Friday, January 24, 2014

Amtrak, CHSRA issue trainset RFP

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Amtrak, CHSRA issue trainset RFP Cesar Vergara/Vergarastudio
Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) on Jan. 24, 2014 jointly issued an RFP (Request For Proposals) for high speed trainsets that will be “essential to meeting Amtrak’s critical short-term need to expand the capacity of its current Northeast Corridor high speed service and meeting the long-term operational needs of both Amtrak and the CHSRA.”

Amtrak is seeking up to 28 high speed trainsets, each with between 400 and 450 seats, that can meet or exceed current Acela Express trip-times on the existing NEC infrastructure between Washington, New York, and Boston. CHSRA is seeking an initial order of 15 trainsets with 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 is planned as mostly new infrastructure.

Only current manufacturers of high speed rail equipment, which Amtrak and CHSRA 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, 2014. A builder is expected to be selected by year-end 2014.

CHSRA requires operation at speeds of a minimum of 200 mph (324 kph), similar to what Amtrak expects it will need to realize its “Vision for High-Speed Rail” on the NEC. Amtrak said it initially intends to operate the new trainsets at peak speeds of 160 mph “because that is the expected maximum allowable speed permitted by the NEC infrastructure at the time these trainsets will be delivered.”

“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 CHSRA and Amtrak with little or no modification,” Amtrak said. “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 CHSRA, 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.”

“This is a major milestone for California’s high speed rail project,” said CHSRA 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 U.S., 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.”