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Amtrak will receive a $2.5 billon loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to cover the cost of a contract with Alstom for 28 new trains as well as other improvements to Amtrak's high-speed Acela service from Washington, D.C., to Boston.
The loan will be provided under the Federal Railroad Administration's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program. It is the largest single loan to be issued by the USDOT, the department said in a press release.Under the FAST Act, the RRIF and other federal finance programs are now housed in the new Build America Bureau.Vice President Joseph Biden, a longtime Amtrak supporter, announced the loan during an Aug. 26 media event at the Amtrak station named in his honor in Wilmington, Del. "This loan is a key step to providing investments needed to help keep high-speed trains moving throughout the region, and to help all commuters in the Northeast Corridor," Biden said in prepared remarks. "We need these kinds of investments to keep this region — and our whole country — moving, and to create new jobs."The new trains will have one-third more passenger seats to increase capacity on the Acela line.In addition to the new trains, the loan will cover significant station improvements at Washington Union Station, Moynihan Station in New York City, as well as track capacity and ride quality improvements in the corridor that will benefit Acela Express riders and other Amtrak commuter passengers, Amtrak officials said.Amtrak officials hope that the improvements will result in the new trains operating at speeds up to 160 mph from the current 135 mph. The trains will be capable of speeds up to 186 mph."Amtrak is taking the necessary actions to keep our customers, the Northeast region and the American economy moving forward," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman. "These trainsets and the modernization and improvement of infrastructure will provide our customers with the mobility and experience of the future.”The trains will be manufactured at Alstom's plants in Hornell and Rochester, N.Y., which will create 400 local jobs. In addition, parts for the new trains will come from 350 suppliers in more than 30 states, which is expected to generate an additional 1,000 jobs across the country.Amtrak and Alstom's contract covers the manufacture of the trains, as well as long-term technical support and supply and spare components and parts for maintenance, according to Alstom.Amtrak has ordered Alstom's "Avelia Liberty" train, the latest development of Alstom’s high-speed train range Avelia. The trainset configuration includes a compact power car and nine passenger cars, with the possibility of three more being added if demand grows. Each concentrated power car will be equipped with Alstom's Crash Energy Management (CEM) system."Avelia Liberty will not only provide premium passenger experience but will also provide greater energy efficiency and lower lifecycle costs," said Jerome Wallut, Alstom's senior vice president-North America in a press release.