his daughter, Biden hopped back on the train and reached Washington to vote in the upper chamber. He mentioned that he commuted to work on Amtrak’s Acela and before that on its predecessor, the Metroliner, the entire time he was in the Senate and praised the workforce.
“We have a truly dedicated workforce at Amtrak that carries on the legacy of the railroaders who served before them and who take great pride in connecting America,” Biden said.
Apart from recollecting memories, President Biden promoted his multi-trillion-dollar legislative agenda. He suggested a $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, of which he promised to invest $621 in improving transportation infrastructures such as roads, bridges, and public transit, including $80 billion explicitly dedicated to Amtrak. On the other hand, Amtrak has estimated that it has a $31 billion repair backlog just for trains in the Northeast Corridor.
He said that he envisions high-speed rail corridors in heavily populated areas, such as between Atlanta and Charlotte or Chicago and Detroit, where trains would travel at speeds up to 220 miles per hour. Later, he envied the rail system of China and mentioned that “it has 23,000 miles of high-speed rail; a train travels at 220 miles per hour. He further affirmed that they are working on 400 mile-per-hour trains.” Biden pointed to Amtrak’s new Avila Liberty trainset parked behind him and said he couldn’t wait to ride the new trains. He urged Americans to dream with him about a train traveling at speeds of 220 miles an hour or trains linking Chicago and Detroit or even a train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, which he said could be “pretty popular on Fridays.”
Adding further, he stated that if America could straighten out three curves from Washington to New York, it would be possible to cover the distance in an hour and 32 minutes. According to Biden, a lesser travel time “has an incredibly positive impact on the environment, incredibly positive impact on work and opportunities.”
In his speech, the President called the workers his “family” and promised to work towards bettering the future of American rails. Biden had earned the reputation of a frequent rider of Amtrak from Delaware to Washington D.C. while he was a senator. He continued using the railway as vice president, hence inspiring the moniker "Amtrak Joe."
Before his appearance in Philadelphia for the speech, Biden published his 2020 sustainability report, highlighting American railways’ efficiency and cutting edge sustainability. Biden promised that the new trainsets would significantly improve on efficiency and cutting edge technology.
Biden stumbled on his words and lost track of what he was saying while culminating the address. He added, “When we were — when I was Vice President with Barack, he allowed me to put together a budget for Amtrak. And it had money for high-speed rail at 200 miles an hour from — from Char- — excuse me, from Charlotte — one — and another line going from — in Florida down to Tampa. Another line — if we had moved, Gov, we’d have that tunnel fixed in New York now. The money was there to get it done.” The crowd must have raised their eyebrows at this nonsensical chatter!
While concluding his address, President Biden thanked the crowd “for making so many birthdays possible,” he added that he believes “Amtrak’s best days are ahead.”