PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Rail service across New England would be faster, include more stops and attract twice as many riders by 2030 under an improvement plan that regional governors have backed while seeking federal stimulus funding for the project.

Their plan integrates transportation projects across the region so the states can compete for some $8 billion in the federal stimulus funding that was set aside by President Barack Obama and Congress for high-speed and intercity rail projects.

The states submitted pre-applications on Friday to request federal grants for the project, Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri said in a written statement.

The plan would cut travel time on the Amtrak Downeaster line linking Boston and Portland, Maine, by about 20 to 25 minutes and extend the route to Brunswick, Maine. Transportation officials hope the project will reduce congestion on Interstate 295 and Route 1.

Another major project includes shifting the tracks for the Vermonter service to the west, serving more people on a line running between Springfield, Mass., White River Junction, Vt., and Montreal. A new line would also be constructed linking Boston with Concord and Manchester in New Hampshire.

Connecticut wants to replace track and fix bridges on the rail line linking New Haven and Hartford with Springfield, Mass. Rhode Island hopes to bring rail service to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, providing a link with Providence, R.I., and Boston.

Expanded rail service in western Vermont would connect Burlington, Rutland and Bennington with Albany, N.Y., and New York City.

State officials plan to meet in August to further discuss the project.

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