WASHINGTON Amtrak and 15 states will share $2 billion in U.S. grant money aimed at developing high speed rail in the heavily travelled Northeast, California and the Midwest, the Obama administration said on Monday.
The money, which comes from rail funds rejected by Florida, will go to ongoing and new construction projects and to buy locomotives and rail cars.
"The investments we're making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
Amtrak, the nation's only long haul passenger rail service that already receives a federal subsidy, will receive $795 million for work on its Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston.
More than $400 million will go toward a Chicago-Detroit connection and $300 million is directed at advancing the San Francisco-Los Angeles line.
Developing high speed rail is President Barack Obama's top transportation priority. The administration has already spent $10 billion toward the effort in California, the Midwest and other areas.
Obama has proposed spending another $53 billion over six years, which has been received coolly by Republicans in Congress who are sceptical of rail's potential and determined to cut federal spending.
Florida was one of three states to reject high-speed rail funds on grounds the projects were too expensive in a tough economy. States also have to shoulder rail development costs.
Wisconsin and Ohio have also declined funds, and New Jersey separately rejected billions in government money for a new rail tunnel to New York City. (Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Vicki Allen)