Boris Johnson and Joe Biden bond over trains at White House

The president’s fondness for train travel earned him the nickname Amtrak Joe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden set off on the right track in their Oval Office meeting as they broke the ice talking about public transport.

Mr Johnson travelled from New York to Washington DC using the intercity rail service Amtrak, a favourite of the US president – with the Prime Minister telling Mr Biden “they love you”.

The president’s fondness for train travel, using it to commute from Delaware to DC in his earlier political career, earned him the nickname Amtrak Joe.

And Mr Johnson told Mr Biden he was a “living deity” on the system.

Mr Biden told Mr Johnson: “I’ve travelled millions of miles. You think I’m joking”, to which Mr Johnson replied “They love you.”

The president then told Mr Johnson a story about how he insisted he travelled via Amtrak when he was vice president against the wishes of Secret Service “because there were too many options for people to cause trouble along the way”.

He said once there was a story in the paper about how many miles he had travelled on Air Force Two, adding it was around 1,350,000 miles.

“And so I’m walking up to getting the train on that Friday. And a guy, who was the number three guy from New Jersey in seniority as a conductor walked up and grabbed me and he goes like this: ‘Joey, baby!’, he said.

“I thought the secret service was going to shoot him. I said ‘No no, he’s a friend’.

“‘Do you know how many miles you travelled on Amtrak?'” And I said ‘No’.

“He said, ‘Well, at the retirement dinner, we worked it out.’ He said, ‘Thirty-six years in the Senate; X number of years – at that point – as Vice President, average 131 days a year, 257 miles a day. Joey, you travelled over 2 million miles. Big deal.'”

Mr Biden said: “I thought they should name the railroad after me or something.”

Mr Johnson replied saying they named the station in Wilmington, Delaware, after the president in 2011 when it become the Joseph R Biden Jr Railroad Station, adding: “I share your belief in transport infrastructure, particularly trains.”

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