Stephen Gardner (seen above), Amtrak president and CEO, said that the national passenger railroad operator has “been able to create a national network together with tons of state support.”
[Above photo by AASHTO]
Now, with new funding from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA signed into law in November 2021, he said Amtrak seeks to “create new opportunities” for its state department of transportation partners.
“IIJA includes unprecedented investment support to grow [passenger] corridors and create new opportunities for Amtrak-state collaboration,” he explained in the luncheon keynote speech at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Council on Rail Transportation’s legislative meeting on in Washington, D.C.
“Now we need to build much greater scale with the investment dollars we’ve been given, addressing decades of underinvestment,” Gardner pointed out. “We also must find the best ways to enable your vision for corridor growth – so we want to be a better partner for planning.”
He said Amtrak is prepared to fund planning studies for states to advance new and enhanced corridor service.
“And we now have the dollars to make that happen,” Gardner stressed. “Amtrak will reach out to the states in the coming weeks to continue or begin discussions regarding corridor planning, focusing on the things you need from us.
He added that Amtrak is already building a “new team” to focus on this effort – a focus singularly focused on its “primary partners” in passenger rail transportation, the states.
“Our vision is to improve on collaboration and responsiveness, adding capacity to support individual state objectives,” Gardner noted.
“That focus will be on planning and sustainability, so we will be ready for the challenges 10 or 20 years in the future,” he said. “Tons of exciting things coming our way due to the IIJA. There is no better time to be in our industry.”