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The rail project already has support in Congress among both Republicans and Democrats, said Mary Kerr, a spokeswoman for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

However, even passenger rail advocates cautioned against assumptions a new Northeast Corridor line is certain to be built.

Considering the multibillion-dollar price tag and engineering obstacles, “I’m not sure that makes it a doable thing,” said Ross Capon, president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, a passenger rail advocacy group. “I think we’re still a few years away before you would get to moving beyond proposals.”

Before the press conference in Washington with top local and federal transportation officials, another press conference was held in New York that included New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

“If the U.S. is to remain economically competitive with our economic competitors, we must develop high-speed transportation service for our great cities, just as they have for theirs,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

• Tom LoBianco contributed to this report.