Rail car manufacturers across the country will have an opportunity to submit bids to produce the first American-made, standardized passenger rail cars, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.

The $551 million Request for Proposals (RFP) to manufacture approximately 130 new bi-level passenger rail cars in America comes from a groundbreaking multi-state effort to jointly purchase standardized rail equipment to be used on Amtrak’s intercity routes in California, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, and potentially Iowa.

The funding is being provided by the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program.

“President Obama has called on us to invest in transportation systems that are built to last,” said Secretary LaHood.

“This important opportunity represents a win-win scenario for both workers and the traveling public by helping to create manufacturing jobs and support passenger rail.”

Selection of the manufacturer will occur in the Fall of 2012. The cars will be delivered starting in 2015.

The DOT says the Buy America provision of the RFP requires that all components of the new bi-level cars are built by American workers: with American hands, and with American-produced steel, iron and manufactured goods.

The federal government’s investment in passenger rail means ‘more jobs for American workers and domestic companies’.

The new uniform standards ‘will drive down lifecycle costs and allow more manufacturers and suppliers to compete, fostering a healthy competition while helping re-establish the U.S. domestic supply chain for passenger rail equipment and meet Buy America goals’.

The common design also ‘makes it easier to train personnel, stock parts, and perform maintenance and repairs, which also reduces costs and increases equipment reliability’.