XpressWest Struggled to Meet Federal Buy America Rules

Jul 16th, 2013 | Posted by

The letter that Ray LaHood wrote to XpressWest to inform them their loan application review had been suspended has now surfaced. (Hat tip to Mike Rosenberg.) As you can see in the letter, which is embedded below, XpressWest was struggling to meet the federal government’s Buy America rules mandating domestic manufacturing for projects that use certain federal dollars or loan programs – including the loan program XpressWest sought to use. This appears to have been the key sticking point and eventually led LaHood to suspend review of the loan application.

Ray LaHood's letter to XpressWest by Mike Rosenberg

Although some parts of the letter have been redacted by the US Department of Transportation owing to confidentiality rules, the gist of the letter is clear. You can also sense frustration on the part of LaHood regarding the many years that this process has been taking and the inability to reach a resolution.

However, I do not see in this letter a final “no” from the USDOT regarding the loan application. Instead they have “decided to suspend further consideration” of the request. They can also decide to resume further consideration of the loan request should the situation change. If LaHood wanted to kill the loan application and the project with it, he would have done so and he would have said so. My guess is this letter is designed to get XpressWest to make some significant changes to their approach and show them that the USDOT will not wait around forever.

We don’t know enough from this letter exactly what the nature of the challenge was regarding the Buy America rules. It looks like they wanted to utilize a foreign equipment manufacturer and thus override the Buy America rules. USDOT wanted them to work with another grant recipient (likely the California HSR project), but for whatever reason, XpressWest continued to pursue a Buy America exemption. In this administration they are highly unlikely to get such an exemption for the reasons LaHood described in the letter.

I don’t think this is the end of the XpressWest story. And it shouldn’t be the end of the Vegas HSR story. The United States desperately needs a nationwide network of electric high speed trains connecting metropolises to each other as part of our work to reduce oil consumption and fight global warming, and that includes a link from Southern California to Southern Nevada. Let’s hope that a way forward is found to allow the XpressWest project, or one much like it, to get funded and built.

  1. JJJJ
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 17:21
    #1

    Why have some american jobs when you could have zero american jobs instead!

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, agreed, at least the CHSRA likes American jobs…

  2. Paul Dyson
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 18:07
    #2

    Well it only took DoT 30 months to figure this out, as opposed to the legally mandated 90 days, and still no decision. What is the real deal with the RRIF program? Supposedly they have millions unallocated and available to lend but DoT is unable to give timely decisions. Is it a similar case to the Prop 1B rolling stock bonds? Is the hand of the Treasury behind this? Yes, we have lots of money to lend, we’ll let you know (eventually) whether you qualify or not. With luck you’ll find the money elsewhere…

    Alan Reply:

    You’d rather that USDOT make snap judgments on multi-billion dollar loans? When significant details about the project’s viability haven’t been resolved? The baggers would have a field day with that.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Assuming the application had all the information DoT needs then 90 days is quite sufficient. The Congress mandated 90 days so they can hardly complain. 30 months is ridiculous for a loan request response unless it’s for Mr. Musk’s new tech. People on this blog like to say that HSR is tried and true, so the due diligence should not be too much of a hurdle.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Furthermore, if you are asking for a loan you need to have the project’s viability resolved first, not hope that you can make your case later.

    MarkB Reply:

    Homebuilding is tried and true, but mortgage applications can take forever, and hinge on information that has nothing to do with the home itself. Same here. The tie-up didn’t appear to be about tried-and-true HSR technology but about business form, capitalization, partnerships, procurement, ad infinitum. That’s what the letter speaks of.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I suspect that this triggered one of the classic exemptions to time limits.

    Due to failure to provide a clear explanation of how the scheme would satisfy Buy America, I would lay bets that the application was considered to be *incomplete* and was sent back for alterations. Accordingly the application is not considered to have been submitted yet, and the 90-day window hasn’t started.

