The expectation for more and more Americans to begin “riding the rails” comes from Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, who released their Amtrak Corridor Vision in May 2021. The thorough, 76-page document (which can be read here) promised to bring more trains, station routes, serviceable cities, and better service by the year 2035.
The total vision outlines a plan to not only introduce up to 39 new routes to those already offered by Amtrak but to also potentially enhance over two dozen existing routes and improve service in major cities that the company sees as underutilized and “underserved by rail.” These cities receiving the proposed improvement would include Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Another goal proposed by the company is to “bring new intercity passenger rail service” to cities that have had either extremely limited or nonexistent train service before now. These cities receiving the rail service installation would be those like Wichita, Kansas; Phoenix, Arizona; Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Operating under a rebranding over the past decade, Amtrak primarily operates under the moniker “Amtrak Connect US,” and its recently announced proposal, known as the “Amtrak Corridor Vision” is expected to produce an $8 billion annual benefit to the economy by 2035. This would be in addition to an additional $195 billion accumulated through capital investments made over the next 15 years, thus bringing a near $200 billion economic activity to the United States.
CEO of Amtrak Bill Flynn released a statement alongside the company’s Corridor Vision in which he outlined the impact of proper investment in the nation’s railroad systems by saying, “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.”
Amtrak’s initiative has gained hefty online support from consumers participating in regular, routine travel; this is due to the fact that national support has begun to swing toward railway transportation as it’s often seen as a cheaper, safer, and less worrisome alternative to flying. When compared to traveling America by automobile or airplane, train-based travel doesn’t have the extra fees, gridlock traffic, or unpredictable weather delays that are all-too-common with road trips and air travel.
Apart from garnering support from individual consumers, Amtrak’s proposal also has attracted the attention of policymakers, legislators, and those in support of environmental conservation as the presented expansion of Amtrak’s services will reportedly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Traveling on Amtrak trains outside of its populated Northeast Corridor produces up to 55% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than driving and up to 30% fewer emissions than flying. Released by Amtrak last year in an effort to outline its efforts toward environmental sustainability in the future, the company stated in its FY2020 Sustainability Report that they had reduced their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 31 percent since 2010 and further planned to reduce that amount by an additional 9% by 2030.
Remarking on the vision he foresaw for the company’s environmental impact, Flynn stated, “by investing in innovative equipment and new technologies, protecting vital rail infrastructure from climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and expanding access to new communities, we can work together to create a future where intercity rail is operated on clean energy. Investment decisions made today position us to achieve these goals. These visions and our strong sustainability story continue to evolve and grow every year.”
In order to better prepare yourself for the likely changes coming cross-country traversal, consider traveling by train on your next vacation outing, and you’ll be railway-acclimated before you know it.
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