Today--with a $352 million railcar manufacturing contract between the California Department of Transportation and the Nippon Sharyo plant in Rochelle, Illinois--we have further evidence that America's embrace of faster rail travel means American jobs. And I was happy to join Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in Rochelle to celebrate this milestone with Nippon Sharyo employees.
These cars will be built by American workers in America's heartland. California will buy 42 railcars, and the Midwest coalition will buy 88 railcars, which will operate out of Amtrak’s Chicago hub.
The men and women I met yesterday are excited about this, and not just because of the jobs being created. They're excited to be part of something historic, providing the equipment for the next generation of transportation.
Building that equipment right here in the U.S. is central to President Obama’s vision for American passenger rail. So DOT is proud to provide a grant from our High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program to support the purchase of these new rail cars.
In addition, standardization allows multiple states to bundle their purchase requests together, as the four states in the Midwest did with California for this contract. That helps save even more money.Our Buy America requirement ensures that rail projects—from trains and tracks to new stations—are built with American hands and with American-made parts and supplies. And right now, railway suppliers have locations in 49 states and D.C.—creating good-paying jobs across the country.
Federal investments in rail--like the one supporting these new railcars--are a major boost to American manufacturing. Whether we're building railcars in Illinois or laying track in California, we are creating jobs today while building long-term economic growth.
By 2050, our transportation network will have to move 100 million more people and 4 billion more tons of freight every year.
Americans want more good transportation alternatives, and rail provides a terrific option for fast, convenient, downtown-to-downtown travel. In the Midwest, passenger rail connects Chicago with Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. In Illinois, ridership along the four main Amtrak routes is up 85%. Along the Chicago-St. Louis route, ridership increased 212% over the last five years.
Demand is growing in California, too. Today, 5.4 million passengers travel on California rail. By 2018, ridership is expected to increase to 7.5 million passengers.
We need a modern rail network to support that growth.
That's why rail is a critical part of President Obama’s commitment to revitalize American manufacturing, to create jobs, and to build a safer, faster, and more efficient national transportation system. The President’s plan calls for increasing the speed and frequency of rail service, improving reliability, and providing growing populations alternatives to rush-hour gridlock and overburdened airports.
But we can't afford to stop now. We must continue supporting passenger rail projects that lead to higher speeds and lower travel times. So, we will work with Congress to help our legislators see the value of continued rail investments. But we also need those who appreciate the benefits of rail--who like these investments and the jobs they create--to be part of the President’s vision and support the next generation of transportation for the next generation of Americans.