Vice President Joe Biden announced Friday afternoon in Wilmington that Amtrak will get a $2.45 billion federal loan to upgrade the Northeast Corridor’s passenger rail infrastructure, including tracks and trains. It will be the largest single loan in U.S. Department of Transportation history.
“There’s no better way to say ‘we’re open for business’ than closing the largest loan in DOT history,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement Friday. “America needs to go big on infrastructure, and we’re not just talking the talk.”
Amtrak plans to repay the loan with increased revenue from the more frequent train service.
Amtrak is also contracting with Alstom to produce 28 next-generation high-speed trainsets that will replace the equipment used to provide Amtrak’s premium Acela Express service.
The contract is part of the $2.45 billion that will be invested on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor (NEC) as part of a multifaceted modernization program to renew and expand the Acela Express service.
The new trainsets will have one-third more passenger seats, while preserving the spacious, high-end comfort of current Acela Express service.
They will also have modern amenities that can be upgraded as customer preferences evolve such as improved Wi-Fi access, personal outlets, USB ports and adjustable reading lights at every seat, said Amtrak. The trainsets will also meet the latest Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) guidelines including a Crash Energy Management system.
“As more people rely on Amtrak, we need modernized equipment and infrastructure to keep the region moving,” said Chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors Anthony Coscia.
Amtrak’s new trainsets will operate along the Washington – New York – Boston Northeast Corridor initially at speeds up to 160 mph and will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph and thus will be able to take advantage of future Northeast Corridor infrastructure improvements.
“The Northeast Corridor is a national economic engine that carries a workforce contributing $50 billion annually to the national GDP,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
“Amtrak’s continued investment in modernizing its fleet will only serve to enhance this vital rail link between Boston and Washington D.C. while allowing for safer and faster travel at a time when passenger demand is expected to rise. Strengthening our nation’s infrastructure is essential to the economic growth of our region and the nation and this investment by Amtrak will help ensure the reliable service travelers expect,” he added.