Massachusetts Congressman calls for $205B high speed rail program

May 22, 2020

In an interview with Wired magazine, U.S. Representative Seth Moutlon (D.-Mass.) unveiled his national plan for building a high-speed rail network meant to connect cities such as Chicago with Atlanta and Portland with Vancouver, Canada. His plan taps in at an estimated $205 billion.

High-speed rail has been the dream of many a legislator, but projects, unlike those in Europe, have been difficult to get off the ground, or sustain once in construction.

According to a press release, Moulton sees construction of a high-speed rail network as getting the economy back on track, creating competition in transportation, offering U.S. residents cleaner and more reliable commutes, and reduced travel times.

The representative’s plan calls for:

  • Investing $41 billion in high-speed and higher-speed rail through grants administered by the Federal Railroad Administration over five years, with incentives of $38 billion or more in nonfederal funding.
  • Expanding metrics used by states and cities for transportation planning to include wider economic benefits for more informed investments.
  • Creating funding flexibility and transit-oriented development incentives for nonfederal partners, including state and local transportation agencies and private partners.
  • Developing performance-based safety regulations and standards for high-speed rail to reduce project costs and expedite development.

Moulton said his plan, if ratified, would create more than 2.6 million jobs over a five-year period and make high-speed rail a competitive option against road and even air travel. Both alternatives are already subsidized by the federal government. It has not been determined if or when the House will take up Moulton’s proposal for consideration.