Senator Kerry Joins Vice President Biden to Announce Rail Funding
Massachusetts Will Benefit from $1.3 Billion Investment Which Includes Northeast Corridor
Today, Senator John Kerry (D - MA.) joined Vice President Joe Biden at an event in Washington's Union Station to announce a $1.3 billion investment in America's rail system from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Northeast Corridor stands to gain up to $700 million from the investment. About $60 million of the funding will go directly to the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC) technology for trains on the Northeast Corridor, a line with multiple stops in Massachusetts. This technology will help prevent delays, collisions, and derailments, improve safety, and allow trains to increase their speed and cut travel times for commuters. Last month, Kerry announced the inclusion of $8 billion for high speed rail in the ARRA.
Over the years, Kerry has pushed for improvements and expansions to our country's passenger rail system. Last year, along with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Kerry authored the High-Speed Rail for America Act, which he plans to reintroduce this year.
"This is a major announcement for all of us who believe in the future of passenger rail in this country," said Senator Kerry. "It will not only create jobs in a time of economic crisis, but it's an investment in our long term stability. America deserves a world-class rail system that will unclog our highways and airports while improving the environment. Amtrak has no greater champion in the Obama Adminstration than Vice President Joe Biden. On behalf of the 245 million commuters traveling in Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast Corridor, I want to thank the Vice President for his tireless work to boost the future of this country on the strengthened back of a revitalized, modern rail system."
Kerry's remarks from today's event as prepared are below:
It's more than appropriate for Vice President Joe Biden to make this announcement this morning. Before his election last November, Joe took that ride from Wilmington to Washington and back again - one hour and thirty five minutes on the Regional, one hour and twenty minutes on the Acela - on Amtrak almost daily for thirty seven years.
And now that he's no longer a regular Amtrak passenger we're finally getting around to spending seven hundred million dollars to make improvements in the Northeast Corridor. Sorry, Joe. Timing is everything.
But Senators Specter, Carper, and Kaufman are now Amtrak commuters, so they'll get to enjoy the fruits of your labors, and Amtrak's portion of the $1.3 billion we are announcing today. And so will the 245 million commuters who are traveling on the Northeast Rail Corridor each year.
Amtrak has had no greater champion than Joe Biden. When others in Washington wanted to stop it in its tracks, Joe spoke up. To him, passenger rail was good public policy. But it also was personal to the guy that the Amtrak engineers, conductors, porters, and baggage handlers simply called "Joe" every morning. He was the original "Morning Joe" and a Regular Joe to his Amtrak friends. Amtrak has no greater champion in the Obama Administration than Vice President Joe Biden.
This is obviously a very important announcement for all of us who believe in the future of passenger rail in this country. Not only because it creates jobs in a time of economic crisis. But it's because it's an investment in the long term strength of our country unclog our highways and our airports and improve the environment all at the same time.
We already know that a train can carry a ton of freight an average of 410 miles on just one gallon of diesel fuel. So imagine the greater savings in energy and the further declines in pollution if we keep making the right investments in a modern rail system.
Much of the history of this country was written in the steel rails of railroads. They opened the continent to pioneers and to commerce.
The 19th Century historian Charles Kingsley recognized the importance of the railroads throughout the world. To Kingsley, railroads were just one sign that, as he put it, "We are, on some points at least, in harmony with the universe."
That may be overstating it a bit, but the future of this country is also going to be written on the strengthened back of a modern rail system. That is certain.
And with the kind of leadership we're getting from the President and from Joe, we'll get Joe back on Amtrak, sending the Vice President home to visit his mother Jean Biden at 150 miles per hour.