    Just guessing, but that’s my educated guess.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Certainly, there were ongoing discussions occuring. In this event, it is very likely the two talked at least monthly, and, quite possibly more. Phone. Email. Other letters. Etc.

    You really don’t need the blow by blow, do you?

  3. Alon Levy
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 18:37
    #3

    USDOT wanted them to work with another grant recipient (likely the California HSR project), but for whatever reason, XpressWest continued to pursue a Buy America exemption. In this administration they are highly unlikely to get such an exemption for the reasons LaHood described in the letter.

    I sincerely hope this is an excuse rather than policy that will be used against future projects.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Like Robert, I also do not assume the project is dead. It can live on… so long as objections raised by the DOT are adequately addressed.

    In part, the letter could be functioning as a notice to… fix the problem, because, the DOT is not backing down and have the necessary political support.

  4. Peter
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 19:51
    #4

    Interesting, so, unlike what the teabaggers have been claiming, it has been put on hold because of Buy America requirements, not because of financial viability. I’m curious which rolling stock manufacturer XpressWest was working with that was unable to comply with Buy America. I know that XpressWest had Zefiros pictured on its website, but that is no guarantee.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Buy American” leads directly to financial non-viabiliity; tea-baggers (except as brave American representatives on the know-nothing class) have less than nothing to do with it.

    Look no further than “Plan American” CHSRA. $800+ million of has disappeared without a trace procuring the very finest American rail megaproject expertise, with billions more to follow.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    I suspect it is not financially viable. Too much federal $ relative to local support.

  5. synonymouse
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 20:21
    #5

    Maybe it is merely a tacitly agreed upon cover story for everyone to save face.

  6. Clem
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 20:23
    #6

    They made a cardinal mistake years ago when they didn’t solicit a request for quote from Colorado Railcar.

    Reedman Reply:

    You mean US Railcar?

    Peter Reply:

    Right, because what DesertXpress really needed was an overweight POS FRA-compliant DMU. There’s a reason why Colorado/US Railcar went out of business.

    Joey Reply:

    Sarchasm!

    Peter Reply:

    Nonono, I was just adding my own sarcasm to Clem’s. Just maybe not very well.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You are all missing the obvious. Siemens City Sprinter locomotives (built in Sacramento, extra points for that) plus Rochelle built Nippon Sharyo bi-levels. Run at 125mph for first 5 years or so until HSR connection is ready, then trade that stuff in (there will be a residual market) for proper HSR kit. Both locos and cars are in production and an add on to the run should be less expensive. Added bonus: great view from the bi-levels of the sidewinders, desert tortoises etc.

    Peter Reply:

    Nahh, buy Wisconsin’s red-headed-stepchild Talgo trainsets.

    Eric Reply:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Take your pick

  7. Andrew L-A
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 21:57
    #7

    So, X Train?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Party on!

  8. morris brown
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 22:25
    #8

    Feds: XpressWest failed to meet ‘Buy America’ rules for high-speed train

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/traffic-transportation/feds-xpresswest-failed-meet-buy-america-rules-high-speed-train

    Noted in this article is a quote:

    “The loan application of XpressWest is suspended and no longer under consideration,” said Kevin Thompson, associate administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. “How XpressWest chooses to proceed is really up to them.”

    Why so much of the letter is redacted is not clear.

    This boondoggle is dead, period, thank heavens. If XpressWest can find fully private funding, let them proceed.

    One should seriously doubt that the real reason(s) this loan (which for sure would never be repaid and thus end up as a grant), was denied is not because of “buy America” restrictions. It would be nice to have the real story. Certainly LaHood would never give any credit to Wendell Cox and the Reason Foundation for getting the GAO involved, which probably is the real reason this has been stopped.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nor should he give any credit; the report was fraudulent and if the GAO read it and didn’t make paper airplanes out of it it’s one more blot against it.

  9. Emmanuel
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 22:42
    #9

    It’s always amusing to see how projects fail to meet the rules under Republican legislature but they miraculously get a pass under Democratic legislature. XpressWest shouldn’t give up. It sounds like the best way to connect SoCal to Vegas. But, it cannot hold CHSRA decisionmaking back. Tejon it is.

