Amtrak announced Thursday that it plans to replace the 40-year-old rail cars on many long-distance trains, including the storied California Zephyr, Empire Builder and Southwest Chief.
The railroad said that 10 manufacturers submitted concepts for new rail cars in response to a Request for Information from Amtrak. A formal procurement request will be issued later this year, Amtrak said in a press release. The 2021 infrastructure law provides the needed funding, Amtrak said.
“We are looking for new trains that improve safety, reliability, accessibility, and efficiency while offering the features our customers believe are most important to modernizing overnight train travel for the 21st century," said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia in the press release.
Amtrak currently serves 14 long-distance routes, which it defines as those more than 750 miles between endpoints. New diesel-electric locomotives, mainly for use on long-distance trains, were ordered last year from Siemens Mobility and are manufactured in Sacramento, California.
These investments have received political support from both sides of the aisle.
"Long-distance passenger rail is important to Kansans, and I have been working to secure a commitment from Amtrak to preserve these routes,” said Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas in the press release. “I look forward to continue working with Amtrak on further investments in long-distance passenger rail service."
Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen said in the press release, “This funding will support the iconic City of New Orleans route that passes through Memphis on its way south from Chicago.”