Passenger Car Order at Risk of Losing Funds

A project to build 130 passenger cars for use on corridor trains in the Midwest and California is in danger of being sidetracked because it might lose its funding.

Trains magazine reported that the project is in danger of losing $551 in federal funds, which will be returned to the U.S. treasury if not spend by Sept. 30, 2017.

Nippon SharyoThe cars are to be built by Nippon Sharyo in Rochelle, Illinois, but little progress has been made since a prototype car failed a compression test last fall.

A car shell buckled under the compression of the required 800,000 pounds, for reasons that the manufacturer has not yet identified.

In the meantime, Nippon Sharyo has suspended work on the cars and laid off 98 workers.

The company has invested $50 million in the facility as part of a federal law’s “Buy America” provisions.

Bruce Roberts, chief of California’s Division of Rail in the Department of Public Transportation, the agency overseeing the procurement, said Congress could extend the funding, but that seems unlikely.

He said Nippon Sharyo is “actively working” on a redesign of the cars to address the test requirements, and together Caltran, the Illinois transportation department, and the Federal Railroad Administration are “working with (the manufacturer) to explore other funding options.”

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