The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will give $631m in grants towards the purchase of new rail cars as part of its Rail Vehicle Replacement Programme (RVRP). 

The grants will support three state transportation departments with the purchase of 300 new, American-built railcars in Chicago, Illinois; Baltimore, Maryland; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said: “Millions of Americans use subways, commuter rail, and light rail every day, but many railcars are decades old and in need of replacement. 

“Through President Biden’s infrastructure law, we’re proud to deliver 300 new railcars to give Americans a safer, more comfortable, more reliable service on America’s rails.” 

More than half of the funding, $317m, will go to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to purchase up to 200 railcars needed to replace ageing rolling stock, some of which has been in service for almost 25 years, on the most popular line of its commuter rail network. 

Secondly, the Maryland DOT’s Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) will receive around $214m to replace all of the 52 well-worn light rail vehicles in its fleet with modern, more accessible rail cars, supported by $90m from the state government in matching funds and $127.6m in federal formula funds. 

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Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said: “This federal funding is vital to enhancing safety, accessibility and performance on MTA’s light rail. By having a more reliable light rail fleet with low-floor cars, MTA will deliver premier customer service to the greater Baltimore region.” 

The other $100m in funding will be given to Chicago’s METRA commuter rail system to support the purchase of 50 multi-level rail cars to replace vehicles in its fleet that are more than 40 years old, continuing the network’s fleet replacement programme that recently included a purchase of eight Stadler BEMUs

The three grants mark the second round of funding through the FTA’s RVRP after more than $700m was given to six projects in May 2023, including $200m for the Chicago Transit Authority and $60m for the Utah Transit Authority. 

The RVRP is just one of many programmes funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law that are supporting the country’s rail industry, including $6bn towards two high-speed rail projects in California and $16bn for projects along the Northeast Corridor.