For the majority of his political career, President Biden was a commuter, making the 90-minute Amtrak Metroliner trip between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Del., when the Senate was in session. There were even a few trips thrown in when he was vice president.
Many politicians have emphasized their workaday origins (the image of Abraham Lincoln as a rail-splitter was an early campaign ad.) Mr. Biden’s “Amtrak Joe” nickname was earned from an estimated 8,000 round trips on the line, often in a window seat, often reading the day’s newspaper by the morning light en route to the Capitol.
On Friday, Mr. Biden is traveling to Philadelphia, this time via presidential plane to mark the 50th anniversary of Amtrak, the commuter railroad that traces a roundabout route through his mid-Atlantic life, through loss, revival and relentless transit as a person and politician.
Mr. Biden will speak at Philadelphia’s William H. Gray III 30th Street Station at around 2:30 p.m., White House officials said. He will then head to Delaware for the weekend.
He has long spoken of his love of train travel.
“This is a birthday I certainly wouldn’t miss,” he wrote on Twitter early Friday, posting a picture of himself on the train from his middle-age years.
The trip is part of what the White House is calling the “Get America Back on Track Tour,” with Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hitting the road to sell the administration’s ambitious $2.3 trillion infrastructure package.
Mr. Biden will not be coming to the party empty-handed: The plan calls for an $80 billion funding increase for rail projects, including improvements to Amtrak’s high-traffic Washington-to-Boston corridor and expanded service to Las Vegas, Nashville, Atlanta and Houston.
And his journey mirrors that of Amtrak’s. Mr. Biden began riding in the earliest days of the patched-together federal railroad in the 1970s, when he traveled back home every night to care for his two young sons, Hunter and Beau, after his wife was killed in a car crash.
Mr. Biden’s “‘love affair with Amtrak’ extends beyond folksy nostalgia and personal tragedy,” wrote David Alff, who teaches in the English department at the State University of New York at Buffalo, in a recent essay on Mr. Biden’s love of rail travel.
“Amtrak epitomizes Biden’s ideological commitments to incremental governance, deal-making and compromise,” he added.
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