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

{mosads}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.

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