US: $631 Million in Federal Funding to Buy New Railcars

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced 631 million USD in grants for transit agencies to buy new railcars.

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, this funding will help improve rail safety and reliability for passengers through the purchase of American-made railcars.

Alongside improving transit systems across the nation, this investment will also create well-paid jobs and boost economic competitiveness.

Metra's commuter rail service in the Chicago metropolitan area
Metra’s commuter rail service in the Chicago metropolitan area will receive 100 million USD

The grants have been awarded through the FTA’s Rail Vehicle Replacement Program to transit agencies in Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It will enable older vehicles currently in operation to be replaced with 300 new railcars.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said:

“Millions of Americans use subways, commuter rail, and light rail every day, but many railcars are decades old and in need of replacement. Through President Biden’s infrastructure law, we’re proud to deliver 300 new railcars to give Americans a safer, more comfortable, more reliable service on America’s rails.”

The selected Rail Vehicle Replacement Program projects are:

  • Chicago, IL – Metra will receive 100 million USD to buy 50 modern, multi-level railcars. These will be equipped with features to enhance passenger safety, accessibility and rider comfort, replacing vehicles that have been in service for more than 40 years.
  • Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) will receive approximately 214 million USD to buy 52 new light rail vehicles.
  • Philadelphia, PA – The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will receive approximately 317 million USD to buy up to 200 new railcars.

A third of subway and commuter rail vehicles operating in the US are currently more than 25 years old. This often contributes to delays, increased maintenance costs and customer dissatisfaction. In addition, these vehicles lack amenities such as digital signage and audio tools that improve the rider experience and access.

FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez said:

“Newer, better railcars will mean a safer, more reliable, more accessible transportation future for the people of these communities. These cars also represent hundreds of jobs in American factories, building the next generation of American transit. We are proud to select these projects to improve passenger rail service for riders across the nation.”

This announcement marks the second Rail Vehicle Replacement Program package funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law following a 703.1 million USD investment in May 2023. The programme has now invested around 1.3 billion USD in replacing rail vehicles nationwide.

All railcars purchased with federal funding must comply with the Buy America Act. At least 70 percent of the railcar must be made in the US and final assembly must be completed in the US.

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