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article imageSiemens wins key rail upgrade, ARC project still on hold

By Michael Krebs     Oct 31, 2010 in Technology
Amtrak issues a key upgrade contract to Siemens - ushering in more modern locomotives - while the much-anticipated Access to the Region's Core project has been halted.
The modernization of America's rail infrastructure should likely be among the nation's most important priorities - however, the endeavor is as vast as its investment needs are deep. But the initial investment costs weighed against the costs of doing nothing and of maintaining the current system - the rails themselves, the switches and controls, the train hardware, the power sources, the computer systems, and the supporting infrastructure in the networks of bridges and tunnels - yield a broader picture.
The economic benefits of high-speed rail are highlighted in the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors study, and Amtrak put a toe in the water with an agreement to award Siemens, the industrial engineering conglomerate, a $466 million contract to provide 70 electric locomotives for Amtrak's busy east coast corridors.
The Amtrak contract will create new jobs in California, Georgia, and Ohio - and it will put in motion a modernization program for Amtrak's fleet of trains.
Meanwhile, the construction project to create a third train tunnel between New Jersey and New York - known as Access to the Region's Core, or ARC - has effectively been stopped, as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continues to grapple with the state's massive fiscal liabilities. Christie's decision to keep large-scale cost overruns away from New Jersey's already bloated financial books has led to an investigation by New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg.
The ARC project is the largest infrastructure investment in the United States, and Governor Christie has asked the federal government to pick up the projected cost overruns and has instead insisted on investing in the states roads and bridges that are also in need of attention.
"Until the Legislature stops being afraid of the teachers union, we're not going to get anything done," Christie told a crowd at a meeting in Moorestown, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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