U.S. Doling Out $336 Million to Help States Buy New Trains

California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri to receive funds to buy locomotives, with strict 'Buy America' requirements.

As part of President Obama's plan to build a nationwide intercity passenger-rail network, the Department of Transportation will distribute $336.2 million to help five states buy "next-generation" trains.

California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri will receive the funds, which will come with strict "Buy America" requirements, according to the Transportation Department.

Combined with previously awarded rail funds, the five states and Washington state have received $782 million for the purchase of "33 quick-acceleration locomotives and 120 bi-level passenger cars," according to the department.

"Today's announcement is all about jobs," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

Trains will be designed to travel more than 110 mph along intercity passenger corridors in the states receiving the funds, and will meet standards developed by the state-led Next Generation Equipment Committee, the department said.

Multi-State Procurement Process

California and Illinois reached cooperative agreements with the Federal Railroad Administration to launch a multi-state procurement of equipment for passenger-rail corridors in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon and Washington state.

"Through a joint procurement process, states will leverage these federal investments, along with state matching dollars, ensuring taxpayers receive the best possible deal while creating the necessary momentum to encourage manufacturers to build equipment in U.S. plants with American workers and suppliers," the Transportation Department said in a news release.

The process will provide manufacturers with consistent specifications for all passenger trains in the United States, the department said.

The next step is for the state partners to begin a joint procurement process, which will start with a request for information (RFI), expected later this summer.

In 2009, some 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers promised to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the United States if they are selected for high-speed rail contracts, according to the department.

The department noted that the Obama administration has invested $10.1 billion to lay the groundwork for a high-speed and intercity passenger-rail network in the United States, which aims to provide rail access to new communities and improve the reliability, speed and frequency of existing lines.

Of that, more than $6 billion has been obligated, with corridor projects under way in New England, Illinois, Washington state and North Carolina, and stations under construction in California and North Carolina, according to the Transportation Department.

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