(CNSNews.com) - In case anyone hasn't heard the stories he loves to repeat, Joe "Amtrak" Biden reminisced about riding the rails on Monday, during a stop at a Baltimore train tunnel that will undergo a $4-billion replacement.
"Back in Delaware, I’m known for riding Amtrak, for being their senator all those years," Biden said:
"And most of you know that a senator — as a senator, I rode the train between Washington and Wilmington, and back and forth, every single day that the Senate was in. And they tell me it was about an average 200- — 117 days a year, about 265 miles a day. I put over a million miles on Amtrak — not a joke — including as Vice — including as Vice President.
"Amtrak wasn’t just a way to get home to family," Biden continued:
"The conductors, the engineers — they literally became my family. I used to have a — I used to have a summer party at my home in Delaware. Started off with about 10 conductors and — and — and engineers. Ended up with about 70 people. They might — became my friends. I went to an awful lot of their children’s weddings and, unfortunately, funerals of their — of them.
"When I was Vice President, I flew over a million miles on Air Force Two. And I was going home as the United States — as Vice President, and one of the conductors said to me, 'Hey, Joe, big deal. A million whatever — two hundred — you’ve--' he said, 'You’ve — you’ve traveled over a million miles on Amtrak.' I said, 'How the hell do you know that?'” And they added up at their —
"But, folks, look, I made a thousand trips through this tunnel, so I’ve been through this tunnel a thousand times. And, you know, but when folks talk about how badly the Baltimore Tunnel needs an upgrade, you don’t need me to tell you. I’ve been there, and you’ve been there, too."
(The Daily Mail reported that this is the eighth time Biden has repeated that debunked story about a conductor congratulating him for logging a million miles on Amtrak. "The conductor had been dead for more than a year – and retired for more than two decades – before the earliest moment Biden could have had this conversation as vice president," the newspaper said.)
Biden on Monday noted that the tunnel is a chokepoint for trains that serve the busy Northeast corridor.
"For years, people talked about fixing this tunnel. Well, I think I may be one of the few guys — back in the early ‘80s, I actually walked into the tunnel with some of the construction workers. You ought to get inside and see it. This is a 150-year-old tunnel, and you wonder how in the hell it’s still standing.
"And with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, they’ll be finally getting it done."
Biden announced that the new tunnel will be named after Frederick Douglass, "who boarded this train to freedom right here in Baltimore," he said:
"You know, and it’s especia- — and he escaped slavery, he traveled the country by rail, fighting for abolition and civil rights. So that it’s fitting we honor him in this way — the Frederick Dougl- —
"Look, we have a lot to do. When the project is done, new trains will travel through this — this tunnel at 110 miles an hour instead of 30 miles an hour. MARC trains will go from here to Washington in 30 minutes."
Biden said the tunnel "will be all electric, and we’ll continue to invest in rail to make it easier for people to use.
"It has potential to take thousands of vehicles — thousands of vehicles off the highways, including the interstate, and save millions of barrels of oil, reducing polletion [sic] — pollution.
"All the studies show, if you can get from point A to point B by rail faster than you can by automobile, you take the rail. This is going to be a game changer for the environment as well. And so, this is what we’re doing across the country, not just here.
"Tomorrow, I’ll be in New York for a similar announcement at the Hudson Tunnel Project, and a critical junction on the Northeast Corridor..."