Action: Notice, Request for Comments
Web posting date: March 4, 2013
Close of Comment Period: March 19, 2013
FRA is issuing this notice to advise the public that it intends to grant the Illinois Department of Transportation (‘‘IDOT’’) a waiver from FRA’s Buy America requirement for the use of three component parts that are not produced in the United States for the Incremental Train Control System (‘‘ITCS’’). The three component parts included in IDOT’s waiver request are:(1) An ethernet cable; (2) an omni directional antenna; and (3) a router/server combination. FRA believes a waiver is appropriate because off-the-shelf domestically produced components meeting the specific technical and design needs of the ITCS are not available, and custom-designed components are not ‘‘reasonably available’’ given the short timeframe associated with Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation, the low dollar value of the two components as installed on just twenty (20) locomotives, and only one router/server combination needed for the entire project. The total cost of the non-domestically produced components is approximately $20,000, out of the $2.5 million cost for the ITCS.
Comments regarding this waiver request should be submitted on or before March 19, 2013 directly on the form provided below or in accordance with the directions provided on the Federal Register notice (linked above). Commenters should be aware that offensive language, Privacy Act protected, or other inappropriate material will not be posted. General questions about this web notice or FRA’s Buy America requirements may be directed to Ms. Linda Martin, Attorney Advisor, via e-mail at Linda.Martin@dot.gov or by telephone at 202-493-6062.
Summary: 49 U.S.C. § 24405(a)(1) authorizes the Secretary of Transportation (“Secretary”) to obligate grant funds only if the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States. However, § 24405(a)(2) also permits the Secretary (delegated to Federal Railroad Administration Administrator) to waive the Buy America requirements if the Secretary finds that: (A) applying paragraph (1) would be inconsistent with the public interest; (B) the steel, iron, and goods manufactured in the United States are not produced in sufficient and reasonably available amount or are not of a satisfactory quality; (C) rolling stock or power train equipment cannot be bought or delivered to the United States within a reasonable time; or (D) including domestic material will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.
The purpose of this notice is to inform the public that the Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) has received a Buy America waiver request from the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) to use three component parts, which were not produced in the United States in the Incremental Train Control System (“ITCS”) that will be operated on locomotives as part of the Illinois High-Speed Rail Improvement Program funded by an FRA High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (“HSIPR”) Grant. The three parts included in IDOT’s Buy America waiver request are: (1) an Ethernet cable; (2) an omni directional antenna; and (3) a router and server combination. The total dollar value of these non-domestically produced parts is approximately $20,000, out of approximately $2.5 million total cost of the ITCS.
A total of twenty Amtrak locomotives will be equipped with ITCS equipment pursuant to the HSIPR grant. To date, two locomotives have already been equipped using previously available equipment from Amtrak. The equipment on these two locomotives is currently being field tested in the corridor as part of the pre-revenue service testing. Eight additional locomotives are planned to be completed in October 2012, with the ten remaining locomotives completed by the end of 2012. The ITCS is manufactured at various locations in the United States, including Grain Valley and Warrensburg, Missouri; Melbourne, Florida; and Chicago, Illinois. IDOT has requested the Buy America waiver pursuant to § 24405(a)(2)(A) and (B); IDOT asserts in its request that: (1) the application of the Buy America requirements would be inconsistent with the public interest because it would result in a significant delay to the project; and (2) the required parts are not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount and are not of a satisfactory quality.
The FRA is considering granting a waiver for the three non-domestically produced parts that will be or have been installed on the first ten test locomotives. The FRA believes that the revenue demonstration testing of the ITCS equipment, which is a positive train control (“PTC”) system that the Rail Safety improvement Act of 2008 requires be installed on certain rail lines by December 31, 2015, is essential to continued progress toward implementing this important safety technology. The tests are scheduled to begin in October 2012, and any delay will result in additional costs and risk that the system may not be fully tested for implementation prior to the 2015 deadline. As noted in the Buy America waiver request, General Electric Transportation System’s most current estimate is that it would cost more than $1 million dollars and six months to one year to accomplish the redesign and testing of the parts. FRA is seeking information to determine whether domestic ally-produced parts are available and whether it is feasible for them to be installed in the short-term to avoid any time and money costs to redesign and retest the ITCS with three different parts. FRA is interested in learning whether such costs would be out of proportion to any benefit to the domestic economy and need to continue PTC implementation progress. The FRA is also considering granting a waiver for these non-domestically produced parts in the ITCS with respect to the remaining ten locomotives to be completed by the end of 2012 and also seeks comment on the availability of such parts and the feasibility of the inclusion in the ITCS. The entire waiver request can be viewed here.