August 25, 2023 - TRA Newswire -
Texas would have been the ideal state for Siemens Mobility to host the groundbreaking for a brand new $220 million passenger railcar manufacturing and services facility. Building passenger trains and servicing them smack dab in the middle of the country would have made a lot of sense. It could have been a major win for Texas with 500 good-paying jobs.
But the prize instead goes to Lexington, North Carolina.
Why? North Carolina is a rail-friendly state that continues to expand their intercity passenger rail footprint.
Compared to North Carolina, Texas is not a passenger rail-friendly state.
Call it legislative and transportation department indifference to passenger rail in Texas.
We have a state department of transportation and a Texas Transportation Commission that has little ambition to champion anything with the words "passenger rail" in the title. A state transportation agency that could not come up with a funding shortfall for the Fort Worth to Oklahoma City daily Heartland Flyer and forced the regional council of governments to cover the difference. A state legislature that is sold on roads, roads and more roads. A law passed that forbids one dollar of state funds to be used for high-speed rail projects. A gaggle of rural officials and a few rural members of Congress that have a hatred for trains going over 110 miles per hour. A rare application from TxDOT to apply for a passenger rail corridor identification grant from the Federal Railroad Administration did not even rate a news release from the agency.
If you were going to place a new $220 million rail facility in one state, would you choose Texas?
North Carolina wooed Siemens Mobility so they can meet the growing demand for passenger rail in the U.S. That demand
has been propelled by funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that Congress passed in 2021. Already other red and blue states are applying for federal grants and laying the groundwork for expanding conventional and passenger rail service.
Marc Buncher, CEO of Siemens Mobility North America was quoted as saying "A huge milestone in the opening of the new facility, our team is excited about our future in Lexington and the great state of North Carolina. This is not just an investment in rail, but an investment in manufacturing, jobs, sustainability, digitaisation and the future of modern transportation."
The North Carolina plant, to open in 2024, will incorporate many of the latest technologies found in Siemens' Sacramento facility. It will include robotic welding, 3D printing and virtual reality welder training. It will also include a first-of-its-kind
locomotive and passenger coach overhaul facility.
Michael Cahill, President of Rolling Stock, Siemens Mobility North America said "Our new east coast hometown will soon be a powerhouse when it comes to rail manufacturing. Complementing our operations in Sacramento, our bi-coastal
facilities will work together to manufacture the latest rail technology and transform communities across the country."
Congratulations to North Carolina. You are thinking multi-modal solutions for the future. You should be proud.
Photo credit: Siemens Mobility
Photo credit: Siemens Mobility