Four years ago, President Obama laid out a bold vision for transforming American passenger rail. Since then, DOT and its partners have been working hard to realize that vision, and this morning I had a chance to update members of the US High Speed Rail Association on our progress.
Through our High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, the Obama Administration has invested nearly $12 billion in higher performing passenger rail, funding 152 rail projects in 32 states. In 19 states and the District of Columbia, 52 passenger rail projects worth $3.6 billion are currently under construction, or will be soon.
We have 11 projects that are now complete. And those projects are already paying dividends for the American people.
Last year, for example, trains on the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Detroit corridors began reaching 110 miles per hour – the fastest speeds outside the Northeast Corridor. In two years, trains will run at that speed throughout most of both routes – cutting trip times on each by close to an hour.
In the Pacific Northwest, we are moving forward with 21 projects that will increase the number of roundtrips and cut trip times.
In the Northeast, new service to Brunswick, Maine, has linked thousands of travelers to Portland and Boston and has attracted millions of dollars in private investment and economic development to Brunswick.
- Increase speeds from 135 to 160 miles per hour on critical segments;
- Improve on-time performance; and
- Add more seats for passengers so one of the nation’s busiest corridors can accommodate record ridership and revenue levels that should continue to grow.
And this summer, California will break ground on the first rail line in America with trains traveling at more than 200 miles per hour.
When complete, travelers in the Golden State will be able to escape crippling congestion by boarding a 220-mph train that will whisk them from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours.
Thanks to hard work by the folks here at DOT and by our partners--like those in the US High Speed Rail Association--the future of passenger rail in America has never been brighter.
We have always known that President Obama’s vision for rail wouldn’t happen overnight. But let's remember that it took 10 different administrations and 28 different sessions of Congress to build--piece by piece--the complex interstate highway system we enjoy today.
So, I think we've done pretty well over the past four years, and I can't wait to see what we achieve in the next four.
But let's also remember that if our children and grandchildren are going to reap the benefits of 21st century passenger rail, we will need a sustained commitment from the federal government and from our states, stakeholders, and the private sector.
Together, we have made great progress, but we have miles to go--this is no time to ease off the throttle.