  10. morris brown
    Jul 16th, 2013 at 22:44
    #10

    @Robert:

    You might well want to take issue with a statement in this article I just read in the San Mateo County Times.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/john-horgan/ci_23673987/john-horgan-resource-keeping-up-high-speed-rail

    John Horgan: A resource for keeping up with high-speed rail info

    The article states:

    For those interested in the overall project, intended to be a statewide effort, the California High Speed Rail Authority continues to maintain an excellent and lively blog devoted to the controversial subject.

    Robert you have maintained on numerous occasions the blog here blog is not part of the Authority; you might want to take exception to this article.

    Reality Check Reply:

    For those interested in the overall project, intended to be a statewide effort, the California High Speed Rail Authority continues to maintain an excellent and lively blog devoted to the controversial subject.

    Without doubt, the forum is a discussion vehicle overwhelmingly in favor of completing the ambitious system as proposed. Enthusiastic rail devotee Robert Cruikshank is the primary author of posted topics.

    But respondents are free to question, clarify, criticize and debate within the boundaries of good taste and decorum.

    Recently, an in-depth look at how the quick train should cross the formidable Tehachapi Mountains south of Bakersfield (via the Tejon Pass or another route to the east proceeding through Palmdale, which is preferred) has generated hundreds of responses.

    Blogger Clem Tillier, in particular, has come up with his own analysis of the vital mountain passage options which he posted last month.

    It’s all available at http://www.cahsrblog.com. Check it out.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yeah, Robert needs to correct that.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @morris brown

    The affiliation information is also available at the ‘About’ link in the title bar of this site, showing that John Horgan didn’t perform due diligence. Or cut’n'paste Robert’s name properly.

  11. Reality Check
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 01:04
    #11

    Turlock to San Jose: An ACE of a deal

    It might not be high-speed rail, but the city of Turlock, along with Modesto and Merced, are expected to become a part of Altamont Corridor Express or ACE commuter trains in the next 10 years.

    The project, set to be completed in 2022 for Turlock and in 2018 for Modesto, would create a connecting pathway from Merced to San Jose, running alongside the current Union Pacific Rail.

  12. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 04:31
    #12

    In other news, it looks like we may get a feature on trains we may not want or need–I certainly don’t!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23167112

    Just watching this gives me a feeling of disgust, just like the fellow at about 0:30 who just wanted a snooze!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azwL5eoE5aI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2a9VHsYaqg

    swing hanger Reply:

    Looks like a good way to keep the windows clean. On the Yamanote Line in Tokyo, the car cleaners only clean the lower half of the windows above the seating, as that’s where all the hair oils, pomades, and mousses get smeared on by the bobbing/nodding heads.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    Wow! No need for subliminal messages here!

    Jim

    Nathanael Reply:

    Will not be tolerated. Look what happened to other sorts of intrusive adverts — they get sabotaged very, VERY quickly.

  13. Keith Saggers
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 05:11
    #13

    Meanwhile Amtrak (NEC) and CHSR are already cooperating on the development of next generation high speed trains. Let XpressWest join them in this effort and have interoperable train sets in California.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Meanwhile Amtrak (NEC) and CHSR are already cooperating

    Because if there’s one thing a stand-alone green-field in the 21st century project needs, it’s to be tied to the Pennsylvania Rail Road and Amtrak.

    I can’t imagine why Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Brazil hadn’t considered this sort of synergistic co-development with Amtrak. It just shows how far ahead of the curve CHSRA is. Imagine how much they could learn from us!

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Who knows. If we are lucky enough, it will be made in America with all American characteristics. Overweight, slow, armed, maybe even running on Diesel.

