Then-Vice President Joe Biden (left) took a tour of a new Amtrak Cities Sprinter locomotive during an event in Philadelphia in 2014.
Amtrak is looking forward to working with President-elect Joe Biden and Congress to help get the nation’s economy moving again during and after the pandemic, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Flynn said over the weekend.
Flynn also reiterated his request that Congress act now on pandemic relief and economic stimulus funding, which would enable Amtrak to recall furloughed employees, restore service frequency on long-distance and state-supported routes and advance capital projects on its network.
“As we enter our 50th year of service, we stand ready to play an important role in helping our nation recover and grow for the future,” Flynn said in a prepared statement.
Flynn also noted the role Amtrak and passenger rail serves in helping to address climate change.
“As we look to the future, expanded service is essential to decarbonizing our transportation network, which generates roughly 28% of the U.S. annual carbon emissions. With cars and trucks responsible for nearly 82% of those emissions, we need passenger rail alternatives throughout the nation,” Flynn said.
Biden is known for his love of Amtrak and has been a longtime rider. During his career as a U.S. senator, he regularly used the rail service to travel between the U.S. Capitol and his home in Delaware. The Biden-Harris campaign used Amtrak for a campaign event this fall.
Some Amtrak advocates hope that the national intercity passenger railroad will see more federal support under a President Biden administration. The railroad has furloughed more than 2,000 employees and reduced service frequency on various routes across the country to address a catastrophic revenue loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the railroad does not receive $2.8 billion in emergency funding by December, the railroad may have to cut another 2,400 employees, Amtrak officials have warned.
Meanwhile, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said the president-elect “has made it clear” that he intends to work with Congress on investments in infrastructure, including transit and rail.
“‘Amtrak Joe’ and I share the goals of a robust national rail network and turning the transportation sector — the No. 1 contributor to carbon pollution in the U.S. — into one that is clean, efficient , reliable and resilient to extreme weather events,” DeFazio said in a prepared statement.