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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Republican lawmakers question SEPTA rail-car contract's compliance with 'Buy America'


Republican members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) in a letter released yesterday called for an investigation into the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s contract with Chinese rail-car supplier China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. (CRRC).

U.S. Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Eric Crawford (R-Ark.) asked U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Eric Soskin to investigate whether the contract complies with Buy America standards

"It has come to our attention that the state-owned [CRRC] is fully building passenger rail cars in China and plans to ship them to SEPTA — apparently in contrast with [Federal Transit Administration's] Buy America requirements for rolling stock procurement," the letter stated.

Graves is ranking member of the T&I, Davis is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and Crawford is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

The FTA requires that projects it funds source American-made steel, iron and manufactured goods, including rolling stock. The requirement also applies to third-party procurements, according to the FTA website.

It is possible to waive the requirements under limited circumstances, such as if the requirements are inconsistent with the public interest; the steel, iron and goods produced in the United States are not produced in a sufficient and reasonably available amount; or the inclusion of domestic material increases the cost of the project by more than 25%, according to the FTA website. It’s unclear if the requirements have been waived for SEPTA.

The 2017 contract with CRRC is worth $138 million and calls for the delivery of 45 multilevel coach cars. CRRC has been awarded more than $2.6 billion in transit contracts in Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles since 2014, according to the letter.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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