High-Speed Rail Funding Push in DC
This week, a group of House and Senate members argued for more funding for HSR in the infrastructure package being debated in Congress. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) said in a press conference that “we have a once in a generation opportunity to invest in infrastructure. We cannot squander that by investing in the last generation’s infrastructure.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) joined Moulton in calling for fairness and equity in HSR funding. “For every buck that we’re going to put into a car and a bridge, we want to put a buck into rail,” Ocasio-Cortez said. "When we build high speed rail, these communities—from urban communities to rural communities—can be connected to economic opportunity without having to move and pick up their whole lives."
"And that connects our country. It creates understanding. It builds community. And will make America a better place.”
President Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal, the “American Jobs Plan,” calls for $80 billion for rail projects, but upgrades to Amtrak lines would get the bulk of those funds.
Moulton is one of 23 House members who’ve called for investing $105 billion in a network of high-speed and “high-performance” trains connecting New England and New York. The group said in early June that it could “serve as a prototype for new 21st century rail networks in the nation’s other mega regions.”
Moulton noted that in the world’s “biggest high speed rail corridor”—between Beijing and Shanghai—trains travel at up to 250 mph. “If they can do it in China,” he said, “we ought to be able to do it right here at home, in America.”
Last September, in a video call with the Alliance to talk about his plan to invest $205 billion in a national HSR network, Moulton said “we are not living as well as we could—we’re not as productive a society, an economy—because we don’t have [good] transportation options.” In March, Moulton introduced the proposal as a bill in the House as a way to shape discussions of the infrastructure package.
On Wednesday, Moulton noted that a study of the Cascadia Corridor—connecting Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland/Eugene—found that adding a single lane of highway in either direction on Interstate 5 would cost twice as much as building a high-speed rail system capable of traveling at 250 mph.
“Think about that trade-off,” he said. “We can pay twice as much for one lane of highway—and we’re still going to be stuck in traffic. We can all get in electric vehicles. We’re just going to have silent traffic jams. We’re not going to get there any faster. But you build high-speed rail, you connect those cities. You can get faster to where you need to go, to where you need to work and where you can afford to live.”
Negotiations over the infrastructure bill are ongoing.