The Railway Supply Institute (RSI), the leading advocate for the railway supply industry, welcomed U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's announcement of $2 billion in high-speed rail awards.
"We are especially pleased that a substantial amount of the grant — $336.2 million — will be used to invest in state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars," said Tom Simpson, RSI president. "This needed investment in next generation rail equipment will provide needed employment for U.S. workers and deliver safe and reliable vehicles for passenger travel in the U.S."
The department's Federal Railroad Administration selected 15 states and Amtrak to receive $2.02 billion for 22 high-speed intercity passenger rail projects as part of a nationwide network that will connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail in 25 years. The dedicated rail dollars will:
- Make an unprecedented investment in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), with $795 million to upgrade some of the most heavily-used sections of the corridor. The investments will increase speeds from 135 to 160 miles per hour on critical segments, improve on-time performance and add more seats for passengers.
- Provide $404.1 million to expand high-speed rail service in the Midwest. Newly constructed segments of 110-mph track between Detroit and Chicago will save passengers 30 minutes in travel time and create nearly 1,000 new jobs in the construction phase. Upgrades to the Chicago to St. Louis corridor will shave time off the trip, enhance safety and improve ridership.
- Boost U.S. manufacturing through a $336.2 million investment in state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest. "Next Generation" rail equipment will deliver safe, reliable and high-tech American-built vehicles for passenger travel.
- Continue laying the groundwork for the nation's first 220-mph high-speed rail system in California through a $300 million investment, extending the current 110 mile segment an additional 20 miles to advance completion of the Central Valley project, the backbone of the Los Angeles to San Francisco corridor.
Nearly 100 percent of the $2.02 billion announced will go directly to construction of rail projects, bringing expanded and improved high-speed intercity passenger rail service to cities in all parts of the country. Thirty-two states across the United States and the District of Columbia are currently laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors to link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and annual appropriations have, to date, provided $10.1 billion to put America on track towards providing rail access to new communities and improving the reliability, speed and frequency of existing lines. Of that, approximately $5.8 billion dollars has already been obligated for rail projects.
A strict "Buy America" requirement for high-speed rail projects ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. In 2009, Secretary LaHood secured a commitment from 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the United States if they are selected for high-speed-rail contracts.