BEECH GROVE, Ind. — Amtrak unveiled the first of 21 passenger railcars to be removed from storage, restored to good condition, and returned to service as part of a $19.3 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funded program at the Amtrak Beech Grove (Ind.) maintenance facility that will add seating capacity primarily to its trains operating on routes in the Midwest and West.
“Restoring and returning passenger railcars to service is another concrete example of how Amtrak is rebuilding and renewing the nation’s railroad,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman, noting that many other infrastructure improvement projects including for tracks, bridges, and stations are currently underway or will soon begin.
Amtrak is using $19.3 million in ARRA funds to restore 20 bi-level Superliner and one single-level Viewliner railcars, plus an additional $13 million to rehabilitate 15 P-40 diesel locomotives at the facility near Indianapolis. To perform all of this work, Amtrak has hired 108 employees, including some laid off from the automotive and aviation industries.
The car unveiled today, Superliner Sightseer Lounge #33016, was introduced into service in July 1981. It had traveled nearly 5.1 million miles before being damaged in the state of Washington in April 2005 and placed in storage. It will return to service next week.
As part of the restoration project, the damage was repaired and the car was modernized to bring it into compliance with all federal rail safety regulations as well as with current Amtrak standards in design, colors and amenities. It also underwent a complete overhaul of the interior, exterior, mechanical systems, electrical systems, trucks, wheel assemblies, airbrakes and restrooms. In addition, electrical outlets have been installed at every seat to charge or power DVD players, notebook computers, mobile phones, gaming systems and other electronic devices and booths for groups or families to sit together now occupy half of the upper seating level. It cost approximately $709,000 to complete the repair and overhaul work.
The car will be assigned to a pool of equipment in Chicago to support popular Amtrak trains, including the Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, California Zephyr and Texas Eagle to and from the West Coast and the Capitol Limited to and from the East Coast.
“We are coming off of a record year in ridership,” Boardman added. “Having the additional capacity will help position Amtrak for expected future growth in ridership on our own trains and on the trains we operate for our many state partners.”
Also featured at the event were some of the Indianapolis-area vendors who supply component parts to Amtrak for use at Beech Grove facility and elsewhere — companies preserving current jobs and adding new ones because of the ARRA-funded work:
BoMar Industries of Indianapolis employs 32 and looks forward to adding more workers in metal fabrication for Amtrak.
Wessels, Inc., of Greenwood has 75 workers, including two new employees, with more hiring anticipated with an order from Amtrak for water tanks.
Indierail of Indianapolis also added two employees for a total of 42 making plumbing components for the railcars, with additional jobs anticipated.
In July, Amtrak unveiled the first of 60 Amfleet passenger railcars to be returned to service after being rehabilitated at the Amtrak maintenance facility in Bear, Del., using $58.5 million in ARRA funds to restore railcars primarily assigned to train routes in the East. Amtrak hired 55 employees at the Delaware facility and has added more than 200 other jobs to work on numerous other ARRA-funded projects across its system.