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A Value Chain Analysis

Since the 1950s, the United States has invested far more heavily in highways and air transport than in rail transportation. There are signs, however, that the nation is beginning to step up its commitment to rail by increasing funds for intercity passenger rail (Amtrak) and urban transit rail (metros, light rail and streetcars). The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided a total of $17.7 billion for transit (including bus transit) and intercity rail programs combined, including $1.3 billion for Amtrak and $8 billion for new high-speed rail corridors and intercity passenger rail. These are small investments compared to those in other countries with well-developed rail systems, but they constitute a watershed in the nation’s commitment to passenger rail, and they have been presented as a “down payment” on future investments (White House, 2010). Similarly, current proposals for the much-anticipated renewal of the nation’s six-year surface transportation bill call for significantly greater commitments to public transit, including rail.

If the United States is to increase its investment in passenger rail and transit rail, several important questions arise: How much of the required “rolling stock”—the passenger locomotives and rail cars—will be manufactured in the United States? What gaps in the current U.S. supply chain need to be filled? What are the relevant opportunities for U.S. manufacturing?

To determine the extent of U.S. manufacturing potential and show where it lies, this report maps out the U.S. supply chain for six rail types: intercity passenger, high speed, regional, metro, light rail, and streetcars.

Associated Press Posts