Siemens Selected for Brightline West HSR Trainsets (Updated)

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Siemens Brightline West Velaro high-speed trainset concept. Siemens photo.

Brightline has designated Siemens Mobility preferred bidder to supply 10 seven-car “American Pioneer 220” (AP 220) electric trainsets for the 218-mile, $12 billion Brightline West high-speed rail system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California, expected to open for service in 2028. Selection of Siemens is subject to the conclusion of definitive agreements. IAM-represented workers are expected to build the new trainsets.

The contract includes 30 years of rolling stock maintenance to be performed at Brightline West’s Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Sloan, Nev., where, crews will perform routine daily maintenance as well as long-term overhauls and repairs. “This will generate high-paying jobs performing train maintenance activities on a permanent basis,” Brightline noted.

Brightline West image.

The AP 220 is described as “an evolution of the proven Siemens Velaro HSR trainset platform currently operating in Europe.” Capable of speeds up to 220 mph on a dedicated right-of-way, the equipment “represents a new generation of innovative high-speed technology, featuring the latest in passenger experience, cutting-edge digital technology and a revolutionary propulsion system, built specifically for the U.S. market,” Brightline said. “The AP220 will introduce state-of-the-art technology through an American supply chain spurring the U.S. to establish a new industry rivaling countries that have had HSR for decades.”

Siemens Velaro HSR Trainset for Turkish State Railways. Siemens photo.

Brightline added that the AP 220s “will be the first true high-speed trainsets to be built in America. The propulsion system, lighter weight and aerodynamic shape makes it more efficient than other high-speed trains. The AP220 features an ultrawide carbody designed for unparalleled passenger comfort and designed to be the most accessible train on the market, exceeding ADA requirements and allowing for [passengers] in wheelchairs to move with ease from car to car. The trainsets will carry between 434-450 passengers, depending on final configuration, and can make the trip in less than two hours.”

Brightline West image.

Siemens plans to establish a new facility to build the AP220 and will announce the location of “America’s first true high-speed rail production center” when the contract is finalized.

“Today’s announcement came after a multi-year competitive procurement process conducted among multiple global competitors,” Brightline said. The company selected Siemens—which supplied all the diesel-electric higher-speed Venture series trainsets for Brightline’s Florida service—based on “specific criteria that included price, manufacturing schedule, train performance (e.g. speed and travel time), ADA compliance, passenger amenities and total passenger capacity. In addition, the criteria considered future interoperability with the California High-Speed Rail project. The trains will be built in accordance with all applicable Buy America requirements.”

“Just as we redefined train travel with our trainsets for Brightline Florida, we are excited to pioneer this new frontier of manufacturing and development for Brightline West,” said Brightline CEO Michael Reininger. “The momentum we are building will culminate in new jobs and a new supply chain that will establish the foundation for a high-speed rail industry from coast to coast.”

“We are excited to work with Brightline to transform rail in America,” said Siemens Mobility North America CEO Marc Buncher. “The high-speed chapter of America’s rail story will build on Siemens’ 40 years of designing, building, testing, delivering and maintaining trains in the United States. On behalf of our 4,500 U.S. rail employees, we are excited to be selected to build and maintain America’s first true high-speed trains, which will feature some of the world’s most innovative high-speed rail technology. When they enter service, it will be one of the most pivotal moments in the history of American rail.”

Brightline West image.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has entered into a Voluntary Recognition Agreement with Siemens Mobility to represent employees who will build the trainsets. “The agreement between the IAM and Siemens Mobility establishes a fair and non-adversarial process for future employees to obtain relevant information about the benefits of union representation,” the IAM said. “Once the majority of employees petition for IAM representation, Siemens Mobility will voluntarily recognize the IAM and commence bargaining immediately. Thanks to the historic investments by the Biden Administration and allies in Congress, the IAM looks forward to continuing to ensure that the growing U.S. high-speed rail network is built by union workers here at home.”

Brightline West broke ground on April 22, 2024. The 218-mile system, which will be constructed in the median of I-15, “is based on Brightline’s vision to connect city pairs that are too short to fly and too far to drive,” the company said. The system will have stops in Las Vegas, Nev., as well as Victor Valley, Hesperia and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The project was recently awarded $3 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. The remaining $9 billion “will be privately funded.”

Brightline West image.
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