U.S. announces 53-billion-dollar high-speed rail plan

13:42, February 09, 2011      

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U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden boards an Amtrak train at Union Station in Washington, February 8, 2011, before leaving to talk about the administration's plan to build 21st century infrastructure including roads, bridges and high-speed rails in the U.S., at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled an infrastructure investment plan, in which the government will dedicate 53 billion dollars over six years to build a national high-speed rail network.

The comprehensive plan aims to reach President Barack Obama's goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years, as outlined in his State of the Union address, Biden said during a visit to Philadelphia together with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

"As President Obama said in his State of the Union, there are key places where we cannot afford to sacrifice as a nation -- one of which is infrastructure," he said.

"As a long-time Amtrak rider and advocate, I understand the need to invest in a modern rail system that will help connect communities, reduce congestion and create quality, skilled manufacturing jobs that cannot be outsourced. This plan will help us to do that, while also increasing access to convenient high- speed rail for more Americans," the vice president added.

As the first step in this initiative, the White House budget for the coming fiscal year would invest 8 billion dollars in expanding Americans' access to high-speed passenger rail service, he announced.

The Obama administration has already devoted 10.5 billion dollars to build a national high-speed rail system -- including 8 billion dollars of Recovery Act funds and 2.5 billion dollars from the 2010 budget.

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