Information published on 22 January 2013 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 329.

Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority are joining forces this coming week to begin the process of ordering up to 62 sets of high-speed trains for use in both the Northeast Corridor and in the Golden State

  • High-Speed
  • North America

The UIC welcomes information given last week on the fact that Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) are joining forces in the search for proven high-speed rail (HSR) train sets currently being manufactured and in commercial service that are capable of operating safely at speeds up to 220 mph on both Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) and on California’s developing HSR corridor. Amtrak, in conjunction with California, is today formally issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to start the process.
The partnership advances each of their respective HSR programs, and could create efficiencies by ordering trains of similar specifications and develop a U.S. standard for HSR train equipment that can be manufactured and supplied domestically and produced for the rest of the world. A Request for Proposal could be issued by September 2013 with an order placed during 2014.

“High-speed rail is right for America and Amtrak working with California to advance both our programs makes a lot of sense,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “For Amtrak, new high-speed train sets on the NEC means more seats, more frequent high-speed service and an ability to take advantage of higher speeds as the infrastructure is improved.” “This is about investing in 21st Century state-of-the art high-speed rail,” said California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales.

“We are pleased to join with Amtrak and look forward to continued collaboration in the future. This is a natural fit since Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and California will be the bookends for American high-speed rail.”

“We applaud both Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority for answering our call to explore joint procurement of the next generation of high-speed rail equipment,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “Combining orders will make it easier and 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. The end result means the riding public will have lighter, faster, more energy efficient passenger rail equipment.”

Due to the consistently strong and record setting NEC ridership over the past 10 years, Amtrak needs new and additional HSR equipment. The Amtrak plan envisions an initial acquisition of up to 12 new HSR train sets to supplement current Acela Express service and add seating capacity in the near term. Then, Amtrak would look to replace the 20 current Acela train sets in the early 2020s. California plans a first order of 27 HSR train sets.

Specifically, Amtrak is seeking a HSR train set able to operate at the current NEC maximum speed of 150 mph and can subsequently operate at up to 220 mph as the tracks and other infrastructure is improved to support the higher speeds. In addition, the preferred train set has Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) power distribution among all cars, operates bi-directionally with a cab car on each end that allows for passenger occupancy and has a seating capacity of 400 to 600 passengers.

CHSRA is seeking a HSR train set able to operate up to 220 mph and has Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) power distribution among all cars, operates bi-directionally with a cab on each end that allows for passenger occupancy that has a seating capacity of 450 to 500 passengers per 656 feet train set.

As a promoter of high speed – for all the benefits we know the system brings us – UIC is pleased that these actions are resulting in concrete decisions being made to embed high speed in the American landscape, with the support of the key players Amtrak and the CHSRA, and with the approval of the FRA (all UIC members).

UIC’s commitment to high speed can particularly be seen in:

  • The World Congress on High Speed Rail, held in Philadelphia for its 2012 edition. The congress brought together all the main high speed stakeholders (1000 representatives from 37 countries, 2,700 visitors, 190 speakers), and also gave rise to a day organised in Washington, giving a delegation of railway leaders from around the world the opportunity to meet American politicians and Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to discuss this topic
  • Workshops organised in every country with APTA (American Public Transport Association)
  • Regular exchange with its members FRA, AAR, AMTRAK, VIA Rail, CHSRA
  • Providing support to the CHSRA (California High Speed Rail Authority)
  • Its Board member status at the USHSR (US High Speed Rail Association)
  • Its Board member status at the MTI (Mineta Transport Institute)
  • The organisation of a number of conferences highlighting the technical, social and economical added value of high speed system.

Speech given by the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration Mr Jozef Szabo is available at this link:

Speech (VIDEO) given by the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration Mr Jozef Szabo is available below: