State Transportation Departments Announce Notice of Intent to Award Bi-Level Railcar Contract

No word on where these new two level railcars will be used, but we'd love to see them pass through Washtenaw County!
A four state partnership this week announced it will turn to Sumitomo Corporation of America to design and build 130 bi-level passenger railcars.

The California Department of Transportation made the announcement on behalf of its partners: Illinois Department of Transportation, Michigan Department of Transportation, and Missouri Department of Transportation.

Best bidder Sumitomo submitted a bid of less than $352.3 million to build the railcars, which will operate along intercity rail corridors in California and throughout the Midwest.

"By pooling our resources, all four states involved in this partnership can purchase the equipment at lower costs because it will be acquired in high volume under one contract," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty in a statement. "These new railcars will help us meet the growing ridership demand on California trains, which is up 53 percent since 2002."

The bids still require reviews for Buy America compliance, as well as Federal Railroad Administration reviews. A final agreement could be completed in mid-November.

The railcars will be purchased through $808 million in new equipment rail grants from FRA. About $551 million of that was specifically set aside to purchase the bi-level railcars. The rest will fund future locomotive procurements and support project management and oversight. The first round of the new bi-level railcars are expected in 2015, with all delivered by early 2018. California is tapped to receive 42 of the 130 railcars, while the Midwest Coalition (a partnership of the three remaining states) will collectively receive 88.

The specifications for the car being procured were developed by the Next Generation Equipment Pool Committee, which is a state, FRA, Amtrak, and industry collaboration authorized by Congress to develop standardized specifications that would reduce costs, shorten procurement schedules, and create a level playing field for U.S. rail equipment manufacturers.

"We are proud to partner with Caltrans and the Midwest Coalition to cost-effectively procure the state-of-the-art passenger railcar equipment needed to address the increasing demand for efficient and convenient passenger rail service throughout the state," said IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider. "With Amtrak ridership at record levels in Illinois and the official purchasing process of the railcars under way, this massive project will continue to boost America's manufacturing and assembling industry and provide improved travel options for the entire Midwest."