AOC, Gillibrand rally for high-speed rail in Biden infrastructure package

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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addresses the crowd at a rally for additional high-speed rail funding to be included in President Biden’s infrastructure package. Photo courtesy Twitter

On Wednesday morning outside Union Station, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Seth Moulton led a coalition of labor and climate leaders in calling for increasing federal funding for high-speed rail in the upcoming infrastructure package. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan includes $124 billion more for cars than rail and transit combined—despite the fact that high-speed rail creates more jobs per billion dollars invested than highway and transit projects. Just $80 billion is included in the package for all rail investments.
“Rail is climate infrastructure,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “For every buck that we’re going to put into a car and a bridge, we want to put a buck into a rail. We want equity. That’s what we’re here to demand. And we need your help, so go to and tell your Member or Senator to support high-speed rail.”
A high-speed rail network will create millions of good, green, union jobs and decarbonize the transportation sector by shifting millions of trips into an electrically powered mode of transport while reducing demand for cars, trucks and short-haul flights. It will also slash toxic air pollution in frontline communities, reduce the need for further highway expansions into those communities, create new affordable housing opportunities and revitalize small towns and rural areas across the country that have been left behind. China’s high-speed rail system reduced regional disparities by an average of 25%.
“I could not be prouder to fight for high-speed rail, for economic justice and environmental justice, and for creating jobs and ensuring clean air and clean water,” Gillibrand said. “We’re the strongest, greatest economy in the world when it comes to entrepreneurialism and when it comes to innovation, and we should never be ceding that leadership anywhere in the world. High-speed rail will enable us to share the culture, the richness, and the opportunities from every corner of our state. I promise you, kids in The Bronx also deserve to go to camp in the Adirondacks, and kids in the Adirondacks also deserve to get big jobs in New York City.”
The Cascadia project in the Pacific Northwest (Portland-Seattle-Vancouver) is also projected to add $355 billion in regional economic growth, for a 10:1 return-on-investment.

“A nation that has undertaken bold infrastructure projects in the past such as the Erie Canal, transcontinental railroad, and the interstate highway system can surely realize the vision of a national high-speed rail network,” said Andy Kunz, president and CEO of the US High-Speed Rail Association said. “If we prioritize it, high-speed rail will transform this country for the better. We stand here today united to bring high speed rail to America.”

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