Siemens to supply first high-speed rail trains for US

German technology conglomerate Siemens may build the railcars for the first high-speed rail line in the US between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Brightline, which is leading the project, has announced this.

A fleet of ten railcars is involved. Siemens will also build a plant in the US to manufacture the ‘American Pioneer 220’ (AP 220) trains. The deal includes a 30-year rolling stock maintenance contract that will be performed at Brightline West’s Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Sloan, NV.

Less than two hours

The 440-km high-speed line should be operational by 2028. Travelers will be able to travel between Las Vegas (in the state of Nevada) and Los Angeles in two hours, a trip that takes twice as long by car. The trains are expected to attract up to 11 million passengers a year. About 16 million people drive from Las Vegas toward Southern California on Interstate 15 every year.

It is a 12 billion dollar public-private project, for which the US government has awarded 3 billion dollars in grants. It is scheduled to be constructed by 2027, just in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

3 million car trips are eliminated annually

Brightline estimates that the rail connection would eliminate 3 million car trips annually. The trip would take just under three hours. According to Brightline, the seven-car trains will travel as fast as 290 km/hour and carry about 500 passengers as frequently as every 45 minutes.

The rail service will include a new flagship station in Las Vegas, near the Strip, and additional stations in Apple Valley, Hesperia, and Rancho Cucamonga, California. These stations will link with Los Angeles’s existing regional rail system.

Brightline is the only private passenger rail company operating high-speed service in the US. Earlier this year, it launched a high-speed Orlando to Miami service, the first of its kind.

Double the number of train passengers by 2040

US President Joe Biden has released 30 billion dollars to invest in expanding the US rail network to reduce traffic’s environmental impact and the car’s dominance. He thus aims to double the number of passengers on US trains by 2040.

The AP 220 transits are based on Siemens’ Velcro platform. This platform has already delivered several high-speed trains in Europe, including for Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn (ICE). France’s Alstom was also a candidate for the contract.

Alstom is already building the Avelia Liberty trains. These high-speed trains are to be deployed on the line between Boston and Washington, where the trains cannot exceed 240 km/hour, which technically prevents them from being considered high-speed lines.

A high-speed line in California has been under construction since 2015, notably connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco. The first section is due to open in the early 2030s.

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