Jerry Brown Signs Law to Encourage HSR Cars to be Made in California
Earlier this week Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 16, a bill by Fresno Assemblymember Henry Perea to encourage high speed train cars to be made in California.
“Simply put, these bills make it easier for people to do business in California,” Gov. Brown said in a news release.
Authored by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, Assembly Bill 16 sets a policy for the High-Speed Rail Authority to encourage the purchasing of rail cars and equipment that are manufactured in California for the state’s planned high-speed rail system.
Sacramento-based Siemens Rail Systems hopes to build the nation’s first high-speed rail cars in Sacramento.
“Siemens has seen first-hand the benefits of high speed rail for communities around the globe and is pleased that California is taking the lead in the United States,” Siemens spokesman Michael Krampe wrote in reaction to the signing of AB 16. “We stand ready to provide the best trains in the world for California once the project enters into the rolling stock procurement phase. Siemens will also work to assist the project with its offerings on infrastructure (signaling, electrification, building technologies, etc.) as the different phases of development deem appropriate.”
Siemens is obviously well positioned to land this business, given that they have the Sacramento facility, have bought land next door to allow expansion of the facility in order to make the HSR cars, and have experience around the world making these vehicles.
But they’re not the only ones in the hunt. Alstom has a facility at Mare Island that conducts Amtrak maintenance, but could easily be reconfigured or expanded to handle HSR production.
Other companies such as Hitachi, Kawasaki, Kinki Sharyo, and Hyundai that have built high speed trainsets could presumably build a California assembly plant without much trouble. For example, Kinki Sharyo has an assembly plant in Washington State to supply light rail vehicles to Sound Transit. With plenty of affordable industrial land in the Central Valley it would not be difficult for them to set up operations there.
Still, Siemens and Alstom are two of the global leaders in HSR manufacturing, and the fact that both already have facilities in California gives them a head start in competing to build HSR trainsets in the state. No matter who gets the contract, it may be California workers who win. And that’s as it should be.