Amtrak will build the first of 70 planned electric locomotives and 130 long-distance cars this year to update its fleet, Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said.
The U.S. national passenger railroad, based in Washington, plans to extend electronic ticketing to all trains this year and improve service in the Northeast Corridor, Boardman told reporters on a conference call today.
The equipment purchases, under two contracts worth $764 million, “show our commitment to long-distance service,” he said. The U.S. unit of Munich-based Siemens AG is building the locomotives and CAF USA, the U.S. unit of Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles SA of Beasain, Spain, has the rail-car contract.
Amtrak will do advanced design and engineering to increase the top speed on a 24-mile segment of track in New Jersey to 160 miles per hour from 135 mph, Boardman said.
The new locomotives will replace ones now operating in the Northeast U.S., starting in 2013. Trains in the Northeast Corridor and between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will be able to boost top speeds to 125 mph from 110 mph, Boardman said.
Amtrak is “not fearful” of calls by Representative John Mica, the Florida Republican who is chairman of the U.S. House transportation committee, for the private sector to take a lead role in developing bullet-train capability between Washington and Boston, Boardman said.
Hudson River Tunnel
Congress cut assistance to Amtrak to $1.42 billion this fiscal year from $1.48 billion in fiscal 2010. Amtrak will continue infrastructure improvements after the reduction, Boardman said. The railroad’s budget includes $15 million toward building a second tunnel under the Hudson River to increase the number of Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains serving New York’s Penn Station.
“Uncertainty about federal funding and budget cuts is not new to Amtrak,” Boardman said. “We will not lose sight of the Amtrak our customers expect us to be.”
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