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$8.2 billion in grants awarded for passenger train improvements, including new high-speed rail lines: ‘[These] will impact every region nationwide’

“A once-in-a-generation opportunity to think smart and think big about the future of rail in America.”

"A once-in-a-generation opportunity to think smart and think big about the future of rail in America."

Photo Credit: iStock

Good news for fans of rail travel — $8.2 billion in grants have been awarded for route improvements and additions across the United States, including new high-speed rail lines.

The United States Department of Transportation announced that it will fund 10 passenger rail projects nationwide, as well as “corridor planning activities that will impact every region nationwide.” 

Highlighted projects include high-speed rail service in California’s Central Valley and a new high-speed system between California and Nevada, expected to serve more than 11 million passengers annually, as a White House release notes.

Some of the projects that will be considered for “future passenger rail expansion” (including some high-speed upgrades) would more robustly connect Oregon with British Columbia, Dallas with Houston, Minnesota’s Twin Cities with Duluth, Tucson with Phoenix, New Orleans with Baton Rouge, Atlanta with Nashville, and Chicago with numerous Midwestern cities.

“Today, the Biden-Harris Administration takes another historic step to deliver the passenger rail system that Americans have been calling for — with $8.2 billion for faster, more reliable, expanded train service across the country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Dec. 8. 

He added that, “With this funding, we’ll deliver America’s first high-speed rail on a route between Southern California and Las Vegas, complete major upgrades for riders in Virginia, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maine, Montana, and Alaska, and announce a comprehensive plan that makes it easier to expand passenger rail lines in 44 states.”

Creating a robust rail system is crucial to protecting the environment, as passenger vehicles like cars and trucks contribute more significant pollution to the atmosphere, which leads to the dangerous overheating of our planet. 

Air travel is even worse for the environment — estimated at up to 42 times worse than Eurostar trains, in terms of total pollution impact per passenger per hour, reports the BBC. Adding ground-based alternatives like rail travel in the U.S. will help reduce pollution nationwide. Efficient rail systems already exist in countries like India, Italy, and Indonesia, so it’s about time the U.S. catches up.

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law gave us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to think smart and think big about the future of rail in America, and we are taking full advantage of the resources we have to advance world-class passenger rail services nationwide,” said Administrator Amit Bose, of the Federal Railroad Administration, in a statement

“Today’s announcement is another step forward as we advance transformative projects that will carry Americans for decades to come and provide them with convenient, climate-friendly alternatives to congested roads and airports. We’re thinking about the future too with comprehensive and systematic planning efforts to transform the U.S. intercity passenger rail network now and in the years to come,” Bose added.

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