Alstom, Merrill celebrate assembly of first Avelia bodyshell

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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Alstom photo

The first replacement trainset for Amtrak’s high-speed service is just a shell of itself – and that’s good news.

Alstom and Merrill Technologies Group this week celebrated the completion of the first power car bodyshell for the future Avelia Liberty trainsets, destined to serve as the new Acela Express fleet on the Northeast Corridor.

The bodyshells were made from 100% U.S.-produced steel at Merrill’s Alma, Mich., facility. Approximately 175 employees are manufacturing the 56 bodyshells for Alstom. The first bodyshell is scheduled to arrive at Alstom’s Hornell, N.Y., center for completion in the coming weeks.

“We proudly celebrate this project milestone, not only with respect to supplying Amtrak with new trainsets, but also the emergence of a high-speed rail manufacturing industry here in the U.S.,” said Jérôme Wallut, Senior Vice-President of Alstom in North America. “We look forward to receiving all of the bodyshells and congratulate Merrill and their highly-specialized staff on the completion of this first unit for the new Avelia Liberty trainsets that will carry passengers on the Northeast Corridor.”

“Merrill is honored to partner with Alstom in their pursuit to grow high-speed rail manufacturing in the U.S.,” said Robert Yackel, Merrill Chief Executive. “Completing the fabrication and painting of the inaugural bodyshell symbolizes the unlimited potential we can reach when companies and countries work together.”

Amtrak Vice President of the Northeast Corridor Service Line (and Railway Age 2017 Women in Rail honoree) Caroline Decker noted that the new Acela trainsets “rely upon U.S. manufacturing up and down the supply chain, from across America. We thank Alstom for their commitment to supplier diversity and Merrill Industries for delivering a product that will power the new trainsets, thus playing a critical role in the future of Amtrak’s service on the Northeast Corridor.”

The $2 billion contract signed in 2016 covers 28 Avelia Liberty trainsets as well as long-term technical support and spare parts. The tilting, articulated trainsets based on Alstom’s TGV will be 95% Made in America and will create 1,000 direct and 300 indirect jobs.

The Avelia Liberty, with a top speed of 186 mph, will accommodate 30% more passengers than the current Acela trains configured with two compact power cars and nine, and as many as 12, passenger cars.

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