Monday, January 30, 2012

Now let's see. What can we learn from this about High-Speed Rail?

BART is having its rolling stock manufactured overseas.  Those of us who are high-speed rail watchers, are not surprised.

Never mind BART's problem here. It will be peanuts compared to high-speed rail.  We have zero HSR manufacturing capacity here in this country.  Attention Washington and Sacramento: we make airplanes and automobiles. Also freight trains.  We don't make high-speed passenger rail.

Oh, wait. Isn't Siemens building a HSR assembly plant in Sacramento? I wonder what that's for.  Do they already have a contract we don't know about? 

As it is, among the major contractors for the CHSRA, Parsons Brinckerhoff is already shipping its profits to the UK, where it is home-based. Where do you suppose US dollars will go if Siemens gets the contract?  What we are watching is US tax dollars being sent overseas, and we'll be seeing a great deal more of that, unless it's stopped.

The issue becomes even more outrageous when we realize that our ARRA Stimulus funds are heading overseas.  Weren't these intended to benefit unemployed American workers?  Whatever happened to that critical criterion, "Shovel Ready" so that American workers will be immediately put to work? Isn't there a federal regulation about  "Buying American?"

Everyone knows that we in California have been high-speed rail "shopping" for years in both Europe and Asia.  Our hard-working CHSRA Board has had many opportunities to relax on foreign corporate paid junkets to many countries in the high-speed rail construction and manufacturing business to ride their trains, schmooz, be wined and dined and be offered the deal of a lifetime. 

(We've never discussed the "perks" available to the Board members of the CHSRA.)

This is just one more log on the fire that should burn this California high-speed rail project to the ground.

When you get a chance, ask our Governor about how he will block any US dollars from going overseas to build his high-speed rail project.

CA: Building BART Railcars Overseas Adds Insult to Cost
BART is buying a sleek new fleet of 775 cars - with the first 200 costing about $5.1 million a piece when all is said and done.
Created: January 30, 2012
BART is buying a sleek new fleet of 775 cars - with the first 200 costing about $5.1 million a piece when all is said and done.

The sky-high price for what amounts to a 70-foot-long railway car is sending some folks into sticker shock - especially because the cars are coming from outside the country.

"Taxpayers from the San Francisco Bay Area are paying for these railcars, and they should be built in the Bay Area," said Scott Haggerty, an Alameda County supervisor and member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The base price for each car is about $3.7 million - but that doesn't count the $850,000 apiece that BART will spend on a list of extras that includes sending inspectors to oversee the manufacturing and assembly of the cars.

"That's a waste of taxpayer money," Haggerty said.

But BART officials insist their hands are tied.

None of the five companies that bid for the job is located in the United States.

And although bidders are required to use at least 60 percent U.S. materials and parts, federal law prohibits BART from specifying where in the country the final assembly work will be done. So it can't demand that the cars be put together in the Bay Area, or even in California.

That means BART staffers will first be traveling to Canada, France or South Korea to oversee the work, then possibly to the East Coast, where each of the three finalists has an assembly plant.

"It's a big number," Paul Oversier, the transit agency's assistant general manager for operations, said of the BART buy. "But when you consider the magnitude of the contract - the years of engineering that goes into it, the testing, the safety certification - all these things are important to ensuring we get a car that is reliable when it goes into service."

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