    I think it’s amusing how they already think about the cars, but don’t bother on planning the extension to San Diego and Sacramento so that they could have those shovel ready next time. But, I guess the Authority can only focus on one thing at a time…

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I’m surprised they didn’t do this from the start. After all, they’re expecting to use California tracks from both Victorville to LA and Victorville to SF. The Las Vegas line is really a spur off of the California system – one that under the proposed arrangement will also be publicly funded. Interoperability should be a top priority, and a legitimate requirement of the funding agency.

    A lot of the “private” high speed rail proposals around the country are just well-connected promoters hoping to get their hands on $ Billions of public money. So far, the Las Vegas train seems to fit into this category.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Different train speeds, different requirements.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    At AL, what an odd comment. TGV has different train speeds on some of its “branch”lines but obviously you don’t build a different type of train. The line to LV has to be built to the same standards as any ever built in CA to which it might connect, as I have remarked here before. Otherwise you end up transferring at Palmdale, such a lot of nonsense. There should be no public money forthcoming for an incompatible system.
    On the other hand to make any connection between rolling stock for CA and NV and with ATK in the NEC is a different matter. This is just a desperate attempt by ATK to save their sinking ship by trying to be relevant in the west.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The line to Las Vegas is (was?) planned to have a top speed of 240 km/h, and it’s extremely unlikely any train could get much faster on the LA-Palmdale grades. So there’s relatively little benefit to using a train capable of 350 km/h instead of one capable of just 250.

    The TGVs all use the LGVs, which have line speeds beginning at 270 km/h (usually 300) and going up to 320 km/h.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Exactly right.

    wdobner Reply:

    150mph/250km/h MAS was bandied about in the initial phases of DesertXpress, but it now appears they’re shooting for somewhere in the vicinity of 190mph/305km/h. After all, DB’s experience with the ICx (as well as Renfe’s CAF-built trains, and most especially the Dutch/Belgian V250 disaster by Ansaldobreda), shows that there is little or no savings in purchasing slower trains for local or regional services. You may as well buy very high speed trainsets and achieve greater market share through shorter travel times. In Xpresswest’s case they probably came to the conclusion that the cost increase to achieve ~200mph was marginal but lead to more revenue out of proportion to the investment.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Where exactly does it appear? Recently the company pronounced the time savings of 200 mph vs. 150 as marginal and not worth the energy costs.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Exactly. Things like dwell times, acceleration rates, and station limit approach and departure speeds are more important than top speed in many cases, as high speed trains in general don’t cruise at their top speeds for long periods.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Do we know where on the California system trains will actually go 220 mph? I would have thought a route along an interstate through the middle of nowhere would have been one of those places.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    I bet you they might even come to the incredibly stupid conclusion to use two different gauges for whatever reason.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    They’ve already decided to use 4 foot 8.5 inch gauge, and throw away anything remotely 1435mm.

    For God’s sake, the World Class Rail Transportation Professionals of PBQD=CHSRA have even invented their own globally-unique turnout geometry “standards” to go with their freight-derived rail profile and signalling (track circuits! how about some relays with that?) requirements.

    We reinvented the wheel, and it’s square. And weaponized.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    same thing

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Not the same thing. Get a clue.
    $800+ million and skyrocketing for PBQD’s square wheels.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    They’ve already decided to use 4 foot 8.5 inch gauge, and throw away anything remotely 1435mm. same thing.

    Joey Reply:

    There is a slight difference if you don’t round. What’s the gauge tolerance at 350 km/h?

    Peter Reply:

    It’s 1/10 of a millimeter difference. Literally splitting hairs.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I believe 2-3 mm. There should be an example here, but Amtrak wi-fi refuses to open the page.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Maybe he meant the units and the fact that CHSRA and friends want everything to be measured in freedom units.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s far worse than that.

    It’s not just Freedom Units.

    It’s that they respecify and reinvent and make random shit up and make arithmetic mistakes and randomly mash together pieces of AREMA freight practice and stuff shims into any gaps that are noticed and declare the arbitrary turds they excrete thereby to be THE STANDARD.

    Compliance is Mandatory.

