WASHINGTON — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will receive a $100 million grant to purchase domestically manufactured rail passenger cars and locomotives for the Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin corridors.
Both the Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin lines experienced a surge in ridership over the last decade; the Pacific Surfliner service saw more than 65percent in ridership growth, and San Joaquin service experienced a 45 percent increase in ridership. This new equipment will accommodate the ridership growth with additional cars and locomotives available for improved service.
“With gas prices at record highs, President Obama is committed to making sure Americans can choose safe, efficient passenger rail options for reaching their destinations,” LaHood said. “Thanks to this investment in new, American-made cars and locomotives, Californians will continue to enjoy the congestion relief, economic growth, and affordable travel provided by these popular rail lines.”
This money will allow Caltrans to purchase 27 bi-level intercity rail passenger cars and two diesel-electric intercity locomotives that comply with uniform standards that create a level playing field allowing U.S.-based manufacturers to more effectively compete.
Fostering healthy economic competition will drive down costs for rail owners and operators and the traveling public. Maintenance and repair costs will be lower because of reduced parts acquisition costs. Training can also be streamlined with just one type of equipment, allowing faster turnaround for repairs.
“We are very pleased to fund this first order for rolling stock under the new Next Generation design standards,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “These standards benefit manufacturers and suppliers, the railroad industry and overall passenger safety, utilizing the best technology available.”
To date, approximately $5.7 billion dollars has been obligated throughout the country for rail projects funded by the Recovery Act and annual appropriations. President Obama’s vision is to connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail within the next 25 years. This strategic investment is putting America on track towards that goal, providing an integrated passenger rail network with trains operating at all speeds and connecting to additional transit options, serving as a core component of our nation’s future transportation network.
A “Buy America” requirement for high-speed intercity passenger rail projects also ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. And, in 2009, 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 U.S. if they are selected for high-speed-rail contracts.