WASHINGTON — As the 2010 construction season gets underway, Amtrak is embarking on $1 billion construction program to fund capital projects designed to rebuild, upgrade and modernize its tracks, bridges, stations and other critical infrastructure along the busy Northeast Corridor and across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and the Miami area.

“We are investing in our infrastructure to improve the reliability, safety and security of our operations and support the growing demand to travel by Amtrak,” said president and CEO Joseph Boardman, noting America’s passenger railroad posted record ridership numbers for the first six-months of this fiscal year.

Boardman explained Amtrak intends to spend $420 million from its FY 2010 annual capital program and $590 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund the infrastructure projects that will be underway this construction season.

Along the Northeast Corridor (Washington – New York – Boston), Amtrak is performing extensive work on a number of railroad bridges, including the start of a major, multiyear project to replace the movable Niantic River Bridge in East Lyme, Conn., which has been in operation since 1907. In addition, a multiyear project in New York along the Hell Gate Line (New York Penn Station – New Rochelle) to replace and modernize the overhead catenary wires and other electrical equipment — some of which date from 1914 — is scheduled to be completed.

Also in the Northeast, a major renovation of the historic Wilmington, Del., station is continuing, approximately 198,000 cross ties are being replaced, and the northbound platform at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport station is being extended to accommodate more than double the current number of passenger rail cars to improve boarding and alighting from the train, among many other projects.

Elsewhere across the country, Amtrak is making major upgrades to its train equipment inspection and maintenance facilities in Los Angeles, Seattle and Hialeah, Fla., near Miami.

At the Chicago and New Orleans terminals, the tracks will be returned to a state of good repair. Also in Chicago, electric heaters will be installed at track switches to ensure the reliability of winter operations. In Sanford, Fla., near Orlando, work is continuing on a multiyear project to significantly expand the southern terminus of Amtrak’s popular Auto Train service on which passengers can bring their personal vehicles along for the ride.

Currently, 94 percent of Amtrak passengers board at ADA-accessible stations and this year the railroad plans to make additional accessibility improvements at numerous locations across its 529-station network, including the installation of wheelchair lifts and upgrades to platforms and parking lots.

In addition, Amtrak is moving forward aggressively to upgrade and expand the use of its Positive Train Control collision prevention safety technology on tracks it owns along the Northeast Corridor and in Michigan and is enhancing security by implementing measures to harden stations, bridges and tunnels, among many other projects.

For more information about Amtrak, please visit www.amtrak.com.