by The Chicago Times Staff

July 7, 2021

WASHINGTON — Amtrak announced a $7.3 billion purchase of new trains on Wednesday, claiming that it will “transform the future of rail travel” in the United States.

Siemens Mobility Inc. in California, a subsidiary of German conglomerate Siemens AG, will build a new fleet of 83 trains, some of which will be hybrid-battery powered.

“These new trains will reshape the future of rail travel by replacing our aging 40-to-50-year old fleet with state-of-the-art, American-made equipment.  This investment is essential to preserving and growing our Northeast Regional and state-supported services and will allow our customers to travel comfortably and safely, while deeply reducing criteria pollutants.” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement.

The taxpayer-funded railroad company claims that its new models will have more comfortable seating, as well as onboard Wi-Fi, individual power outlets and USB ports, and touchless restroom controls.

Amtrak, formally the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, stated in a press release that its investment will allow it to add an additional 130 trains to its fleet in the future, in addition to the purchase of equipment and a long-term parts supply and service agreement, facility modifications and upgrades, and other program expenses.

Amtrak’s order is the largest contract Siemens Mobility has ever had in North America, according to the company’s own press release.

The major agreement comes as President Joe Biden, a staunch supporter of Amtrak, pushes for an additional $80 billion in rail spending over the next five years as part of his infrastructure plan.  Under the president’s proposal, Amtrak would be the primary recipient of the funds.