North American High-Speed Train Opportunities

Bombardier Sifang, the Chinese joint venture of the big Canadian maker of high speed trains and commercial aircraft, reportedly will supply 80 of its Zefiro very high speed trains to China's Ministry of Railways. The trains will have a top speed of 380 kilometers per hour, and their development and sale positions Bombardier to challenge the world market leaders in high speed train technology, Alstom and Siemens. Alstom has marketed its famous TGV in Korea and Spain, while Siemens has sold versions of its Velaro--based on the ICE3 super-express trains used in Germany--in China and Spain.

In December, the Siemens Sapsan ("peregrine") will start service on the Moscow-St. Petersburg line in Russia. A similar Siemens train is a candidate for a high-speed corridor that could link San Francisco and Los Angeles. That would be a first for true high speed train technology in the United States, as the Acela train used in the Northeast corridor--a derivative of the TVG--has not performed at full capacity because of trackbed problems. Both Siemens and Alstom have been positioning themselves--and no doubt Bombardier is now getting into line as well--to compete for work on 11 proposed high-speed corridors in the United States.

The U.S. stimulus bill provides $13 billion in funding to develop high-speed train programs over five years.

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