September 2010

Supply Side Ready to Take on U.S. High-Speed Market

by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

France’s Alstom has an extensive portfolio of articulated Very High Speed platforms — TGV, TGV Duplex and AGV (shown) — and non-articulated High Speed platforms, the Pendolino.

In August, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) received 77 applications from 25 states for the most recent round of High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) grant funding to be awarded this fall.

The application requests, totaling more than $8.5 billion, are being considered for the more than $2.3 billion appropriated in FY 2010, which is in addition to the $8 billion appropriated earlier this year by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as a down payment for the HSIPR ­program.

A majority of those grant applications — 20 applications from 10 states totaling $7.8 billion — are for high-speed rail corridor development programs. The FRA also received 57 applications from 18 states totaling $700 million for smaller, individual projects within rail corridors that are ready to begin construction. To date, the FRA has awarded more than $583 million to states for HSIPR.

With the continuing funding serving as a jump-start for President Obama's vision of a national high-speed rail network, manufacturers with an enormous wealth of experience worldwide are gearing up for the eventual implementation of higher-speed rail vehicles, particularly on high-speed rail systems in California and Florida.

So, what do these manufacturers bring to the table? METRO reached out to several companies to discuss their products and services, as well as their international project experience.

These manufacturers' array of products and knowledge will greatly help the U.S. fulfill its high-speed rail vision but first, many agree that the continuing funding of HSIPR program will be essential.

Alstom Transport

Headquartered in France, Alstom Transport has been involved in high-speed trains and services in that country since 1981 and has worked with Switzerland since 1984; Spain since 1992; Belgium since 1993; Eurostar and KTX (Korea) since 1994; and Amsterdam and Germany since 1996.

In June, Alstom unveiled a new model of Very High Speed train at the international railway exhibition EXPO Ferroviaria in Turin, Italy. The new platform is in addition to its already extensive portfolio of articulated Very High Speed platforms — TGV, TGV Duplex and AGV — and non-articulated High Speed platforms — Pendolino.

The train, designed to reach a maximum speed of approximately 248 mph, relies on eight traction systems with eight motors in powered bogies, delivering a total power of 10 MW and is capable of a commercial speed of up to approximately 224 mph. It is targeted for the worldwide market.

Keith Stentiford, interim vice president, North America, explains that adapting its vehicles to fit the U.S. marketplace should not be an issue.

"For customers, not only is technology a choice, but also there is an operational choice as well as capacity, maintenance and speed. So, any adaptation to our standard products depends on the client and is based on performance," he says. "We have incremental high-speed vehicles already operating on Amtrak's lines; our product range is pretty big. We can build whatever train the customer wants."

Like most of the manufacturers METRO spoke with, Stentiford says that the second biggest question U.S. high-speed groups are asking is about the technology of the vehicles themselves. Likewise, the manufacturers are unsure of how exactly their technologies in use around the world will be utilized here in the U.S.

"There is also a lot up in the air; a lot of speculation that leaves the manufacturer with a little uncertainty about what the technology transfer from Europe into the U.S. market will be," he says.

 Aside from its wide array of rolling stock, Alstom also offers signaling, infrastructure, information systems, electrification and turnkey solutions.


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