As I’ve said many times before, high-speed rail will transform American transportation for generations to come. And I'm excited to see this program take shape. Right now, we've got eight projects underway and Amtrak's Chicago-Kalamazoo route recently added the first 110-miles-per-hour service outside the Northeast Corridor.
This morning, I had the opportunity to thank an organization whose members have been great advocates for this essential passenger rail network, the U.S. High Speed Rail Association. Thanks in no small part to the USHSR Association, high-speed rail is coming to America.
And high speed rail remains a major priority for President Obama and Vice President Biden. In fact, the President’s vision for an America built to last--the budget he proposed last month--would provide 2.5 billion in 2013 as part of a $47 billion, six-year investment to continue construction of a 21st century high-speed passenger rail network.
We envision an America in which 80 percent of people have access to high-speed rail. We envision a network that whisks passengers from downtown to downtown while they work comfortably on their laptops and portable devices. We envision a network that takes cars off the road so trucks can travel between cities on highways that aren't choked with traffic.
And we know that as this system emerges, economic growth and opportunity will follow.
Progress Rail isn’t the only company experiencing success – this is a story that is repeating itself across the country. To date, 30 rail companies from around the world have pledged that, if selected for high-speed rail contracts, they’ll hire American workers and expand their bases of operations in the United States.
And once track is laid and stations constructed, high-speed rail will spur economic development. It will generate quality jobs at small businesses all along its corridors.
Simply put, over the long-run, high-speed rail will bolster America’s economic competitiveness.
Our parents and grandparents sacrificed so we might have the chance to lead the lives that we do. Today, we can do the same by giving our children and grandchildren a transportation alternative that connects them with a new century of opportunity.
At the end of the day, that is what President Obama’s plan for high-speed rail is all about, and I am thrilled that there are American businesses and American leaders who are working to make it happen.
Together, our legacy will be more than trains, tracks, and ties – it will be an America built to last.