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Amtrak seeks millions in funding to expand services

Enhancements and additions to their long-distance network are on the wish-list

Written by
Gerrish Lopez

Riding the rails to get where you’re going is a convenient and usually comfortable option, but sometimes the train doesn’t go far enough. Short routes, like travel between D.C. to NYC, are a breeze. Traveling across the country north to south or east to west? Not so much. Amtrak wants to expand their long-distance network to make it easier to travel by train between major cities.

In addition to applying for billions in funding for infrastructure improvements, Amtrak is asking for $716 million in Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) funding for 16 proposed projects that would improve long distance reliability, reduce travel times and expand service. "These grant applications reiterate our commitment to improving service for all Amtrak customers, from small, rural towns to major metropolitan areas," said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia.

So how would this funding improve rail service? A sampling of proposed projects include increasing service for the Cardinal (connecting New York and Chicago) and Sunset Limited (traveling between Louisiana and California) lines from three times a week to daily and a return of Sunset Limited service to Phoenix; an extension of the Crescent line (linking New Orleans and NYC) along I-20 from Mississippi to Texas; signal improvements on the Southwest Chief route (running between Chicago and Los Angeles) in Colorado and New Mexico; Empire Builder (from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest) rail enhancements in Montana; and a new Crystal City station for service in Arlington, VA.

Members of Congress in the respective states on these routes have responded favorably to the grant applications, praising the improvements as supporting commerce and important links between communities. The improvements are certainly welcome for those who rely on train travel between these cities for work, but for those who are averse to flying and driving, these improvements might also mean a real, reliable (albeit longer) alternative when it comes to travel.

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