U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared recently that President Obama’s $8 billion commitment to high-speed rail and expanded intercity passenger service was designed to create U.S. jobs and to boost domestic manufacturing.
“Our goal is to develop a national high-speed rail network, create good jobs here in America and help reinvigorate our manufacturing base,” said Secretary LaHood at a Dec. 4 conference of more than 100 business leaders, union representatives and industry groups. “We know these are tough economic times for many folks and we believe that U.S. rail manufacturers and suppliers will benefit greatly from this new program.”
IAM President Tom Buffenbarger joined LaHood at the conference and concurred with the Secretary’s assessment that if the rail program is not perceived as “creating American jobs, then it’s not going to succeed.”
“If we’re going to really save this industry and commit to high speed rail, what we have to do first is have a workforce, along with a management team that understands the value of each other and then we tackle it as partners,” said Buffenbarger, who spoke on behalf of nearly 10,000 IAM members working under more than 230 rail and rail-related contracts.
A webcast of the DOT conference is available here: http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/dot/091204/default.cfm?id=11846&type=flv&test=0&live=0
The Federal Railroad Administration has received 45 applications from 24 states totalling approximately $50 billion to advance large high-speed rail corridor programs and 214 applications from 34 states totalling $7 billion for corridor planning and smaller projects.