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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

California high-speed rail agency withdraws proposal to use foreign contractors


The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) late last week dropped its proposal to allow foreign companies to build parts for the planned high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In September, CHSRA asked the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to waive Buy America requirements that restrict purchasing foreign products for public works projects.

After reviewing the issue with California Rep. John Garamendi (D-Fairfield), CHSRA decided to abandon its proposal, however. In a Nov. 17 letter to FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg, CHSRA Chief Executive Officer Jeff Morales said the authority will proceed with the trainset manufacturing solicitation process in full compliance with Buy America requirements.

"Our hope is that this approach will encourage the United States manufacturing industry to rise to the challenge of producing what is needed to build high-speed trains in America," said CHSRA spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley in an email.

The authority also agreed to allow the formal procurement process to determine what components are available or could be built in the United States, Alley said.

CHSRA plans to order 14 high-speed trainsets and two prototypes. The units must be able to travel 200 mph or greater to meet the planned trip-time requirements.

The agency anticipates issuing a request for proposals for a high-speed train manufacturer this year or next.

CHSRA's decision to abandon the waiver request drew praise from Transportation Trades Department AFL-CIO President Edward Wytkind.

"I am extremely pleased that the California High Speed Rail Authority has chosen to withdraw its Buy America waiver request for certain components of its high speed trainsets," Wytkind said in a statement. "With this announcement CHSRA has reinforced its commitment to maximizing American job creation and ensuring this historic infrastructure project provides the greatest possible economic impact in the U.S."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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