News & Reviews News Wire Amtrak ‘Corridor Vision’ report addresses expansion plans, calls for $75 billion

Amtrak ‘Corridor Vision’ report addresses expansion plans, calls for $75 billion

By David Lassen | May 27, 2021

Passenger carrier says increased service could generate $8 billion annually in economic benefits by 2021

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Head shot of gray-haired man in suit
Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn (Amtrak)

WASHINGTON — Amtrak today released a report offering more details on the “Connect US” map it released earlier this year for service expansion. What the company is calling its “Corridor Vision” report calls for a $75 billion federal investment over 75 years to add 39 new routes and enhance service on 25 others, leading to service in 47 of the 48 contiguous states and new stations in more than half of those states.

The passenger railroad says this expansion would generate $8 billion in annual economic benefits by 2035, along with an additional $195 billion in economic activity resulting from capital projects during the same period. The full report is available here.

In an accompanying letter to Congress, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn reiterated earlier calls for legislative support for the expansion plan, requesting that support on four fronts:

— Creation of a corridor development program that would allow Amtrak to pick up all initial costs for new or improved service, with states eventually assuming responsibility for those costs [see “Amtrak establishes priorities …,” Trains News Wire, April 29, 2021]

— Establishment of a dedicated funding source, the Passenger Rail Trust Fund, as outlined in legislation introduced earlier this year [see “Digest: Legislation would create permanent funding for Amtrak,” March 26, 2021];

— Passage of the Rail Passenger Fairness Act, which would increase Amtrak’s ability to enforce its right of operating preference over freight trains [see “Legislators introduce bill to give Amtrak right to sue …,” News Wire, April 29, 2021];

— Clarification of existing law to ensure Amtrak has access to host railroads to launch or expand service. “Too often,” Flynn’s letter says, “host railroads resist and stall any efforts to expand service.” The current fight over Amtrak’s effort to revive service between New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., reflects this issue [see “Analysis: Amtrak’s Gulf Coast filing to test right of access,” News Wire, March 22, 2021].

“Now is the time to invest in our country’s infrastructure and future,” Flynn said in a press release. “New and improved rail service has the ability to change how our country moves and provides cleaner air, less traffic and a more connected country.”

15 thoughts on “Amtrak ‘Corridor Vision’ report addresses expansion plans, calls for $75 billion

  1. Charles and Steven, you could be right. I guess the only way to settle this to ask UP’s VP Ops to see if they’ve changed their tune. However, I’m far from convinced that Flynn and Gardner even want to run the Sunset. Or any of the other LDs for that matter. It’s been suggested on these Newswire forums and at that this 2035 “Vision” is really a vision that trades the LDs for a bunch of disconnected “corridors” (where the states would eventually pay 100% of the costs). If Flynn and Gardner wanted the LDs they would be lobbying for funding for Superliner replacements, actually so they could standardize with a new generation of LD cars, single-level ADA compliant cars that could go anywhere on the system. And a plan to at least a second train on each route to operate on complimentary schedules so every city and town would get at least one train at a civilized hour. And for the Sunset setting a priority for getting back into Phoenix. But that’s not what seems to be happening.

    1. Actually, yes it is. Amtrak has said multiple times that the funding would be used to replace the Superliners.

  2. Before looking at the map provided, I guessed that it will still be South Dakota that won’t have Amtrak service, and I was right. Poor South Dakota. /sarc

  3. Mr. McFarlane, it’s not the Capitol Limited that operates tri-weekly in the east but the Cardinal. As for the Sunset going daily, we’ve been through that before. Joe Boardman’s administration proposed that to Union Pacific and UP presented a laundry list as long as Stephen Gardner’s arm for mainline track capacity expansion that was to be paid 100% by Amtrak (read taxpayers). I doubt it would be any different today. And therein lies the utter wrongheadedness of Amtrak’s and NARP/RPA’s proposed legislation to allow host railroads to be punished for passenger train delays due to “freight train interference”. The same goes for Amtrak “right of access” to establish new routes. The problem, as I’ve stated before on this forum, is not priority. It’s the lack of capacity. Add enough capacity and operating flexibility and under normal operating conditions the problems of priority largely go away. But as long as the politicians and other people of influence see widening a highway to “alleviate congestion” as in the natural order of things but “widening” a rail line as impossible, just not something we do, we will never see the route/frequency expansion Amtrak officialdom claims it wants to implement.

    1. MARK —- We read in Fred Frailey’s last-ever blog (the one that was up on this site for a year or so) that UPRR traffic has decreased on all main lines. So why is it there’s no capacity for Amtrak? There’s is capacity for two-mile-long container ships, but no capacity a nine-car Amtrak train.

  4. Mr Flynn/ Congress – Create dedicated funding source; split Amtrak in two Amtrak NE & Amtrak National separate funding, separate Board & Presidents….there! fixed it for you!

    1. This is a bad idea as it will lead to the fragmentation of the National System.

  5. How about some more long distance trains? Amtrak was created to operate a National system. Not just a bunch of disconnected corridors.
    Mike Lustig

    1. We are working on that. Hopefully some legislative tweaks and an expansion of the BSPRA will get us there.

    2. Look at the original proposal, there aren’t really any disconnected corridors, the existing national network remains as is, with the exception I believe of increasing Sunset Limited and Capital Limited to daily service…at least Flynn isn’t proposing eliminating long distance in favor of short corridors. Start with corridors, build those up, then you can look at expanding long distance services.

    3. Flynn hasn’t proposed that true. Gardiner did say that Amtrak’s future is corridors. Amtrak’s mission in 1971 was a nationwide rail system

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