US invests $2.4 billion in high-speed rail projects

Siemens' ACS64 locomotive

In a bid to improve infrastructure and reduce emissions from transport, the US Government is investing $2.4 billion in high-speed rail projects across the country.

The awards to 54 high-speed rail projects in 23 states announced by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week are the first tranche in a promised $8 billion investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The successful candidates include California’s plan for a new high-speed rail line, which receives over $901 million, a high-speed rail link between Tampa, Orlando and Miami in Florida ($800 million), a new intercity rail service between Iowa City and Chicago ($230 million) and linking to Detroit ($161 million).

The investment will cover the construction of track and stations, as well as purchase of new trains.

The Department of Transport was overwhelmed with 132 applications from 32 states, totalling over $8.8 billion.

“Demand for high-speed rail dollars is intense and it demonstrates just how important this historic initiative,” says LaHood.

German manufacturer Siemens is already benefitting from the US resurgence of interest in rail, with a $466 million six-year contract from Amtrak to build and supply 70 energy efficient electric locomotives.

The ACS-64 electric locomotives will be built in Siemens’ California, Ohio and Georgia facilities and will be put into operation in 2013 on routes between Washington DC and Boston and from Philadelphia to Harrisburg in Pennsylvania.

The new locomotives will be much more energy efficient than the existing rolling stock they are replacing and feature regenerative braking systems to return electricity to the power grid.

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Related stories:
Eurostar invests £700 million in state-of-the art electric trains (8-Oct)
Putting on the brakes delivers energy savings for US rail transport (13-Sept)
Obama on track for energy-efficient transport (17-Apr 2009)

05 November 2010