Trump urged to put aside political differences with Governor Newsom to make U.S. HSR a reality

Posted: 21 February 2019 | | No comments yet

The Rail Passengers Association has stated that Trump’s latest move on high-speed rail breaks his campaign promises and Americans need Trump to fulfill his pledge to become an infrastructure president.


Conceptual rendering of high-speed train travelling through Sacramento. Credit:

The Rail Passengers Association has condemned the Trump Administration’s attempt to claw back federal grant money from the California high-speed rail project, stating this is a direct reversal of Trump’s promise during the presidential campaign to use his experience in the private sector to put Americans to work and therefore closing the infrastructure deficit between the U.S. and the rest of the developed world – specifically with regards to high-speed rail.

Jim Mathews, President of the Rail Passengers Association, said: “President Trump promised to restore ambition to U.S. infrastructure. You can’t achieve that goal by blowing up the most advanced rail project in the country – the only one currently under construction. It’s a betrayal of the voters, and it’s a betrayal of the more than 2,000 American workers who are right now, today, building this next-generation rail corridor.”

The California High Speed Rail Authority has until 5 March 2019 to dispute the points raised in the Trump Administration’s de-obligation letter. The Rail Passengers Association believes that the White House should have waited to hear the responses to the questions it raised before making a decision and that it is also unclear if the Trump Administration has the legal authority to de-obligate the approximately $2.5 billion in federal grants issued to the high-speed project.

Jim continued: “We look forward to hearing the Authority’s response to the letter issued by the Federal Railroad Administration, some of which need answering. But the Trump Administration should have approached this project with an eye towards helping it along and finding ways to improve project delivery. Instead, he appears to have jumped on a misstatement by California’s Governor Newsom to score partisan points. We urge President Trump to put aside his political differences with Governor Newsom, and become the strong federal partner required to make high-speed rail in America a reality.”

The Rail Passengers Association has highlighted the following statements made by President Trump on U.S. transportation infrastructure during his campaign for president:

  • “China and these other countries, they have super-speed trains. We have nothing. This country has nothing. We are like the third world. But we will get it going and we will do it properly and, as I say, make America great again.” (The Guardian; 13 October 2015)
  • “They have trains that go 300 miles per hour. We have trains that go chug, chug, chug.” (Speech from 4 March 2016)
  • “Our airports, bridges, water tunnels, power grids, rail systems – our nation’s entire infrastructure is crumbling – and we aren’t doing anything about it.” (Speech from 4 March 2016)
  • “These projects put people to work – not just the people doing the work but also the manufacturers, the suppliers, the designers, and, yes, even the lawyers. The Senate Budget Committee estimates that rebuilding America will create 13 million jobs.” (Speech from 4 March 2016)
  • “On the federal level, this is going to be an expensive investment, no question about that. But in the long-run it will more than pay for itself.” (Speech from 4 March 2016)
  • “We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports and the railways of tomorrow. This, in turn, will create millions of more jobs.” (Acceptance Speech from 21 July 2016)
  • “We will breathe new life into your very run-down highways, railways, and waterways. We’ll transform our roads and bridges from a source of endless frustration into a source of absolutely incredible pride.” (Speech from 28 March 2018).

The Rail Passengers Association (previously known as the National Association of Railroad Passengers) is the oldest and largest national organisation speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. Having worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S., the Association’s mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want and their work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.