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Amtrak and California request bids for high-speed trainsets

24 January 2014  •  Author: The California High-Speed Rail Authority

Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) today issued a request for proposals to build modern, state-of-the-art high-speed trainsets. The trainsets are essential to meeting Amtrak’s critical short-term need to expand the capacity of its current Northeast Corridor (NEC) high-speed service and meeting the long-term operational needs of both Amtrak and the Authority.

Amtrak is seeking up to 28 high-speed trainsets, each with between 400 and 450 seats, which can meet or exceed current Acela Express trip-times on the existing NEC infrastructure between Washington, New York and Boston. The Authority is seeking an initial order of 15 trainsets which will have a minimum of 450 seats that can meet its planned trip-time requirements for service from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles on what will be largely brand new infrastructure.

A goal of the procurement is to identify whether established high-speed rail equipment manufacturers have service-proven designs that can meet both the short-term needs of Amtrak and the long-term operational needs of the Authority and Amtrak with little or no modification. It is also hoped that the joint procurement of equipment with a large degree of commonality will result in lower unit acquisition and life cycle costs for both Amtrak and the Authority, while helping expand the U.S. role in high-speed rail equipment manufacturing.

“With packed trains and increasing demand, the need to expand the capacity of Amtrak’s high-speed service cannot be overstated,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “It is absolutely critical that we get more high-speed trains as soon as possible to provide more service and meet the growing mobility and economic needs of the Northeast region.”

The Authority requires operation at speeds of a minimum of 200 mph which is similar to what Amtrak expects it will need to realize its Vision for High-Speed Rail on the NEC. Initially, Amtrak intends to operate at peak speeds of 160 mph because that is the expected maximum allowable speed permitted by the NEC infrastructure at the time these trainsets are delivered.

“This is a major milestone for California’s high-speed rail project,” said California High- Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales. “Combining California’s and Amtrak’s orders will help make it worthwhile for manufacturers to locate in the United States, create jobs and deliver 21st Century, state-of-the art trainsets.” “Today’s announcement is one more step in our efforts to standardize domestic rail equipment and reinvigorate U.S. manufacturing,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “Combining orders between Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority will generate economies of scale and make it more attractive for high-speed rail manufacturers to build factories here in the USA, bringing new high-quality jobs and creating ripple effects throughout our domestic supply chain. The end result means the riding public will have lighter, faster, more energy efficient passenger rail service.” Only current manufacturers of high-speed rail equipment, which the partners define as manufacturers with equipment in commercial operation at speeds of at least 160 mph (257 kph) for at least two years, will be eligible to submit a bid. Proposals are due May 17 and it is expected that a builder will be selected by the end of 2014.

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