The Obama administration announced Monday an ambitious $2 billion plan to install high-speed rail service throughout several states, including New York and much of the northeast.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled the plan in Manhattan's Pennsylvania Station.
The administration says it plans to use funds rejected by Florida to invest in Amtrak and other rail projects in 15 states. About $295 million will help build new tracks at the Harold Interlocking in Sunnyside, Queens, to enable Amtrak trains to travel on separate tracks in and out of Manhattan.
Currently, Amtrak has to travel through Harold Interlocking on tracks shared with Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit.
Another $58 million will go to improvements in train service along the Empire Corridor upstate, including a new station in Rochester.
In all, of the $2 billion, $795 million will go towards fixing tracks and increasing train speeds along the northeast corridor between Boston to Washington, D.C. Another $404 million will go towards expanding rail service in the Midwest.
Trains, which currently have a top speed of 135 mph, will reach 160 mph in some parts.
The funds were originally meant for high-speed train service in Florida, but the state's newly elected Republican governor, Rick Scott, canceled those plans.
LaHood said the rail improvements will help boost the economy.
"High-speed rail will create thousands of quality, middle-class manufacturing construction jobs right away. We have already made $11 billion worth of investments, thanks to President [Barack] Obama and Vice President [Joe] Biden's vision. Eleven billion already invested, that's 11 billion times more than has ever been invested in high-speed rail in America," said the transportation secretary.
"These initiatives have tremendous potential and will be a significant factor in ushering our economy and transportation system into the 21st century. I thank Secretary LaHood and his team for their careful review of the projects," said Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement.
Amtrak hopes to have trains running faster by 2017 and add additional service by 2018.
Meanwhile, LaHood and Amtrak officials said they will consider proposals by Senator Charles Schumer to beef up rail security.
The senator wants more funding for track inspections and more security officers at Amtrak and commuter train stations, after evidence taken from Osama bin Laden's compound showed al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. railways on the 10th anniversary of September 11th.
Schumer is also calling for the creation of a national "do not ride" list, similar to the "no fly" list already used by airports.
"We're going to look at a lot of different things and we'll work with Congress on this, but I rode the train last night. It took three hours to get here. It was very safe," said LaHood.
There is no indication al-Qaida's plan to attack the rails made it to the planning stages.