President Joe Biden headed to Las Vegas on Dec. 8 to showcase $8.2 billion in funding for 10 major passenger rail projects across the country, including to spur work on high-speed, electric train routes that could one day link Nevada and California, as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The administration says the 350.8-km (218-mile) train route linking Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga, CA, about 65 km (40 miles) east of downtown Los Angeles, may one day serve more than 11 million passengers annually.
The administration hopes the investment through federal and state partnership programs will help to boost prospects for the long-discussed project, which supporters say could revitalize travel in the American West and critics argue is too costly.
Another electric rail line getting funding has been billed as the nation’s first high-speed route and is eventually planned to traverse California’s Central Valley and extend to San Francisco and on to Los Angeles, with trains reaching up to 220 mph (354 kph).
The funding the president will highlight won’t be nearly enough to cover the full costs of either project, but signals the Biden administration’s commitment to spurring train travel in a nation that has long celebrated the spirit of fast cars and open highways.
“The bottom line is that, under President Biden, we’re delivering world class passenger rail service that Americans ought to be able to expect,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on a conference call with reporters.
Other train projects getting funding include upgrades to heavily traveled corridors in Virginia and North Carolina, with the eventual goal of linking Richmond and Raleigh by rail. Funding will also go to improvements to a rail bridge over the Potomac River to bolster passenger service in Washington and cover train corridor upgrades in western Pennsylvania and Maine, while expanding capacity at Chicago’s Union Station, one of the nation’s busiest rail hubs.
This story was compiled from news from the Hill, the Associated Press and ABC News.