Amtrak looks to private investors for high-speed rail

Amtrak officials are looking to private investors for help in financing a high-speed rail service in the Northeast corridor.

The rail service has seen usage spike for the last several months amid high gas prices. Much of the jump in traffic has been in the Northeast between Boston and Washington, D.C. The Northeast Corridor is one of the busiest passenger lines in the U.S., according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

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Amtrak Vice President for High-Speed Rail Al Engel on Thursday said the company would seek proposals from private investors to help finance the project, which would create a 220 mile per hour train on a line running from Washington to Boston.

Proposals from private investors are due by June 10.

“We want to engage the private sector as much as we can,” Engel said at a press conference Thursday.

President Obama has made high-speed rail a priority of his administration, but his push for investments has been blocked in some states by Republican governors who said they worried they’d be stuck with some costs.

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal railway funds.

Engel also said Amtrak is looking to complete the high-speed rail project by using a “stair-step” approach, gradually upgrading the service in order to reach the ultimate goal of 220 mph capability.

On May 6, Amtrak was awarded $450 million from the Department of Transportation to upgrade a 24-mile stretch of the Northeast Corridor to a maximum speed of 160 mph. Currently, Amtrak’s fastest service, Acela Express, travels at an average of 83 mph across the majority of the Northeast Corridor, with a top speed of 150 mph.