Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri will receive $336.2 million under to buy trains for passenger rail corridors in routes shared with freight railroads.
The money is part of $2 billion in initial awards announced in May, but needed formal implementing accords to be negotiated before states could receive the funds. That $2 billion was redirected to other states from money Florida rejected when its governor killed a planned bullet train service between Tampa and Orlando.
Now, both California and Illinois have finalized agreements with the Federal Railroad Administration to buy train sets of locomotives and rail cars in lanes shared with freight service where passenger trains can run up to 110 mph.
The money going to Illinois will be shared with passenger services planned for Iowa, Michigan and Missouri. California’s Department of Transportation will use that state’s equipment funds for enhanced Amtrak service, separate from a high-speed train services planned there.
Counting previously awarded federal grants and state matching funds, those five plus Washington state have lined up $782 million to buy 33 quick-acceleration locomotives and 120 bi-level passenger cars.
This is part of the Obama administration’s push to expand intercity passenger rail, which includes funding track and signal improvements in freight-owned corridors. That allows faster speeds for passenger trains or introduction of new passenger service, and helps freight trains run more efficiently with extra tracks or sidings plus upgraded signals.
The administration also promotes the grants as part of a job-creating strategy for U.S. manufacturing, under a “buy America” provision for the equipment awards.
“Today’s announcement is all about jobs,” LaHood said. “These orders will pump more than three quarters of a billion dollars into the domestic manufacturing industry.”
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