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US investment plans: Biden dreams of high-speed trains

Status: 10/27/2021 10:30 am

Dilapidated bridges, old trains and even a train station in Las Vegas: Traveling by train in the United States is expensive, but not fun. Rail fan Joe Biden wants to replace it with billions of investments.

By Claudia Saare, ARD Studio Washington

This is the oldest passenger train boarding for Boston at Union Station in Washington. Although rail freight is considered profitable in the United States, passenger transport is hopelessly outdated. For the modernization activities of the state railway company Amtrak – the abbreviation for the American track – it is the “superior railway”. Robert Buentes of the Transportation Center said in an interview.

Claudia Sare
ARD-Studio Washington

“The tracks in the Northeastern United States are the oldest in the country and need to be refurbished very urgently,” he explains. “They are mega projects that require investment of billions of dollars, such as a tunnel under the Hudson River, a tunnel in Baltimore and basically bridges everywhere.”

In fact, the US government’s infrastructure package plans to invest billions in railways. Bridges, tunnels, tracks, points, signal systems, signal boxes and trains need to be partially upgraded and railroads widened and added.

New York to Washington in four hours

President Joe Biden helped advance the plans. For many years, Amtrak-Joe, as he was called, moved from Wilmington, Delaware to Washington. The train fan dreams of high-speed railways connecting American cities: “It will provide an opportunity to expand passenger rail traffic. Just imagine: a two-hour train ride at 220 miles per hour between Atlanta and Charlotte!”

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The reality of trains in the United States is different: the train is slower and, on top of that, more expensive. It takes four hours to travel from Washington to New York and often costs $ 200 – one way, remember. Jim Matthews, of the Rail Passengers’ Association, says there is an urgent need to change the route network and trains: “The immediate benefit of this investment is an increase in departure frequencies on some routes, for example between Wisconsin and Illinois.”

On the rails – for the environment

Big cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix are not yet connected to the rail network. American Railways has been on a downward trend since the 1980s – competition for airplanes, long-distance buses and private cars is very high. But if we want to reduce greenhouse gases in the United States in the long run, the transportation system must change.

Switching to a train would be a better and more environmentally friendly alternative, says Matthews: “Getting cars off the road and getting people on trains reduces greenhouse gases. The fuel consumption of diesel engines is more efficient than millions of cars,” he says. Pre-calculates. Also: “Rail travel will be more stable if more engines are powered by electricity instead of diesel.”

But first the US Congress must pass the infrastructure package. Even after that, it can take years for travelers to realize the modernization process.