Nebraska Manufacturer in the Running for High Speed Train

high-speed-trainManufacturing is an industry in which the makers are constantly attempting to top themselves– to create something more spectacular, more innovative, and more useful to humanity than anything that currently exists.

Think, for example, about the industry of transportation. Walking, to wooden carts, to horses, to trains, to automobiles to planes, to spaceships: The way we travel has evolved for as long as humans have existed, and we are constantly concerned with how to get places faster. The industry of travel does not exist in a bubble, but affects manufacturers charged with inventing and crafting these ever-evolving modes of transportation.

Most recently, California is taking the United States in the direction of innovation that already exists in many cities across Europe: the high-speed train. Next spring, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will hopefully begin the process of buying rolling stock for the statewide rail system, that will run from Merced to Burbank and eventually from San Francisco to downtown Los Angeles and Anaheim (by 2028). One of the first questions to be answered is who exactly will build these sleek railroad beauties. In late October, nine manufacturers responded to the rail agency’s request for expressions of interest in building trains, as well as providing initial specifications for the vehicles. Along with France’s Alstom, Italy’s AnsaldoBreda, Canada’s Bombardier, and Germany’s Siemens, Japan’s Kawasaki entered the running as one of the companies vying for that incredible contract.

As longtime followers of the blog are aware, Kawasaki Motors is one of the larger manufacturing employers in Lincoln, working to build motorcycles, ATV’s, and more along with–wait for it– railcars and light-rail cars. This means that Kawasaki would already be set up with a plant that builds components for conventional rail systems, and it’s possible that if Kawasaki acquires this contract, that some of this manufacturing work for one of the most innovative rail systems in the country would be potentially partly manufactured in Lincoln, Nebraska.

This is one reason that Kawasaki would certainly be poised to take up the lucrative contract. The initial operating segment for the railroad is said to begin carrying passengers in 2022. In 2028, the entire Phase 1 of the statewide system would be completed, and spending for vehicles would balloon to $3.3 billion. This means that a contract like this would be beneficial for Kawasaki in more ways than one. In Japan, the company is already collaborating with several Japanese firms to build Japan’s Shinkansen fleet (which has happened over the last fifty years). And according to the Fresno Bee, Kawasaki has stated that it plans to pitch its latest bullet train incarnation, the 220-mph efSET (environmentally friendly super efficient transport) for American high speed lines.

We’ll be following the race for the contract closely, so keep an eye on the blog for updates, and keep rooting for Nebraska manufacturer Kawasaki!

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photo credit: Alain Stoll via photopin cc