President Obama Reveals 4-Year, $19 Billion Proposal for Trains
February 26, 2014
Written By Sean Jeans Gail
St. Paul Union Depot (Photo courtesy Minnesota Public Radio)
In a visit to St. Paul’s restored Union Depot, President Barack Obama outlined an ambitious $302 billion, 4-year investment plan for America’s roads, bridges, railways, and transit. $19 billion of that will go towards rail, with another $72 billion directed to transit.
The President was in St. Paul to celebrate the renovation of Union Depot, which returned intercity passenger trains back downtown after more than 30 years. The restoration occurred as part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which provides funding to projects of regional significance that generate positive economic development. Thanks to the TIGER program, Union Depot is being transformed from a dusty, overrun old building into a modern regional transit hub.
And while $600 million for intermodal projects is a pretty big deal, it was dwarfed by the $302 billion surface transportation plan, which includes a one-time infusion of $150 billion in revenue from corporate tax reform.
The President’s plan includes $19 billion in dedicated funding for rail programs. That would mean almost $5 billion each year for high performance passenger rail programs, with “a focus on improving the connections between key regional city pairs and high traffic corridors throughout the country.”
There’s reason to be cautious: this Congress hasn’t been active at the best of times, much less right before an election. But it’s an amazing thing when the President of the United States pushes for passenger trains to be included as part of a comprehensive transportation program. If enacted, it would mean predictable, sustainable levels of funding for trains, and that allows Amtrak and the states to plan, to buy new equipment, and to make much needed investments in critical infrastructure.
Expect more next week. But until then, rest assured NARP will be working to advance the rights of American passengers.
"On behalf of Amtrak’s onboard service staff, I want to thank the Rail Passengers Association for honoring their hard work with this award. The past couple years have indeed been difficult for Amtrak onboard service staff – coping with furloughs and job insecurity, adapting to changing protocols and services, not to mention the unfortunate events such as a tragic derailment and a fatal shooting. Nevertheless, our dedicated members at Amtrak have handled these hurdles with the care, attention and diligence for which they’re known. We thank Rail Passengers for their acknowledgement of our members’ hard work and, as always, look forward to seeing you on the rails."
Arthur Maratea, TCU/IAM National President
December 21, 2021, on the Association awarding its 2021 Golden Spike Award to the Frontline Amtrak Employees.