PLANS TO develop inter-city rail corridors in the USA will only succeed if steps are taken to buy new rolling stock, warned Amtrak President & CEO Alexander Kummant when he appeared before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee in Congress on June 12.

He said the railway had enough equipment for its current operations, although some of this dates from the 1950s and needs replacement, but claimed that it would be a 'challenge to obtain the necessary equipment to fully exploit our inter-city corridor development opportunities'.

Kummant wants to focus on corridor routes of up to 800 km and partner with those states which are willing to invest in rail. However, he has already indicated that he does not intend to withdraw the allegedly loss-making long-distance trains.

Kummant blamed the lack of domestic suppliers for hindering the purchase of new rolling stock, adding that there is a three to five year wait for deliveries from overseas manufacturers who have 'pretty good order books.' However he hopes to begin talks with potential suppliers within the next year.

Although the electrified Northeast Corridor 'is in the best condition it has been in decades', Kummant said Amtrak is looking to the states for help to finance badly-needed upgrades, especially to bridges and tunnels. Asked if the NEC could match the performance of European high speed lines, Kummant and Amtrak Chairman David Laney said this would be impossible without extensive track and catenary upgrades and sections of exclusive right-of-way.

H On June 8 Amtrak announced an agreement with Washington state, British Columbia and BNSF for a US$7 m infra-structure upgrade to permit the introduction a second daily passenger train between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.