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New Specs for Locomotives Will Mean Lower Costs for Passenger Rail

New Specs for Locomotives Will Mean Lower Costs for Passenger Rail

Washington, D.C. -- New specifications for diesel-electric locomotives were approved today by the Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee, the next step in a national effort to make it easier, faster, and cheaper to build and purchase rail cars and other equipment for America's emerging high-speed and intercity passenger rail program. Any state using federal funds for its passenger rail program must use equipment that meets these specifications.

"Rail cars and locomotives that can be used by all the states will reduce costs while increasing the efficiency of procurement and manufacturing," said Bill Bronte, chairman of the Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee's Executive Board and rail director for the California Department of Transportation. "Standard specs will also enable states to pool their equipment purchases and therefore generate more demand for manufacturers. This is fundamental to building and sustaining our own American-based manufacturing capability for passenger rail, and will generate investment and create jobs here in the U.S."

The committee is a collaboration of states, FRA, Amtrak, rail equipment manufacturers and suppliers and was created by Congress to develop specifications and procurement strategies for America's next generation of passenger rail cars and equipment. During today's meeting, held in Washington D.C., the committee approved the specifications for diesel-electric locomotives.

In February 2011, the group approved single-level, stand-alone corridor passenger cars; in August 2010, the Board approved specifications for bi-level coach, dining, baggage, and business class rail cars. Members of the Executive Board include 11 state departments of transportation, the FRA, and Amtrak.

"Taken together, these actions will advance the ability for domestic manufacturers to gear up and really get to work on American-made train sets," Bronte said.

Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner said recently America's intercity passenger railroad also plans to use the standard specs, as applicable, to purchase new cars or locomotives for Amtrak's national system, adding that Amtrak's involvement would help "create as big a buy as you can to get economies of scale."

The specs are developed through a rigorous multi-stage process. The specification is developed initially by a Technical Subcommittee, which includes widespread participation by industry as well as Amtrak, the FRA, and the states. Following reviews for technical adequacy and other factors, the Executive Board considers the proposals for final action.

The Next Generation Corridor Equipment Pool Committee was created under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA). The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) acts as the secretariat for the Board as well as providing a broad range of support services for the Committee as a whole.

Specifications and additional information on the Committee (also referred to as the Section 305 Committee from the PRIIA legislation) is at http://www.highspeed-rail.org/Pages/Section305Committee.aspx.

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