Amtrak Would Greatly Expand New England Train Service With Biden Infrastructure Plan
President Biden’s $2-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan could bring expanded Amtrak train service to New Hampshire and Northern New England.
Amtrak, the publicly funded national rail operator, released a new map this week of expansions it could offer by 2035 under Biden’s proposal.
The map adds a line from Boston to Manchester and Concord. Amtrak would also upgrade rail service through western New Hampshire to Burlington, Vermont, and extend that line to Montreal. And they'd add a line between Rutland and Burlington.
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These rail hubs were part of a tri-state feasibility study, 20 years ago, that considered high speed rail service between Boston and Montreal via Concord and Burlington.
Advocates for a tourist train in New Hampshire's Lakes Region have also unsuccessfully pushed the idea of working off that system to connect Boston to the White Mountains.
Under Biden’s plan, Amtrak says it would also extend the Downeaster line, which connects Boston to Maine via the Seacoast, out to Rockport on Maine's Midcoast.
In southern New England, the map shows new service running east-west across Massachusetts, upgraded lines in Rhode Island and Connecticut, and new service on Long Island. (Scroll down to see the full map.)
Overall, Amtrak says Biden’s proposed investment would let them bring service to 160 new communities, with daily trips in 15 more states and 20 million more passengers served – on top of the 32 million people who rode Amtrak trains in 2019.
Amtrak’s fact sheet says “better rail service means cleaner air, less traffic, and happier people.” They say more trains will save people time spent in traffic, lower the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, address inequalities in transit access and boost local economies.
Transportation, and particularly passenger vehicles, are the top contributor of carbon emissions across New England. That decentralized source is harder to address than, for example, the energy sector – especially in rural areas where driving is harder to avoid.
Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire have backed away from a Northeast cap-and-trade plan for transportation emissions, which would increase gas prices to generate money for clean transportation projects and rebates. Connecticut advanced a plan to join this week.
New Hampshire has also been leery of commuter rail expansions in recent years, including opting to expand I-93 between Manchester and Salem rather than offer train service. The state has said that project does not preclude the potential future expansion of rail service.
See everywhere Amtrak has proposed new rail service below: