Railroads

Amtrak chief outlines expansion plans with infrastructure spending

Amtrak’s CEO Bill Flynn said that funding from the $1.2 infrastructure bill that passed on Friday would spur the largest expansion in the railroad’s history, outlining some of the cities likely to see increased service. 

“Phoenix to Tucson is a great example,” Flynn said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” of the new routes that Amtrak intended to introduce. “Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati. Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Those are essentially new routes where service practically does not exist today.”

Flynn added Nashville would be his dream destination for a new Amtrak stop. “I think Nashville would be a great place to stop. I mean, how many country-western songs involve trains?” he said. 

Flynn’s remarks come after the House finally passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package late Friday night, including about $66 billion for the passenger rail system. The bill will now go to President Biden, a lifelong Amtrak passenger, for final approval.

In the interview, Flynn added that the bill’s level of funding would be “absolutely transformational and more funding than we’ve had in our 50 year history combined.” 

The CEO noted that Amtrak’s ridership was at about 65 percent of what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic stopped many people from commuting or traveling. 

When asked about environmental issues, Flynn acknowledged that the train system’s goal to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030 was “never enough” but still would mark an “important goal and an important achievement.”

Amtrak has also been the subject of increased security efforts announced by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to protect rail transit and airlines from cyber attacks.

But some, including the Association of American Railroads, which represents Amtrak, have said proposed cybersecurity reporting mandates and other measures aimed at increasing security are counterproductive and risk over-reporting incidents.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Amtrak Amtrak expansion Biden infrastructure bill bill flynn Joe Biden

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