Amtrak / California High Speed Rail Authority High Speed Rail Prototype Trainset Waiver Request
Skip to content

Amtrak / California High Speed Rail Authority High Speed Rail Prototype Trainsets Waiver Request

Action: Notice, Request for Comments

Web posting date: March 14, 2014

Close of Comment Period: March 29, 2014

SUMMARY:

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak") and the California High Speed Rail Authority (the "Authority") have each requested waivers from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the Buy America requirements contained in 49 U.S.C. 24405(a). Though separate waiver requests, for efficiency purposes because of the requests’ similarity, FRA will process the requests together. The requests pertains to four prototype high speed rail ("HSR") trainsets (two for Amtrak and two for the Authority). Amtrak and the Authority have requested the waivers pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 24405(a)(2)(A) or (C) because they assert that for the reasons set forth in their letters (1) applying FRA’s Buy America requirement to the purchase of the manufactured goods – four high-quality, service-proven prototype HSR trainsets – would be inconsistent with the public interest and (2) the manufactured goods cannot be bought and delivered in the United States within a reasonable time. The waiver requests are for final assembly only. All components must be domestically manufactured unless FRA has granted waivers for the particular component(s). Before deciding whether to grant these waivers, FRA is requesting public comments.  Amtrak's detailed justification for its waiver request is available here.  The Authority's detailed justification for its waiver request is available here.  

DATES:

Comments regarding this waiver request should be submitted directly on the form provided below. Commenters should be aware that offensive language, Privacy Act protected, or other inappropriate material will not be posted. FRA will consider all comments to this waiver request received in the initial 15-day comment period. Comments received after the initial 15-day comment period will be considered to the extent practical. 

General questions about this web notice or FRA’s Buy America requirements may be directed to Mr. John Johnson, Attorney Advisor, via e-mail at John.Johnson@dot.gov or by telephone at 202-493-0078

 

Comments

James Kunkel 3/14/2014 4:58:08 PM
In the few few paragraphs, the statement is made the one of the key objectives is to establish a "Standard" for HSR.

Suggest that we do not establish a standard that is not Buy America compliant.

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver.
M. Kennedy 3/14/2014 5:18:32 PM
"Buy America" requirements should not be waived. Per the "Summary" above, parts and components are available domestically if the manufacturer can deliver in a more reasonable time frame. Work with the manufacturer towards a solution. Invest in America. No waiver!

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation. Amtrak and the Authority have requested a waiver for final assembly only. The waiver requests are available at http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04955 and http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04954.
Jeffre G Barnes 3/14/2014 5:44:33 PM
If the same product at the same cost can be delivered within the scope of the project, waiver should be granted.

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver. The waiver requests are available at http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04955 and http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04954.
Shawn Chagolla 3/14/2014 5:51:30 PM
All things made in America should be built in America. It has been known for decades that you wanted to build this train. The manufacturing facilities in America should be used to put it all together. No matter how long it takes!!

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver.
wayne epps 3/14/2014 5:56:19 PM
we should all buy america

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.
Raymond J. Mc Manus 3/14/2014 7:10:14 PM
I strongly disagree with the wording of the items not being available within a reasonable amount of time. There is no way to weigh that type of remark. Further, all efforts must be made to 'buy America'.
Cheaper is not always better; is everything being manufactured to US specifications?

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver.
Ed Kennedy 3/15/2014 8:18:11 AM
Buy America is an outdated policy that should be updated to reflect our global economy. Enforcing this law only raises prices for the American taxpayer. We import just about all our disposal goods yet we are subject to Buy America requirements for federally funded projects. As long as a product meets specifications it should be supplied at the lowest possible price in the most reasonable time period.

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment.
Donald A. McKenzie 3/15/2014 1:28:06 PM
There is no excuse to get out of buying American!
The law is the law! American tax dollars needs to be spent on American made materials, etc. Take the time to make this happen!
In the future... Perhaps you all should plan way ahead of projects to make sure you comply with the American peoples’ demand of made in America!

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver.
Kevin P. Mooney 3/16/2014 2:18:04 PM
Being that the resources are not within the U.S. today to comply with proper manufacturing and oversight and that the purchase of new equipment may entice foreign corporations to develop facilities within the U.S. to address this need. A waiver should be considered conditionally; (1) this will be a one time opportunity for foreign manufacturing. (2) Amtrak and the Authority with other U.S. railway companies shall develop a strategy to bring the needed technology to the U.S.; (3) the successful bidder shall employ U.S. citizens in a training capacity to learn the craft necessary to adopt in the U.S.; and (4) the U.S.D.O.T. with theFederal Railroad Administration shall develop a report to Congress that researches the need for HSR manufacturing facilities I the U.S.

