Amtrak unveils $117bn high-speed rail plan

The US government-owned passenger rail carrier said it would take it 30 years to build a 686km-long high-speed rail line between Washington DC and Boston. In related news, China said it will build 6,000km of high-speed rail in the next two years.

Amtrak, the US government-owned passenger rail carrier, has unveiled a bold plan to install a high-speed rail line linking all the major cities between Boston and Washington DC.

Amtrak: building high-speed
rail slowly

The 220 kilometer-per hour service would cost $117 billion dollars and would take 30 years to build, Amtrak said in a conceptual plan for the service posted on its website. The resulting service would be “cutting in half or better” the existing travel time along the 686-kilometer route between the two cities.

Amtrak did not identify any ready funding sources for the rail service. Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari said “there could be a variety of sources and we're just starting the conversation” about how to finance the project, including what role the private sector will play in its development.

“Although it is too early to lay out every element, there is every reason to believe there will be opportunities for [public-private partnerships],” Magliari said.
“There are people whose interests have been stirred,” Magliari added.

As a first step, though, Magliari said Amtrak will seek to get money from Congress to flesh out the details of its plan. Those dollars would likely come in the next transportation bill passed by Congress, Magliari said.

In related news, Xinhua, the official news agency of the Chinese government, said a high-speed train in eastern China set a new world record for speed: 416 kilometers per hour.

China already has 7,055 kilometres of high-speed rail in service, Xinhua said. In two years, it will build an additional 6,000 kilometres, according to Xinhua.

Asked why China can build high-speed rail so much faster than the US, Magliari said that was a “political and public policy question” above his pay grade.