(WETM – TV) – Feds approve permit allowing Amtrak to move Next Gen high-speed train & keep Amtrak growth in Hornell.
Following his push, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer released the following statement after the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) signed off on Amtrak’s permit application for a one-time movement of its just-constructed Next-Generation High-Speed train to its test track in Colorado:
“The FRA approving Amtrak’s request to move its Next Generation High-Speed Train to its Colorado test track is a critical step in getting these state-of-the-art trains on the tracks and in improving reliability, service, safety and capacity for all those who travel the critical Northeast Corridor,” said Senator Schumer. “I appreciate the FRA quickly heeding my request and fast-tracking this crucial permit to get the Next Generation High-Speed train inspected and have its safety ensured. These new trains, once fully-produced, will be a true win-win that will improve rail service and further establish Alstom as a premier transit.”
Schumer has strongly supported opportunities for growth at Alstom’s Hornell facility, which has, for more than 150 years, been manufacturing and servicing high-quality trains in Hornell. He visited Alstom in Hornell on several occasions, most recently in September 2015, to announce and celebrate with local leaders the Amtrak Board of Directors’ entrance into negotiations with Alstom to provide a replacement for Amtrak’s current Acela trains. In June 2015, Schumer visited Alstom in Hornell to urge the Department of Transportation (USDOT) to green light Amtrak’s efforts to buy brand new Next Generation High-Speed trains. The USDOT, through both waivers and approved financing—through its Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) program—plays a critical role in allowing Amtrak to undertake this important effort. Through the RRIF program, the USDOT authorizes and provides direct loans and loan guarantees to finance the development of railroad infrastructure, including rolling stock and equipment. Amtrak, with Schumer’s full support, secured such a loan in order to help pay for the Next Generation High-Speed trains.
Schumer said the need for better trains along the NEC is clearer now more than ever, as Acela service has set revenue and ridership records over the past several years. More than 52.5 million passengers have traveled on the fleet of 20 Acela trainsets in the 18 years since revenue service began on Dec. 11, 2000. During FY 2018, customers took more than 3.4 million Acela trips and generated nearly $606 million in ticket revenue. As passenger ridership is projected to continue increasing in the coming years and with Amtrak offering affordable fares, there is a significant need to increase the capacity size for Amtrak trains as soon as possible. Procuring new trains made by American manufacturers and suppliers would prove to be a win-win, as it would meet Amtrak’s increased passenger load while providing jobs for American workers. Therefore, as a result of ridership and ticket revenue on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) line increasing over the last decade, Amtrak turned to companies like Alstom’s Hornell facility to purchase trains that meet the high demand and quality conditions.
Alstom currently employs over 1,250 people in Upstate NY. Over the years, Alstom’s committed workforce has delivered steam, diesel-electric, electric, and high-speed rail technology, including more than 7,000 transit vehicles, to U.S. customers. Schumer said the company is widely recognized for its deep understanding of U.S. regulations and standards, delivering trains with the highest quality and reliability in the market.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to FRA appears below.
Dear Administrator Batory,
I write to request that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approve Amtrak’s permit application for one time movement authority from the production facility in Hornell, New York to the FRA’s test track in Pueblo, Colorado.
In 2015, Amtrak’s Board of Directors approved the necessary steps for a contract to procure Next Generation High-Speed trains, of which I was a big supporter. This trainset for Amtrak will improve reliability, service, safety, and capacity, and they will replace existing Acela trainsets in the coming years.
I am pleased to learn that the first of the improved, Next Generation High-Speed trainsets has been completed at the Alstom facility in Hornell, New York and is scheduled to be tested at the FRA’s test track facility in Pueblo, Colorado. I look forward to the day that the high-speed trains are put into service by Amtrak and hope that you will do what is necessary to make that a reality. I appreciate the support FRA has lent this important project thus far, and the timely approval of this permit will ensure the production schedule remains on track. I appreciate your efforts to ensure the swift approval of Amtrak’s permit application for one-time movement authority.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.