The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has selected the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to lead the procurement of high-speed rail locomotives on behalf of US states Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.
Under the plan, 35 locomotives will be purchased, some of which will help Illinois run a 110mph service on at least 75% of the Chicago – St. Louis corridor by the end of 2015.
As lead agency, IDOT will be responsible for the procurement, involving other states in the planning and procurement process, developing a project plan and managing a review of the procurement among the other states and the FRA.
Illinois Secretary of Transportation Ann L. Schneider said that the agency’s goal is to offer 110mph services on the Dwight – Alton segment of the Chicago – St. Louis corridor by the end of 2015, and the locomotives are key to achieving that goal.
"It takes time to build these complex and powerful engines, however, and we are moving quickly to get this procurement under way as soon as possible," Schneider said.
The US Government has earmarked $808m for the construction of next-generation locomotives, rail equipment and passenger coaches.
The new locomotives, which will be purchased through a bidding process, will be paired with 130 bi-level rail cars being built at the Nippon-Sharyo plant that opened in 2012 in Rochelle, Illinois.
IDOT is currently working with the private railroads and FRA to ensure that positive train control requirements and all needed track and crossing improvements are completed to expand the 110mph service in the future.
The 110mph service was launched by IDOT in autumn 2012 on a 15-mile segment of the Chicago – St. Louis corridor from Dwight to Pontiac.
Illinois received approval from the FRA in December 2012 to carry out the corridor segment studies and specific project studies to bring high-speed service to the last 25% of the corridor, including segments from Joliet to Chicago and from Alton to St. Louis.
The segment from Dwight to Joliet is currently under development, with the 110mph service scheduled to launch in 2017.
Image: The 35 new next-generation diesel locomotives will be paired with 130 bi-level rail cars being built at the Nippon-Sharyo plant in Illinois. Credit: Nippon Sharyo.