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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

GE, Bombardier, Alstom welcome Obama's latest rail proposal


Officials at three major passenger-rail and HSR suppliers said they welcome the Obama Administration's proposal to invest $53 billion in a nationwide HSR network over the next six years.

Such an investment, which the Administration unveiled yesterday, would enable GE Transportation to create or sustain high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States as the company builds the "next generation" of higher-speed passenger locomotives and high-speed trains to serve U.S. riders, said Lorenzo Simonelli, president and chief executive officer of GE Transportation, in a prepared statement.

Obama's proposed rail investment would enable GE to sustain or create jobs at its locomotive manufacturing plant in Erie, Pa., and diesel-engine manufacturing plant in Grove City, Pa., to build higher-speed (110 mph to 125 mph) passenger locomotives, GE Transportation spokesman Stephan Koller said in an e-mail.

"In addition, we maintain a tight network of hundreds of supplier companies across the United States which stand to benefit from the investment in America’s rail infrastructure," he said.

As far as dedicated high-speed trains are concerned, GE continues to collaborate with China's Ministry of Railways to bring HSR technology to the United States, Koller added.

"The collaborative effort would allow GE as the first and only U.S. manufacturer to participate in HSR development opportunities in the U.S.," he said. "We are currently laying the foundation for a joint venture that would invest $50 million and create approximately 50 U.S. jobs by 2012 to advance HSR development in the U.S."

Key to creating a sustainable HSR business in the United States would be a "consistent and long-term investment to draw serious players and establish a viable domestic supply chain," said Robert Furniss, Bombardier Transportation’s U.S. vice president of business development and sales, rolling stock, locomotives and high-speed rail.  

Obama's $53 billion investment in rail infrastructure would promote economic development in the United States, he said.

"Increased focus on integrating intermodal options, including an intercity and high-speed rail network, in the U.S. is crucial to keep up with a competitive global economy," said Furniss.

Also applauding Obama's proposal were Alstom Transport North American Region officials.

"As a leader in providing high-speed trains around the world and a company with significant rail manufacturing operations in the U.S., we are confident that such infrastructure investments in high-speed rail and traditional rail networks will make a significant contribution in creating jobs, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on foreign oil," said Managing Director Guillaume Mehlman in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's official daily blog reported today that dozens of rail-related companies are "ready to build plants" if the $53 billion HSR plan moves forward.

"We have received commitments from more than 30 rail suppliers and manufacturers to create or expand their bases of operation in the U.S. should they be awarded contracts for portions of high-speed rail money," the blog said. "More importantly, they have agreed to build our rail networks with American workers using American-made materials, which will ensure we can deliver the maximum benefits to our economy."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/9/2011