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Amtrak Railcars Delayed

April 14, 2016

New railcars, meant for Missouri, Illinois, Michigan and California have been delayed and could lose important federal funding if the project is not completed on time. In 2012 Caltrans and IDOT awarded a contract for up to 430 bi-level passenger railcars to be built by Nippon Sharyo in Rochelle, IL. The first railcars, similar to the California Surfliners pictured to the right, were supposed to begin replacing Amtrak's Midwestern fleet by late 2015.

Initial designs did not meet the federal standards for absorbing compression force generated in a crash. Now engineers have to redesign the car’s body and undergo testing again which will delay production for about another two years.  The cars were funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment Funds that must be spent by September 2017, making it likely that the states will lose federal funding.

The U.S. has very different safety standards for passenger trains compared to the rest of the world. American passenger rail operators cannot purchase the modern trains used in Europe and Asia, even if they have a proven track record for safety. This makes it difficult and expensive to modernize rolling stock in the U.S.

We are very concerned about this setback to Amtrak modernization and urge the federal and state departments of transportation to identify ways to get new trains operating in the Midwest as soon as possible.


Dylan Hayward
Program Manager

Last Week at MHSRA:

We attended an event held by the Metropolitan Planning Council that discussed the $43 billion investment Illinois needs to make in transportation infrastructure over the next decade just to bring the network to a state of good repair.

Articles We Enjoyed:

How Delays May Derail Stimulus Funding for Amtrak Railcars
"A Japanese company hired to build new passenger railcars for regional Amtrak service has fallen years behind schedule and likely won’t complete the order before federal funding expires."

How Federal Rules Make it Harder to Build Trains in America
“The manufacturer of 130 new Amtrak railcars is years behind schedule, and probably won’t complete the order before the federal funding for it expires. How did this happen?”

The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life
"In almost every way imaginable, the car, as it is deployed and used today, is insane."

Amtrak Crash Highlights Need for Improvements
"The Amtrak derailment last Sunday that killed two people and injured dozens is renewing calls to fix the nation’s rail infrastructure and make sure railroads operate safely."

High-Speed Rail Begins to Take Shape in Central Valley
"Now, in the spring of 2016, something concrete is actually taking shape in California’s Central Valley."

City, County Leaders Voice Support for Dallas-Houston Line
"Waco and McLennan County leaders reiterated their support Monday for a private high-speed rail system between Dallas and Houston"

Upcoming Events:

Japan High-Speed Rail Tour

Join us this September to discover how Japan’s high speed network relates to the future of high speed rail in the United States. We will ride the world’s first high speed line, Japans newest and fastest high speed trains and enjoy the sights in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Call the Society of International Railway Travelers at 800-478-4881 to reserve your spot.

Please click here to learn more about the trip

Train Day Events

St. Paul Union Depot Train Day

Enjoy a fun and educational experience as we highlight the history and future of passenger train travel, the historic and current role of freight railroads in our region, and changing transportation trends and needs. All will enjoy a wide variety of free transportation-inspired activities. The weekend will include train equipment, musical entertainment, special events and activities for all ages.

When: Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 1, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Where: St. Paul Union Depot
Cost: Entry is free but there are some ticketed events.

Toledo Train Day

Take the opportunity to tour the Amtrak Exhibit Train and hear from local, state and national leaders speaking about the importance of rail. The event also features rail travel info, model trains, rail art, informational exhibits, kid train ride, food, prizes and drawings for train trips. Make sure to visit our booth if you make it there!

When: Saturday, May 7,  9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: 415 Emerald Ave. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza (Amtrak Station Building)
Cost: The event is free!

Dylan Hayward
Program Manager
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625