US President Biden has the opportunity to reverse the fortunes of the country’s ailing rail network and spark the second great railway revolution.
America’s railways are expected to see an uptick in investment and an improvement in services under the Biden administration. The new president is a known train enthusiast and has taken on the nickname of “Amtrak Joe” after the brand name of the national long-distance rail operator.
During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden called for ‘sparking the second great railroad revolution’ pledging to ‘make sure that America has the cleanest, safest, and fastest rail system in the world – for both passengers and freight’.
Biden is a long-term advocate of using trains as a sustainable alternative to roads and aviation and plans to make it a key component of his net-zero economy pledge.
He has previously claimed that he will modernise and upgrade passenger rail throughout the country, with a focus on constructing new high-speed tracks and faster connections between metropolitan areas. This would also help create more jobs in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors.
The country’s railway network is widely accepted as being inefficient, particularly passenger rail, which has reeled under the strain of reduced traffic, long-existing inefficiencies and chronic underfunding.
The rail sector has struggled under the Trump administration
According to MarketLine, the US passenger rail sector had total revenues of $25.8bn in 2019, representing a compound annual rate of change (CARC) of -0.1% between 2015 and 2019. Decline in recent years has been caused by revenues failing to keep up with costs, which has caused leading companies to consistently register losses. Budget cuts have also been an issue.
In March 2017, the Trump administration released the budget highlights for the upcoming fiscal year, cutting funding to the Department of Transportation (DoT) down to $16.3bn, which was 13% less compared to previous years.
This article originally appeared on Railway Technology