Monday, April 23, 2012

DOT seeking 100% “American” passenger cars

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a $551 million Request for Proposals (RFP) for 130 new “standardized” bilevel passenger railcars for use on Amtrak’s intercity routes in California, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, and potentially Iowa.

The RFP has a stringent Buy America provision that requires all components be “built by American workers, with American hands, and with American-produced steel, iron, and manufactured goods.” Selection of a carbuilder is to take place by this Fall. The cars are to be delivered starting in 2015.

DOTNew Car SeatingDOT says its 100% Buy America directive “comes from a groundbreaking multi-state effort to jointly purchase standardized rail equipment. The effort is led by the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act Section 305 Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee, comprised of representatives of interested states, the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, host freight railroad companies, passenger railroad equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and other passenger railroad operators. “

DOT says its new uniform standards “will drive down lifecycle costs and allow more manufacturers and suppliers to compete, fostering healthy competition while helping re-establish the U.S. domestic supply chain for passenger rail equipment and meet Buy America goals. The common design also makes it easier to train personnel, stock parts, and perform maintenance and repairs, which also reduces costs and increases equipment reliability. These state-of-the-art cars will be able to operate nationwide, providing a more comfortable travel experience, and are designed with improved crashworthiness and other safety features to ensure passenger safety. The cars will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The funding is being provided by the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program.

DOT is calling these cars “the first American-made, standardized passenger railcars. In preparation for orders such as this, [we have] partnered with the Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to connect large carbuilders and more than 34,000 domestic suppliers, and help them retool their production capabilities to meet demand. The MEP connects suppliers with viable business opportunities that may have otherwise gone to foreign suppliers. The federal government’s investment in passenger rail means more jobs for American workers and domestic companies.”

DOTNewCar-CafeThe Section 305 Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee has also completed specifications for high-performance diesel locomotives that can travel up to 125 miles-per-hour and for single-level passenger railcars.