    If the worst the sub-cretins involved were doing was consistently dividing by 254 and then dividing by 12, while leaving the proportions to grown-ups, we’d be in heaven. But we’re not. We’re in PBQD’s world.

    nick Reply:

    I think keith meant that 4′ 8 1/2 ” = 1435mm unless you are making some other kind of obscure comment of which I have totally missed the point !

    synonymouse Reply:

    Consider yourselves fortunate that PBQD is not specifying 5.5 foot gauge.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Everyone uses track circuits, Richard. Actually, relays are still heavily used in modern ERTMS installations; relays are more reliable for many applications than their successor, the transistor.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Nathanael”,

    Please stick to typing about what you know about.

    I’m not sure what that might be, and no evidence has emerged to date, but there must be something.

    Thanks!

  14. morris brown
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 08:54
    #14

    More nails pounded into the coffin for the project.

    While Robert writes:

    “However, I do not see in this letter a final “no” from the USDOT regarding the loan application. Instead they have “decided to suspend further consideration” of the request. ” , maybe he should reconsider.

    See:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/17/feds-suspend-review-55b-loan-for-vegas-to-calif-train/

    The company is not hanging up the towel yet. In a statement, XpressWest claimed it was waiting for more information from the administration.

    “While the loan process for XpressWest has been suspended, it is our understanding the project is still being reviewed,” the statement said. “We believe high speed rail in the western United States is both feasible and desired. We await further information and direction from the Administration. We at XpressWest have always known that a project of this magnitude would undergo painstaking and diligent review.”


    A Transportation Department spokesman, however, told FoxNews.com that the statement from the company is “incorrect.”

    “We are no longer considering it,” the spokesman said.

    nick Reply:

    If they meant cancel would they not just say that rather then “suspend” or is it too much to hope that politicians might say what they mean, or am I answering my own question ? !!

    Also surely the rails and ballast and concrete etc would be usa made and that hopefully most of the employement would be in the usa. with hs2 in the uk the value of the trains was roughly 1/5 of that of the entire project.

    Nathanael Reply:

    *Sigh*. What this means, in my best guess, is that XpressWest’s application was considered incomplete. It is therefore not being considered. This does not preclude XpressWest submitting a new, complete application.

  15. Keith Saggers
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 11:14
    #15

    we have decided to “suspend” further consideration of XpressWest’s loan request,” LaHood wrote.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    suspend

    Verb

    1.Temporarily prevent from continuing or being in force or effect: “work on the dam was suspended”.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    If the problem is truly a “Made in USA” requirement, it should be easy to talk to Siemens, Alstom, or Talgo to conform to that requirement. I doubt the rail, ballast or ties would be imported. Is there anything else that would be imported?

    Jim

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why would Alstom et al bother to open a plant in the US for a small order of 250 km/h trains?

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    There is already a plant in Hornell, NY making railcars. Building a small order here could open the door for new opportunities since until recently, this looked like the first new HST on US soil to operate (since Florida threw in the towel).

    Jim

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Hornell plant is for large orders for New York subway cars. Victorville-Vegas is (was) supposed to take 80 minutes, so if it’s 3 hours roundtrip with turnaround time, maybe 3:20 or 3:30 to allow for some inefficiency, a peak frequency of 3 tph requires 10 sets, or 80 cars. A peak frequency of 5 tph requires 17 sets, or 136 cars. Alstom’s share of the R160 order was 1,002 cars.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are busy rebuilding PATCO cars in Hornell last I heard. So they use it for things other than subway cars.

    Joey Reply:

    So the thing they use it for other than building rapid transit cars is refurbishing rapid transit cars?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    PATCO cars are commuter cars short enough to get into tunnels built for the Philadelphia subway.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The PATCO cars are rapid transit cars with a different loading gauge from what is normal on US subways. The top speed and electrification are typical of rapid transit rather than longer-distance commuter rail. Loading gauges among the world’s subways are so variable that modular products like the Metropolis and the Movia are designed from the start to be modifiable to fit them, even to fit different track gauges.

    wdobner Reply:

    The loading gauge isn’t *that* different. It may have a 67 foot maximum length, sure. But essentially it’s the same as the BMT’s specs that form the basis of loading gauges for subways in Philadelphia, Boston, and, to a lesser extent, Los Angeles, Miami, and Baltimore.

