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Production of Amtrak's new long-distance passenger rail cars is nearing completion, with field testing expected to begin this summer, Amtrak officials announced yesterday.The railroad's $298.1 million order for 130 single-level cars includes 25 sleepers, 25 diners, 25 baggage/dormitory and 55 baggage cars. CAF USA is building the cars at its Elmira, N.Y., plant, which hired more than 400 employees to manufacture and assemble the cars."Amtrak long-distance service connects America and so, too, does this equipment order in the form of jobs and economic opportunity in communities across the country," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman in a press release.All 130 cars are expected to be delivered by the end of 2015. They will replace and supplement the existing fleet and allow Amtrak to retire cars that were built in the 1940s and 1950s. The sleeper, diner and baggage/dorm cars likely will run on eastern routes, such as Lake Shore Limited, Cardinal Crescent and Silver Service, while the baggage cars will be used nationwide, Amtrak officials said.The railroad's long-distance trains feed riders onto the growing state-supported corridor services. They carry about 500,000 passengers to the Northeast Corridor each year. In fiscal-year 2013, all long distance routes combined posted the best year for ridership — 4.8 million passengers — in 20 years, according to Amtrak.
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