Rail Manufacturers Will Benefit If Transportation Bill Invests in Public Transit

The U.S. rail manufacturing industry stands to undergo considerable growth in the coming years, as Amtrak upgrades its railcars and adds high-speed trains, and as lawmakers consider a transportation bill that calls for significantly greater investments in public transit, including rail, according to a new study by Duke University prepared for the Apollo Alliance.

Ohio, which is home to 13 rail-manufacturing facilities and plans to upgrade its passenger rail system, would reap major benefits. A similar study on transit bus manufacturing released by Duke researchers in 2009 identified 11 transit bus-manufacturing facilities in Ohio. These companies also would benefit from increased public transit investments in a new transportation bill.

The report, U.S. Manufacture of Rail Vehicles for Intercity Passenger Rail and Urban Transit: A Value Chain Analysis, looks at the manufacture of U.S. rail vehicles in six categories: intercity passenger, high speed, regional, metro, light rail and streetcars. It finds that the U.S. rail supply chain includes at least 247 manufacturing locations in 35 states. The states with the most manufacturing facilities are New York (32 rail manufacturing facilities), Pennsylvania (26), Illinois (23), California (22) and Ohio (13).

"Our nation needs a new transportation policy that invests in expanded public transit and more energy-efficient transportation, including rail. Done right, these investments could mean a windfall of manufacturing jobs for Ohioans," says Phil Angelides, chairman of the Apollo Alliance.

Another study released by Transportation for America and the Economic Policy Institute finds that a $500 billion transportation bill that invests heavily in public transit would create 7.2 million jobs across the economy, including 761,321 manufacturing jobs, of which 168,024 jobs would be located in the rail manufacturing sector.

The report's authors conclude that to grow, the U.S. rail manufacturing industry will require committing much larger and more consistent U.S. investments to intercity passenger and urban transit rail. The report also recommends that Buy America provisions be improved through additional accountability mechanisms and the closing of loopholes. Finally, it recommends that policymakers and manufacturers implement measures to capture higher-value activities in the supply chain, such as design and engineering, for the U.S. market. Currently those activities are mostly performed abroad.

The full report is available on the Duke University website.

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