    It’s worth noting we’re the fastest mass transit system in North America.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Alon: Alstom Hornell NY built the California Surfliner cars, doesn’t seem to fit the category of “large orders of New York subway cars”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And how much did those cars cost per unit?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    A lot more than with a long production run. Your point?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s exactly my point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I dunno, how much did they cost per unit?
    NJTrensit’s first round of multilevels cost 1.8 and that included training and parts inventory. MARC is paying 2.8 per car and NJTransit just exercised options for more at 1.5 million per car. M8s are just under 2.3 and Silverliner 5s are coming in at about the same.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    No, your point was that Hornell only builds subway cars.
    High unit cost because of small orders is not the manufacturers’ fault or of the location where they are built. RailPAC has been trying for years to instill the virtues of a steady state production of a standard hull car. This may finally be happening at Rochelle but years too late and to a 1990s design.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    High unit cost because of small orders is not the manufacturers’ fault or of the location where they are built.

    Oh yes it is. It’s directly the fault of all of the purchasing and regulatory agencies who explicitly telegraph that cost is no object and award contracts only to manufacturers who have, perfectly economically rationally, taken that message to heart.

    RailPAC has been trying for years to instill the virtues of a steady state production of a standard hull car. This may finally be happening at Rochelle but years too late and to a 1990s design.

    RailPAC, like Rochelle, seems to be a couple decades behind the curve with the “hulls” and all.

    The first thing to understand — understand! — is that even “massive” orders for identical rail vehicles are measured in the hundreds. The sorts of economies of scale you might imagine from producing hundreds of millions of widgets from an automated assembly line are nearly irrelevant. Look at Boeing’s assembly lines, not Coca-Cola’s.

    What matters more is flexibility and design process; use standard (standard-ish) components; don’t “innovate” crazily and give in to insane customer demands on the stuff that fucks up (traction, traction control, doors, suspension); have a reliable sub-assembly supply chain. What doesn’t matter so much is the precise dimension of the “hull”; given the real-world range of different vehicle profiles and given the real-world size of vehicle orders and given the modest fraction of total contract cost that a “hull” represents, the cost of tooling for a particular variant (taller! thinner! wider! narrow gauge! shorter!) of a basic design isn’t a huge deal. (This unlike Boeing!)

    But to take advantage of these real economies one has to be ordering from a flexible facility with the processes in place and to give a damn about cost. “I want my Special Snowflake Shittrain that I Just Dreamed Up for No Explicable Reason and I Want it From America” is the exactly the way to drive costs through the roof and quality through the floor. As we see. It has nothing to with “smallness of orders”. One could argue to the contrary: the larger the order, the slacker the manufacturing process and the bigger the power of the seller over the buyer.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Paul, small orders can and should be as standard as possible. The best example in North America is the O-Train, whose first order piggybacked on a much larger DB order for DMUs.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Given the freaking insane Buy America “assembled in the US” rules, which really need to be abolished, the standard approach by most manufacturers has been to set up a final assembly plant somewhere in the US. Usually in an old railcar manufacturing facility.

    Given a large enough order — and yes, hundreds would be enough — Bombardier would do the same as CAF and Talgo did. CAF and Talgo are smaller and scrappier so they were willing to do it with smaller orders.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The best example in North America is the O-Train

    What about the stuff NJTransit North orders for Montreal and the stuff NJTransit South orders for Baltimore and DC?

