President Biden has revealed a $8.2 billion allocation for 10 passenger rail initiatives across the country. This marks the most significant federal investment in passenger rail since the inception of Amtrak in 1971.
Originally intending to spotlight the $3 billion federal investment in the high-speed rail line connecting Las Vegas to greater Los Angeles, President Biden’s visit to Nevada takes a more solemn turn following Wednesday’s tragic shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While addressing the incident in a speech to Las Vegas union members, it remains uncertain if the president will visit the nearby campus.
The $3 billion funding for the Las Vegas-Los Angeles rail line constitutes a third of the projected cost for the new Brightline West train line, slated for completion before the 2028 Olympics. Promoted as the “first true high-speed passenger rail system in the nation,” it aims to revolutionize travel.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg shared that the Las Vegas-Los Angeles rail line anticipates carrying 11 million passengers at its peak, completing the journey in approximately two hours—half the time of a typical drive. Additional funded projects include a high-speed Los Angeles-San Francisco train, a rail expansion linking Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, and various upgrades in Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, and other states.
Despite a substantial time gap between funding and project completion, Biden administration officials believe that the president’s focus on these initiatives, coupled with job opportunities during construction, will garner public support for his economic policies. This strategic move aims to influence voter opinions ahead of next year’s election, particularly as recent polls suggest skepticism about the economic impact of President Biden’s tenure. Secretary Buttigieg emphasizes the transformative potential of these projects, drawing inspiration from exemplary passenger rail services in countries like Japan, Germany, Spain, and Italy.