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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Amtrak, California authority issue combined RFP for high-speed trains


Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) have issued a request for proposals to build high-speed trainsets for use on the Northeast Corridor and California's new high-speed rail system, officials from both organizations announced on Friday.

Amtrak is seeking up to 28 high-speed trainsets, each with 400 to 450 seats, which can meet or exceed current Acela Express trip-times on the existing Northeast Corridor (NEC) infrastructure between Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. The authority is seeking an initial order of 15 trainsets with a minimum of 450 seats that can meet its planned trip-time requirements for high-speed service from the San Francisco area to Los Angeles, Amtrak and CHSRA officials said in a press release.

"Combing orders between Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority will generate economies of scale and make it more attractive for high-speed rail manufacturers to build factories here and in the USA, bringing new high-quality jobs and creating ripple effects throughout our domestic supply chain," Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo said in a prepared statement.

The trainsets are essential to meeting Amtrak's short-term capacity expansion needs for its existing high-speed service on the NEC, as well as Amtrak's and the authorit's long-term operational needs.

Bids will be accepted only from current manufacturers of high-speed rail equipment, which the railroad and authority define as manufacturers with equipment in commercial operation at speeds of at least 160 mph for at least two years. Proposals are due May 17, with the expectation that a builder will be selected by 2014's end, Amtrak and CHSRA officials said.

"It is absolutely critical that we get more high-speed trains as soon as possible to provide more service and meet the growing mobility and economic needs of the Northeast region," Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said.

CHSRA requires operation at minimum speeds of 200 mph, which is similar to what Amtrak calls for under its vision for high-speed rail on the NEC.

"This is a major milestone for California’s high-speed rail project," said CHSRA CEO Jeff Morales.