    Joey Reply:

    The stuff NJT orders is anything but non-compliant and off-the-shelf.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The major difference between the stuff AMT is using and the stuff MARC is ordering is the paint scheme. How is hundreds of cars not “off the shelf”

    nick Reply:

    For possible additional and future business maybe. I doubt that the recently announced Hitachi plant in the North east of England is being built just for the IEP (intercity 125 mph electric diesel hybrids for non hsr inter-city lines) but for future UK and European business such as trainsets for HS2. Pulling out of the EU might put this plant and others at risk of at least partial closure depending upon the terms of the seperation !

    nick Reply:

    also presumably you could build variants of the HSR sets to give 240 /or 320 kph trains. and if you had through running from one system to the other you would want all trains using both systems to be capable of running at the higher speed

    nick Reply:

    Sorry just read your comment ! great minds etc

  16. Keith Saggers
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 11:50
    #16

    Bombardier has plant here, Lear jet anyone?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Boeing LRV anyone?

    swing hanger Reply:

    As Alon mentioned, likely Bombardier (or whoever the proposed builder was) didn’t want to set up tooling/an assembly line for what amounts to a one-off order (the U.S. market still being uncharted territory full of risk/uncertainty). The idea was likely to order off-the-shelf trainsets from a European assembly line, which, of course, is the most technically and financially sound course of action.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Deserted Xprss would have had to be an integral part of the CAHSR, identical in terms of equipment and operations, signalization, etc. And of course it was never authorized in Prop 1A.

    Did these private entrepreneurs finally realize they would eventually have to cope with the same militant unions so dear and close to the hearts of the patronage machine? Maybe they got a load of BART, the most likely template for CAHSR.

    They were no doubt thinking privately operated, along the lines promised in Prop 1A. Perhaps it dawned on them CAHSR is in actuality going down Jerry-style, featherbedded and boondoggled all the way. LV Rail would have had to conform, making the notion of profitable ridiculous.

    Derek Reply:

    When CAHSR’s manufacturer is chosen and the assembly plant built, it would make sense for DesertXPress to buy from the same manufacturer, and modify the loan application accordingly, and resubmit. But that’s still years away.

    Clem Reply:

    As a private enterprise they might actually care about how much their trains cost. And speaking of cost, CA’s system will never warrant a special plant being built for such a small fleet of trains…

    Derek Reply:

    CAHSR, DesertXPress, and the Acela Express all put together makes a pretty big order.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Still not large enough to build a dedicated plant for them. Putting in a special HSR-only final assembly bay in an existing plant sure, but not a full plant’s worth.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Take an existing design (or class of designs) that are known to work and to be produced from an existing design and production facility with a highly trained and experienced workforce and an existing and quality-assured network of subcontractors and sub-assembly and component suppliers.

    Replace with some piece of shit Only In American design dreamed up by the combination of the FRA and rent-seeking America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals whose only goal is to run up their own consulting tabs.

    Replace with a local-tax-giveaway factory somewhere. Race to the bottom on “local economic incentives”! Because, you know, the local Subway will sell a two dozen extra lunches to the hard-hats every day, and that means Real Jobs for Real Americans.

    Hire a few lower-level employees “from the community”. But keep the big big money in the hands of the rent-seeking pig-fucker professional government contract manipulators who “help” write the regulations, “help” write the bid specifications, “help” with election campaigns and “charity” “institutes” and “think tanks”, and whose only marketable skill is in setting up and running shell corporations.

    Get rid of any working foreign parts that might go into the vehicles. Buy American! There’s a laughably-non-competitive quality-unassured guy somewhere with an oxy torch and Murkin Citizenship who’d be just the one to fabricate your high-speed bogies and door assemblies. And ashtrays. There’s a proven failure rent-seeking government IT contractor blood-sucker who’d be just the one to design your safety and signalling systems … from scratch. You’d never want to buy anything but Klassy Amerikun Kushy seats would you? Good, because you only have one choice. I hope you were only thinking about Manly All-American Stainless Steel body shells and wouldn’t consider any other material, because that’s we’re buying. The steel in the wheels and axles must be domestic because if there’s one thing that works out super-well it’s exotic safety-critical metallurgy and fabrication. (I’d say “just ask the Germans!”, but they’re not American, so you can’t.) And we need lots of grab-irons. Lots and lots of grab-irons. Made from American Iron! Those cab control levels? They smell foreign to me …

