Amtrak in Market for Dozens of High-Speed Trains

(The Baltimore Sun/MCT) -

Amtrak is in the market for more than two dozen high-speed train sets capable of transporting passengers between Washington and Boston faster than its Acela Express service.

The company issued a request Friday for proposals to supply it with 28 high-speed train sets, each with the capacity to carry between 400 and 450 passengers and the ability to match or exceed Acela speeds – to about 160 mph – on Amtrak’s existing Northeast Corridor infrastructure.

“With packed trains and increasing demand, the need to expand the capacity of Amtrak’s high-speed service cannot be overstated,” said Joseph Boardman, Amtrak’s president and CEO, in a statement. “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 issued its request for proposals along with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which wants 15 train sets with the capacity to carry at least 450 passengers and the ability to travel at least 200 mph, to operate between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Amtrak and the California authority combining their requests will “generate economies of scale and make it more attractive for high-speed rail manufacturers to build factories here in the USA, bringing new high-quality jobs and creating ripple effects throughout our domestic supply chain,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo in a statement.

In its announcement, Amtrak said the goal of its purchase is “to identify whether established high-speed rail equipment manufacturers have service-proven designs that can meet both the short-term needs of Amtrak and the long-term operational needs of the Authority and Amtrak with little or no modification.”

The company also hopes the “joint procurement” will result in “lower unit acquisition and life cycle costs for both Amtrak and the Authority, while helping expand the U.S. role in high-speed rail equipment manufacturing.”

Only existing high-speed-rail equipment manufacturers with equipment in operation for at least two years are eligible to submit a bid, Amtrak said. Bids are due May 17.

A winning bidder will be selected this year, Amtrak said.