Trains are just objectively awesome and, when run properly, provide a clean, affordable way to travel between cities without having to fly. But after decades of underinvestment, the U.S.’s rail infrastructure lags behind the rest of the developed world. Thankfully, the Biden administration is working to change that. Today, the White House announced a new $8.2 billion investment in high-speed rail, providing funding for 10 rail projects across the country.
The two largest projects funded by this new investment are in California. One will allow Brightline to build a rail line between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Rancho Cucamonga, California, just east of Los Angeles. Once completed, passengers will be able to travel to and from Las Vegas in about two hours. Construction should create about 35,000 jobs, while operations and maintenance should create an additional 1,000 permanent jobs. Ultimately, the new rail line will connect with LA’s Metrolink commuter rail.
The second project will connect Bakersfield and Merced, California, moving one step closer to creating a direct line between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The new electric trains will travel at speeds up to 220 mph, which could eventually result in a trip that takes about two hours instead of the six or so hours it currently takes to drive. Constructing the line should provide about 11,000 jobs, all of them union.
Other packages will fund projects that include a line in North Carolina between Raleigh and Wake Forest as part of the eventual plan to connect Raleigh to Richmond, Virginia, as well as a new line between Washington D.C. and Richmond. Chicago’s Union Station will also get upgrades, as will the the Pennsylvania Keystone Corridor, New England’s Downeaster corridor, the Montana section of Amtrak’s Empire Builder long-distance line that connects Chicago with the Pacific Northwest and a rail bridge in Alaska.
Additionally, the administration plans to eventually upgrade 15 existing routes, establish 47 extensions to existing and new routes, and fund seven new high-speed rail projects.