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver. In addition, should a waiver be granted it will be time-limited and specific to the project. The waiver requests are available at http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04955 and http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04954.
Stephen Mark 3/17/2014 10:13:58 AM
Dear madam or sirs,

Based on the current economic climates around the world, I do not believe it would be in the best interest of the United States of America to outsource the manufacturing of the rail cars for the HSR network as this sector has been slow to pick up the pace required to keep up with growth. The way to prevent safety hazards now and into the future is prior proper planning and scheduling. If things are left to the last minute to select suppliers, you will have a greater risk in running into roadblocks. The quality of products manufactured and produced here in the US is far Superior compared to what is considered acceptable by other countries standards.

In order to keep the US Rail Market moving ahead versus falling behind, these are the types of projects needed to show that the US is the future leader in HSR from the point of inception through to delivery on the rail. (Engineering through development and production and final testing.) If we as a country are unable to stand behind our workmanship and provide a high quality and reliable product using the technology already available to us, it would reveal that the US has officially fallen behind the times and requires new skills training across the board. There are plenty of international car builders already in the US market capable of producing said rail cars. The technology that these companies have already developed and the dollars invested in the US market should prove to be vital. Note that other countries that have developed similar rail systems are not without faults.

(1) Applying the requirement would be inconsistent with the public interest;

Comment: In rebuttal, applying the requirement would provide continued job and knowledge growth within this niche industry. Offshoring it will only cost more US & US Based Jobs over the long term. Public interest should be interested in seeing US Tax Dollars being spent in the US for US jobs, US Materials as applicable as well as US based manufacturing jobs.

(2) The required component(s) are not produced in the U.S. in a sufficient and reasonably
available amount or are not of a satisfactory quality;

In rebuttal: Who is to say that the quality is not of a satisfactory quality here in the US? This can only be from a non-US party.

(3) Rolling stock or power train equipment cannot be bought and delivered in the U.S. within a reasonable time; and/or

In Rebuttal: the Rolling Stock and Power Train Equipment would be available for deliveries if given adequate notice of intent to proceed with a project to manufacture in the US.

(4) Including the domestic component(s) will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.

In rebuttal: In the short term, the dollar cost picture may look to be advantageous, however, our tax base funding should be reinvested within the US markets to enhance the saved or created jobs plan. Using the collected US tax revenues for any projects outside US Territories does not promote the growth of the country. Partnering with qualified and knowledgeable firms is encouraged.

Best Regards,

Stephen Mark

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver. In addition, should a waiver be granted it will be time-limited and specific to the project. The waiver requests are available at http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04955 and http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04954.
Carmen Gendusa 3/17/2014 11:31:59 AM
1. Enhancing the US economy requires buy America.
2. Trainsets require maintenance. Non-US made parts may be difficult to obtain when needed and may cost more than US parts. Non-US trainsets may require special considerations and designs of the system, including stations.
3. Purchasing no-US made items will help support other nations - not a good thing!
4. The current trend in manufaturing is reversing the our previous ways - manufaturing in foreigh nations because "their labor is much cheeper". Many big name manufacturers are coming home, Even foreign manufactures are developing facilities here in the US because they have determined it is cheaper to build here in the US. Look at the automakers!
5. American pride - for "Made in America"
Made in America better allows for tighter insurance of meeting design specifications and verification during construction of the train sets, which I would presume could result in overall cost savings.

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver. In addition, should a waiver be granted it will be time-limited and specific to the project.
Everett E. Butcher, Jr. 3/18/2014 3:20:44 PM
I would approve the waiver for the prototypes only, not production.

Thanks!

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. Amtrak and the Authority have requested a waiver for final assembly of the prototypes only. Should a waiver be granted it will be time-limited and specific to the project.
Madeline Janis, Esq 3/21/2014 1:52:35 PM
I represent a national coalition of over 40 organizations – Called the Jobs to Move America Coalition-trying to encourage the rebuilding of domestic manufacturing of rolling stock. While it is understandable that the high-speed rail vendors would want to develop the prototypes in their home countries – which seems appropriate – any company that proposes to produce the prototypes in the United States should get extra points under the buy America scoring methodology in the RFP. In other words the waiver should be granted, companies should be able to produce the prototypes in their home countries, but any bidder that proposes to produce the prototypes in the United States should win extra points in the RFP process. This will encourage the companies that have made the extra effort to create more domestic manufacturing to propose the production of the prototypes in the US, while not penalizing those companies who do not have the capacity yet to produce the prototypes domestically.

FRA RESPONSE: Thank you for your comment. We agree with the commenter. American jobs are a priority for FRA and the US Department of Transportation.

FRA will consider all options available to Amtrak and the Authority for use in this project before deciding whether to grant a waiver. In addition, should a waiver be granted it will be time-limited and specific to the project.

 

Submit a comment (All fields are required)

Commenters should be aware that offensive language, Privacy Act protected, or other inappropriate material will not be posted.

Name:
Email:
Comment:

  • Contact us
  • Federal Railroad Administration
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC 20590
  • Regional Offices