Struggling to comply with made-in-USA requirements, a Japanese company that was hired to make passenger rail cars for Amtrak lines has fallen years behind schedule, and it is likely that the cars won’t be completed before federal funding for the project expires.
Seventy-five percent of the rail cars were funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and were intended to upgrade lines in California, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri. That stimulus money, in order to help struggling American manufacturing during the recession, was required to be built in the United States with domestically sourced components. Should the deadline be missed, in 2017, whatever is left of the $352 million contract left unspent would be sent back to the federal government, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The likelihood that the deadline will be missed has some saying that the U.S.-made requirements made it too difficult to keep on schedule.
“The intent is good, but 100% buy-American has been more of a challenge than we anticipated,” Bruce Roberts, rail and mass transportation chief for the California Department of Transportation, the department overseeing the project, told the Wall Street Journal.
The missed deadline for the cars, which were supposed to focus on crashworthiness, comes after a string of crashes on Amtrak lines in the country. One of the most notable of which was the 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, which killed eight and sent 200 to the hospital after a train sped up just before a curve.
States could now be forced to look for alternative funding to upgrade their aging rail systems, which were built in the 1970s and 1980s. The missed deadlines could also leave the company contracted for the cars open to lawsuits that could yield millions of dollars in damage fees to pay for those alternative sources.