WASHINGTON – Amtrak is implementing the first step in a long-term, comprehensive fleet renewal plan with the purchase of 130 new single-level rail cars to support its long-distance train services.
The five-year, $298.1 million contract is being awarded to CAF USA which is creating 575 jobs to perform manufacturing and final assembly work at its plant in Elmira, N.Y. The first car is scheduled to roll off the assembly line in October 2012.
“This major equipment purchase demonstrates our strong belief in the future of intercity passenger rail in America and Amtrak’s leading role in meeting this critical national transportation need,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman.
Boardman explained that the 130 single-level passenger rail cars are similar to the popular Viewliner model and includes 25 sleeping cars, 25 diners, 55 baggage cars and 25 baggage / dormitory cars for use primarily on long-distance trains.
They will replace and supplement the existing fleet, improve financial and on-time performance, and foster a more modern, positive image of Amtrak. In addition, Amtrak can begin to retire some of its oldest cars still in service that date back to the 1940s and 1950s.
Passengers will experience many improvements with the new equipment including: modern interiors with better layouts; better lighting and more efficient air conditioning and heating systems; additional outlets to power personal electronic devices; bicycle racks in the baggage cars; as well as improved accessibility for passengers with disabilities.
CAF USA along with its parent company, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles of Beasain, Spain, is an experienced rail car manufacturer to the U.S. and world markets. CAF USA will manufacture the stainless steel car shells and perform final assembly of the cars at its Elmira, N.Y., facility where it currently produces transit rail equipment for several U.S. transit systems.
“This is a very exciting and pivotal moment in the history of CAF USA. As we move to consolidate our presence in the US, we view this contract as merely the first in what we hope will be many opportunities we will have to partner with Amtrak. We look forward to combining our maximum effort and expertise with the leadership and vision that the current administration has shown where passenger rail is concerned in the U.S.,” said Virginia Verdeja, CAF USA vice president.
The first year of the five-year contract will be paid for with $29.8 million from Amtrak’s current revenues which are running above budget estimates due, in part, to ridership that is on a record-breaking pace. Amtrak will seek to fund subsequent years of the contract with other sources such as loans or direct Congressional appropriations.
Furthermore, this equipment purchase is just the first step in Amtrak’s multiyear Fleet Strategy Plan to replace its entire fleet of passenger rail cars and locomotives over the next 30 years and help support the growth of a domestic rail manufacturing industry. Amtrak is currently reviewing bids to replace many of the electric locomotives used along the Northeast Corridor and may make a contract award yet this summer.