Amtrak advances high-speed plans, ignores GOP calls for privatization

"The selection of KPMG is the result of a highly competitive procurement process that showed us there is real interest and enthusiasm in the financial community for advancing the Amtrak NEC high-speed rail project," Amtrak Vice President of High-Speed Rail Al Engel said in a statement announcing the contract.

"The Amtrak high-speed project is critical for the future of the Northeast megaregion and we are interested in identifying innovative business approaches for attracting private capital and combining it with public financing sources to help us build it," Engel added.  

KPMG will work on the rail financing plan with several other companies, including DWH Strategic Advisors, Sharon Greene & Associates and TranSystems, Amtrak said Tuesday.

Plans call for the first 220 mph trains to run between New York and Philadelphia by 2023. The service would eventually be expanded from Philadelphia to Washington, New York to Hartford, Conn., and Hartford to Boston, in that order, the company said.

After a crop of newly elected Republican governors moved to derail large chunks of President Obama's plan for nationwide network of high-speed railways by rejecting money for projects in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, Republicans in Congress have moved to block Amtrak from being involved in projects in the Northeast, where rail systems are already numerous and popular.

However, Democrats have sharply resisted the proposal and Amtrak has stood by its own high-speed rail plans.

About $745 million of the $2.4 billion that was rejected by Florida was recently redirected to the Northeast rail expansion project.