Vice President Joe Biden announced Friday that the U.S. government will cut a mammoth $2.45 billion check to Amtrak in what will be the largest single loan in the Transportation Department's history.
Biden announced the loan to Amtrak, the heavily government subsidized U.S. rail-line, at the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Railroad Station in Wilmington, Del., Friday afternoon.
Amtrak will use the loan to purchase 28 new train sets for the Acela service on the Northeast Corridor, which will offer 40 percent more seats than currently offered on Acela trains making stops in Washington, D.C., New York, and Boston.
The government cash infusion comes the same day Amtrak threatened to cut rail service from Boston to New York and Washington, D.C. because of an ongoing dispute with the state's transportation authority over who should pay for maintenance of the Northeast Corridor, the Boston Globe reported earlier Friday, citing court documents.
"This loan is a key step to providing investments needed to help keep high speed trains moving throughout the region, and to help all commuters in the Northeast Corridor," Biden said. "We need these kinds of investments to keep this region – and our whole country – moving, and to create new jobs."
Amtrak plans to use the loan to provide necessary track upgrades between the New Carrolton and Baltimore stations, and perform station and platform improvements at four of the busiest stations in the Northeast Corridor. Those are Moynihan Station, Washington Union Station, Baltimore Penn Station, and New Carrolton Station, the White House said in a statement.
The upgrades are aimed at improving the safety of the Northeast Corridor mainline, and improve passenger experience and reliability, according to the release.
"There's no better way to say 'we're open for business' than closing the largest loan in DOT history," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "America needs to go big on infrastructure, and we're not just talking the talk. The Build America Bureau has put the pieces in place to get big, transformative projects done, and this is just the first big marker."