The $2-trillion infrastructure plan announced by the Biden administration could include upwards of $80 billion to repair and expand the nation's passenger rail network. Some of those improvements could be headed to Southern California, according to an information sheet published by Amtrak.
While Amtrak's Northeast Corridor easily ranks as the busiest passenger rail corridor in the nation, the 351-mile LOSSAN Corridor between San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, and San Diego comes in as a distant second. A 15-year plan released by Amtrak calls for using the potent funding infusion from the Biden infrastructure package to invest in more frequent service along the corridor, and possibly a new service which would make use of existing tracks San Luis Obispo and San Jose in the Bay Area.
A map included with the plan also shows new passenger rail service along existing tracks connecting Los Angeles with Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tuscon.
Nationally, Amtrak estimates that its plan would serve up to 20 million more passengers than the 32 million it carried in 2019 by introducing 30 new routes and upgrading service on 20 existing lines.
"Amtrak has a bold vision to bring energy-efficient, world-class intercity rail service to up to 160 new communities across the nation, as we also invest in our fleet and stations across the U.S," said Amtrak chief executive officer Bill Flynn in a statement. "With this federal investment, Amtrak will create jobs and improve equity across cities, regions, and the entire country – and we are ready to deliver. America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable and equitable train service. Now is our time, let’s make rail the solution.”
Outside of Amtrak's efforts, the federal infrastructure bill could also be a potential windfall for several other passenger rail projects throughout California.
The Los Angeles Times reports that among other projects, the bill could open the door for electrification along the rail corridor between Burbank and Anaheim. Likewise, San Diego area transportation officials could fund a $3-billion tunnel system which would straighten the alignment of trains traveling to and from Orange County and Los Angeles, while also replacing 1.7 miles of track built along crumbling coastal bluffs. Additional legislative efforts are aimed at completing California's controversial high-speed rail system, the first phase of which is now under construction in the Central Valley.
Other complementary transportation projects planned in the Los Angeles area included Metrolink's SCORE program, which envisions spending $10 billion to permit higher-frequency service across the more than 500-mile commuter rail network, and a planned high-speed rail line which would run between Las Vegas and San Bernardino County.
While the Biden administration's proposal has been billed as an infrastructure plan, it also calls for investing billions in electric vehicles, water infrastructure, broadband internet, and programs that address exclusionary zoning and create new affordable housing.