Amtrak Gets $66 Billion for a Major Expansion & Update


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Amtrak is about to get a $66 billion upgrade that could open up new real estate markets. The funding is part of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It’s also the largest amount of government funding for passenger rail in Amtrak’s entire 50-year history.

Hi, I'm Kathy Fettke and this is Real Estate News for Investors. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review.

Amtrak’s CEO Bill Flynn is overjoyed. He had previously laid out a plan for Amtrak upgrades and expansion during the early months of the Biden administration. He told NBC News: “We have a clear vision for how we want to grow our business and reach more of America.”

Amtrak Connects US

The plan is a 15-year strategy called “Amtrak Connects US.” It calls for improvements to existing rail service as well as expansion into new cities and rural areas.

Amtrak says the expansion will reach a total of 160 NEW communities with upgraded service on at least 20 existing routes.

According to NBC News, the Rail Passengers Association has been lobbying members of Congress for several years to get this measure passed. (1) The association’s president, Jim Mathews, says the current funding amount is “a down payment on literally decades of underinvestment.” He says: “It’s hard to explain to people how little this country has spent on rail. We as a country don’t invest enough and it shows.”

Major Upgrade Needed

The Northeast Corridor is an example of that kind of funding neglect. That’s where Amtrak owns most of its own infrastructure and the experts say it needs updating. The director of a rail transportation program at Michigan Tech University says: “To increase ridership, you need convenience and reliability.” He says he’s not sure the Northeast Corridor has either one of those.

Part of the upgrade involves a 450-mile corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston. According to an Amtrak study, that upgrade alone will generate $195 billion in economic activity and create more than 26,000 jobs.

Currently, Amtrak connects more than 600 destinations in 46 states, Washington, D.C., and three Canadian provinces. The only two states within the contiguous U.S. are Wyoming and South Dakota.

New Amtrak Stations in 10 States

Amtrak says that more than 10 states will get new Amtrak stations, including Wyoming. That station is headed for Cheyenne, Wyoming and will go south to Fort Collins, Denver, and Pueblo, Colorado. (2)

Another new station is headed for Columbus, Ohio, which is one of the nation’s biggest cities currently without an Amtrak station. It’ll be connected along a route from Cincinnati-to-Columbus-to-Cleveland.

Las Vegas, Nevada will also get a new station as a destination from Los Angeles. And a second Southern California route that runs through through Riverside County, will head to a new station in Phoenix. That station will also have a new direct connection to Tucson.

A new route through Tennessee will provide train service from Nashville and Chattanooga to Atlanta, Macon and Savannah, Georgia. That will give passengers access to the Georgia coast.

There are plans for a new station in Wilmington, North Carolina which will give passengers direct access to several other cities, and bring them close to the North Carolina coast.

Other new stations are planned for Rockford, Illinois; Iowa City, Iowa; Duluth, Minnesota; Allentown and Scranton, Pennsylvania; Rockland, Maine; Louisville, Kentucky; Montgomery, Auburn, and Mobile, Alabama; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Amtrak plans to connect Houston and Dallas, along with Detroit and Toledo. And there are plans for more rail service across Florida connecting Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville.

The timeline for the entire upgrade plan is from now through 2035. Construction Dive reports that Amtrak carried 32 million passengers in 2019 and expects to have an additional 20 million riders from all these new connections. (3) And when there are new ways to connect, there are new real estate markets to explore.

If you’d like to find out more about Amtrak’s plans for expansion, check the links in the show notes at

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Thanks for listening. I'm Kathy Fettke.


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