UNITED States private operator Brightline has selected Siemens Mobility as the preferred bidder for a contract to supply 10 seven-car American Pioneer 220 (AP220) high-speed EMUs. They will operate on the 350km, $US 12bn Brightline West high-speed line under construction between Las Vegas and southern California.

The contract includes 30 years of maintenance that will be performed at Brightline West’s vehicle maintenance facility in Sloan, Nevada. Work includes both routine daily maintenance as well as long-term overhauls and repairs. “This will generate high-paying jobs performing train maintenance activities on a permanent basis,” Brightline says.

Siemens plans to establish a new US facility to build the AP220, complying with the Buy America requirements of the contract. It will announce the location of “America’s first true high-speed rail production centre” when the contract is finalised.

The AP220 is described as an evolution of the Siemens Velaro high-speed train platform. The 350km/h trains will be built specifically for the US market and will be the first very high-speed trains built in the United States, according to Brightline.

Separately, Siemens has been shortlisted, along with Alstom, for a contract to supply six 350km/h trains for the publicly-funded California high-speed project, the first phase of which will run between Bakersfield and Merced. This contract is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.

The trains will have capacity for 434-450 passengers, depending on final configuration, and will enable end-to-end journey times of less than two hours on the line, which is scheduled to open in 2028.

Siemens says the AP220 will feature an ultrawide carbody designed for “unparalleled passenger comfort and to be the most accessible train on the market,” exceeding Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and enabling passengers in wheelchairs to move with ease from car to car.

Brightline says it conducted an extensive competitive procurement process involving multiple international suppliers and selected Siemens based on “specific criteria” that included price, manufacturing schedule, train performance including speed, ADA compliance, passenger amenities and total passenger capacity. The criteria considered future interoperability with the California high-speed project.

Siemens also supplied the diesel Venture push-pull trains that operate on Brightline’s Florida service, which began in 2018.

“Just as we redefined train travel with our trains for Brightline Florida, we are excited to pioneer this new frontier of manufacturing and development for Brightline West,” says Brightline CEO, Mr Michael Reininger. “The momentum we are building will culminate in new jobs and a new supply chain that will establish the foundation for a high-speed rail industry from coast to coast.”

Brightline West broke ground on the new line on April 22, the vast majority of which will be constructed in the median of the I-15 highway. The line will include stops in Las Vegas as well as Victor Valley, Hesperia and Rancho Cucamonga in California. The project was awarded $US 3bn in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill in December. Brightline says the remaining $US 9bn capital cost will be privately funded.

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Brightline West is highlighted in a recent report by Aecom as an example of a privately-led high-speed project that is progressing in a region where delivery has traditionally been difficult, as Kevin Smith highlights this opinion piece, available to subscribers.