Amtrak is getting $2.1 billion from the federal government, in order to expand and improve rail service across the US. The money will be used for Amtrak station and service upgrades, 69 new and improved intercity passenger rail lines, and most significantly, $2 billion for Amtrak partners in North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maine to improve infrastructure.
“Amtrak ridership is soaring and we’re advancing plans to further enhance and expand our services across the United States with our various partners, thanks to these grants,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner, in a statement about the improvements. “We’re eager to bring the benefit of Amtrak’s network and experience to support states and local communities as they work to bring intercity passenger rail to new communities across America.”
That’s all pretty impressive sounding. But what does that actually mean for the daily rider? Right now, not too much. We aren’t likely to see these changes in the next few weeks, but in the course of the next decade, we definitely will. The money is promised to improve just about everything when it comes to Amtrak service. Faster trips, more reliable service, and expanded reach across the country are all to be expected in the coming years as a result of the funding.
The four grant applications that Amtrak submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration were successful. Here’s a look at the four projects that will receive funding:
A new Texas High-Speed Rail Corridor connecting Dallas and Houston, with a stop in Brazos Valley.
An expansion of the Long Island Northeast Regional Corridor that would “extend three existing daily Northeast Regional round trips between Washington, DC and New York City east to Ronkonkoma, NY, with stops at Jamaica, Queens and Hicksville, New York.”
A daily Cardinal service, which connects New York City and Chicago, with stops in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. It currently operates only three times a week.
An increase to daily Sunset Limited service, up from three times per week. The route connects Los Angeles and New Orleans, with stops in Houston, San Antonio and El Paso, and Tucson.
The biggest projects to receive funding were the projects underway at Chicago Union Station. Chicago received two grants that amount to $93.6 million, and that money will be put toward improving the customer experience for Amtrak and Metra customers. Part of the improvements include making the Chicago platforms ADA compliant and improving the ventilation and air quality.
The latest round of funding Amtrak received follows the $10 billion the agency announced it received to improve the Northeast Corridor, which connects Boston to Washington DC, with stops throughout the northeast, last month.
Exact timelines for these repairs have yet to be shared, but it is likely that they will take several years to be completed.
Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Journalism from NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She’s worked in digital media for eight years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.
Mexican restaurant chain Mad Mex has dropped a new protein, and it’s one of the most popular street foods in Mexico.
Enter, Chicken Al Pastor. It’s traditionally made with pork and grilled on a spinning rotisserie with a pineapple sitting a top, but Mad Mex has put its own spin on it, serving chicken bathed in an Al Pastor marinade with a touch of juicy pineapple.
You can order the protein-packed filling in your favourite burrito, bowl, quesadilla, nachos, or in a taco.
As always, these things are here for a good time, not a long time. Pop into your local Mad Mex restaurant, order delivery or through the Mad Mex app today.