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Deputy Secretary John Porcari speaks at the Passenger Rail Forum (3/14/2013)

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari addressing the Passenger Rail Forum
Washington, DC, March 13, 2013

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Hello everyone.  It’s great to have you here at DOT today. 

As Secretary LaHood just mentioned, this Administration has made unprecedented investments in our national rail infrastructure over the last four years.  These investments have been driven by President Obama’s vision for a national passenger rail network that meets the needs of a 21st century population – and a 21st century economy.

Now, we know President Obama’s vision for rail won’t happen overnight.  We need a sustained commitment – not only from the federal government, but from our states, stakeholders, and the private sector.  But this is a vision worth pursuing. 

And even our initial work has shown how investment can create jobs and economic development.

For the first time in more than a decade, the American economy is adding new manufacturing jobs.  And as we modernize our rail network, our tough Buy America standards ensure that everything – from tracks to new stations – is built in America, with American hands, and with American-made parts and supplies.

Last fall, California awarded the newly-opened Nippon Sharyo plant in Illinois with a contract to build 130 rail cars that will serve passengers in Illinois and throughout the Midwest.  That plant has in turn identified more than 200 potential suppliers and vendors in Illinois and Wisconsin alone that it can work with to build the cars, as well as many others throughout the country.

In fact, nationwide, our investments mean new orders for railway suppliers, located in 49 out of 50 states and representing 94,000 workers.  The Ohio-based manufacturer Cleveland Track Material designed and built 15 specialized track pieces for the Amtrak Downeaster project in Maine.  Thanks to these orders, Cleveland Track was able to stay busy during the economic downturn and prevent layoffs.  Over the last year alone, the company has invested over $5 million in new production equipment at the plant. 

And Cleveland Track was just one of the 53 companies across 20 states that received a supply order from the Downeaster project.

More recently, Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority have answered our call to work together to explore bundled procurement for the next generation of high-speed rail equipment – equipment designed to reach 220 miles per hour. Combining orders will incentivize high-speed rail manufacturers to build factories domestically, creating more high-quality jobs and tremendous opportunities for suppliers.

One thing is clear: investments in rail aren’t just crucial to the health of our national transportation system.  They’re crucial to the health of our national economy.

We’re committed to President Obama’s vision for a national passenger rail network that will be the envy of the world.  And we’re turning that vision into a reality.

Now, I’d like to introduce Administrator Joe Szabo, who leads the Federal Railroad Administration.  In addition to keeping our railroads safe, FRA is working with states across the nation to build our passenger rail network.

Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013