Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL) led a bipartisan letter to the Conference Committee on the transportation bill urging the removal of a provision in the Senate-passed bill that would set back development of rail technology.
Contained in the Senate transportation bill is an amendment that would allow federal funds to be used to purchase diesel electric passenger locomotives capable of only running at the speed of 110 mph, directly contradicting the Next Generation Equipment Committee's (NGEC) recommendation that new locomotives be capable of running at 125 mph. The NGEC, established by the 2008 passenger rail act and comprised of federal and state officials, manufacturers, and other key stakeholders, arrived at the 125mph recommendation after a thorough, expert-driven process.
As the letter states, "Maintaining the speed of 125 mph ensures that America's passenger railroad system will be more modern, efficient, and attractive to riders. Faster passenger trains mean less travel time, and less travel time increases both ridership and revenue. Moreover, diesel-electric locomotives designed for 125 mph use less fuel, and impose less wear-and-tear on train tracks, train-wheels, and switches."
Congresswoman Matsui stated, "The government should be working to encourage innovation, efficiency, and progress in our rail system -- not to keep us stuck in the past. By requiring new trains to be built for 125 mph, we are incentivizing advancements and helping to move our transit systems into the 21st century."
The bipartisan and geographically-diverse group of letter signees are: Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC), Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH), Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Timothy Walz (D-MN), and Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC).