Telling the audience that “This is about seizing the future,” Vice President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that the Obama administration will fund a U.S. program to build brand-new high-speed rail networks and improve existing ones over the next six years to a tune of $53 billion.
Mr. Biden made announced the plan along with the US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the well-used 30th Street station in Philadelphia. Emphasizing the necessity for the United States to keep up with other industrialized nations such as Japan and China who already have sophisticated and fast rail systems, Biden asked rhetorically, "If we do not (improve our rail system), you tell me how America is going to be able to lead the world in the 21st century?"
Eight billion dollars has already been allocated for the project in the Obama budget for fiscal year 2012 which is due to be made public next week. The rest of the money will be allocated over the next six years.
House Republicans were less than pleased with the announcement saying that the building of high-speed rail is the purview of private investment and should not be part of a government plan. Critics further hinted that the program might have trouble getting approval in the congress.