Siemens looks to wow Sacramento with high-speed rail demo

Siemens looks to wow Sacramento with high-speed rail demo :There’s a $1 billion contract up in the air for California’s high-speed rail project — and Siemens is looking to win it.

The German engineering company is exhibiting one of its high-speed train cars in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento, giving people a glimpse of what could be the future of rail transportation in California. The exhibit, which opened Wednesday morning, will run until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Siemens already has a strong presence in the state’s capital. The company’s south Sacramento plant employs 800 people who are working on projects for Caltrans, San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency and Sacramento’s Regional Transit light-rail system. Siemens’ director of high-speed rail development, Armin Kick, says the bid to manufacture California’s high-speed trains could be very good for Sacramentans.

“With high-speed rail there would be significant growth of our business here in Sacramento, and that would add a couple hundred jobs to our plant. It’s a very significant bid, and we’re very interested in it,” he said.

While the high-speed rail project is expected to add 100,000 jobs overall in the next five years, some visitors to the Siemens exhibit questioned whether the job creation is worth high-speed rail’s $68 billion price tag.

“Sure it’s going to be transportation, sure it’s going to be fast — but it’s a lot of money,” one man said.

But state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who co-authored the high-speed rail proposition, says it’s well worth the cost. She views it as necessary for accommodating California’s growing population.

“We have to spend money on transportation infrastructure anyway . So the equivalent of high-speed rail is 12 lanes of highway. And the cost for that has a high price tag as well,” she said.

Putting aside the debate over high-speed rail’s cost, it will be awhile before Siemens’ efforts to impress Sacramentans can be rewarded. The California High Speed Rail Authority says the contract won’t be announced until Jan. 1, 2016.


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