Joe Biden is bolstering his reputation as the US’s biggest Amtrak fan.
The president has long been known for his love of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, or Amtrak for short, which runs inter-city services in most US states.
Visiting a train maintenance shop in his home state of Delaware yesterday, Biden showcased more than $16 billion (almost €15bn) in federal investments for rail travel along the busy Northeast Corridor.
He’s travelled the route which stretches from Boston to Washington DC. “thousands” of times.
“We're finally getting it done,” he said of long-delayed improvements.
The president highlighted spending to modernise 25 passenger train projects along the rail line at an event in Bear, about 12 miles (20 kilometres) from his home in Wilmington.
“Why, in the United States of America, do we not have the best rail system in the world?” Biden asked.
Noting that better train service in some of America's busiest locales would help ease car traffic and potentially reduce fossil fuel use, he added, “There's so much more we can do to better the environment and quality of life.”
The Northeast Corridor is the busiest train line in America
Amtrak runs about 800,000 trips daily on its Northeast Corridor, the White House says, which makes it the nation’s busiest rail corridor. Monday's event combined two things close to Biden’s heart: Amtrak and Delaware.
“It’s good to be home,” he declared. “There’s no better place to make this announcement than in my home state.”
The funding for the rail improvements comes from the roughly $1 trillion (€0.94 trn) bipartisan infrastructure law that Biden signed nearly two years ago. It’s one of several legislative achievements he’s trumpeting in a presidential race that could feature a rematch against former President Trump.
From the law, Amtrak will get about $66 billion (€62bn) in new investments, according to the White House.
“I’ve been talking about this for a long time, I know," Biden said of rail improvements. "Finally, finally we’re getting it done.”
Biden promises to make train travel better if re-elected
Biden, who has made infrastructure spending a centerpiece of his reelection campaign, used his speech to criticise Republican backers of Trump's “Make America Great Again” movement for wanting to “slash” Amtrak's budget.
“We're trying to make train travel easier, faster, safer, more reliable,” he said. “They're trying to make it slower, harder and less safe.”
Before his formal remarks, a beaming Biden chatted and laughed with Amtrak maintenance shop workers. He asked one how she was doing and when the reply came, “Good, how are you?" Biden responded, “Well, I got about $16 billion for you,” drawing laughs.
He told another of the coming public works spending, “You know you’re going to be getting a lot of new trains, man."
A blue and white sign along the tracks read “Northeast Corridor Improvement” and “Project founded by President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law”.
Biden has travelled more than 1 million miles on Amtrak
During his 36 years as a senator, Biden travelled back and forth from Wilmington to Washington daily. The president says he's logged more than 1 million miles on Amtrak during his public service career, and displayed firsthand knowledge of the route on Monday.
Speaking about a key rail tunnel in Baltimore, Biden said it was a “major checkpoint, but it’s also a major choke point.” He talked about leaks there that can cause delays, as well as sharp curves elsewhere that force crowded trains to slow way down.
“You don’t need to tell me," Biden said of frequent train delays. "I lived it.”