WASHINGTON - THE US government on Thursday pumped in an additional US$2.4 billion (S$3.1 billion) to develop high-speed rail projects as it moves toward building the nation's first nationwide next-generation programme.
President Barack Obama's administration announced that 54 high-speed rail projects in 23 states will share in US$2.4 billion to continue developing the intercity passenger rail service.

The Department of Transportation received 132 applications from 32 states in the second round of awards, for a total of US$8.8 billion, more than three times the funding available.

'Demand for high-speed rail dollars is intense and it demonstrates just how important this historic initiative is,' Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

During the first round of awards a year ago, project proposals exceeded US$55 billion for the initial US$8 billion provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aimed at boosting recovery from the worst recession in decades.

'States understand that high-speed rail represents a unique opportunity to create jobs, revitalise our manufacturing base, spur economic development and provide people with an environmentally friendly transportation option,' Mr LaHood said.

Extra $3.1b for US' new rail