    Get rid of the trained inspection and approval staff and process. Your guaranteed-not-to-work all-American Kustom trains need and want a nice long, long, long holiday in Colorado. When they fail immediately, think about it for a few months (bill by the hour!), then ship them back to the Advanced On-Shore Production Facility, then repeat. Issue hugely lucrative change orders because everybody has to expect some “teething problems” with a Unique Advanced Design. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. After all, schedule and cost are no object, it says so right up front!

    So yeah. No problem. We Can Assemble It. We Have The Facilities.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That needed to be said.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    except for pig f-ing

  17. morris brown
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 20:50
    #17

    Boy has the Washington Post got this right.

    Washington Post Editorial:


    The Post’s View
    Good riddance to XpressWest, the high-speed boondoogle

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-xpresswest-train-projects-deserved-demise/2013/07/17/8441378e-eefb-11e2-9008-61e94a7ea20d_story.html

    WE’VE SEEN some bad policy ideas but not many more awful than the proposal to extend a $5.5 billion low-interest, 35-year federal loan to a West Coast start-up for a high-speed rail connection between Southern California and Las Vegas. This time, though, we are happy to report, common sense has prevailed: The Obama administration has stopped the project.

    Backed by wealthy casino moguls, who in turn enjoyed the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a company called XpressWest wanted to lay tracks between Vegas and lonely Victorville, Calif., some 81 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Several times larger than the largest amount ever loaned under the obscure federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program, the federal money would cover 80 percent of the project’s costs. The supposed public benefits were reduced carbon emissions, less auto traffic and, of course, more jobs.

    …. read the full editorial…

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed. Good riddance. Now we have fewer distractions and can focus on developing a HSR system that barrels thru the Peninsula at hundreds of miles/he.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I though the focus has shifted down South, now that Antonovich is jefe.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Que? Syn, Antonovich is a lame duck. Termed out and no longer LACMTA chair as of last week. Please pay attention.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I have to confess I threw that out on purpose.

    Perhaps Antonovich and Villa are somewhat history but their mindset is shared fully by Jerry Brown, who has taken control of the CHSRA like a 17th century absolute monarch. The firing of Van Ark, which had to be countenanced if not ordered by Brown, would seem to indicate his mind is closed.

    But there really is a more profound issue here emerging from the LV Rail travails. Under Jerry the private operation for profit model envisioned in Prop 1A has been utterly replaced by the BART model. The latter features domination by militant unions with tight financial connections to the political machine and politicization thru an elected board of directors. This inexorably translates to welfare budgeting, namely subsidized fares and commute operations favored, and a very, very poor quality of top management.

    The Xpress West bunch had to have picked up on this deep modal conflict at some time in the process. It amounts to California style vs. Nevada style, expensive union vs. cheap union, and the winner is obvious. You proceed from a level of losses that the casinos might be talked into subventing to ridiculous red ink.

    Another major question is Prop 1A, which is strictly in-state. The clear implication of rolling in LV Rail as an integral part of the CHSRA scheme is selling off to another entity, probably Amtrak. There are a lot of liberals, maybe even some judges, who don’t care for Vegas. You could be risking a re-vote of Prop 1A. At this point that might be the best course – kill off the orphan ARRA-IOS.

  18. Reality Check
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 21:50
    #18

    Paris train disaster highlights dark side of French railway dream
    While the TGV has won acclaim the rest of France has struggled with neglected, ageing and overcrowded local lines

  19. Reality Check
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 21:55
    #19

    Harry Reid on high-speed rail project: ‘It’s not over yet’

    Sen. Harry Reid will be doing some shuttle diplomacy with the White House next week to get things moving on a suspended federal loan application for the XpressWest high-speed rail project.

  20. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 17th, 2013 at 22:56
    #20
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