Simonelli hopes the new Evolution model could mark the beginning of something else — the return of GE Transportation to the passenger train business.
GE, which built more than 300 Genesis model passenger locomotives during the 1990s, wants to be a player in that industry, Simonelli said.
“GE has the know-how and the manufacturing base to develop the next generation of high-speed passenger locomotives,” he said. “We are ready to partner with the federal government and Amtrak to make high-speed rail a reality.”
Although Monday marked the official unveiling of the new locomotive, 25 of them already have been delivered to Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which is helping GE Transportation continue long-term testing.
This is a smart move from GE's perspective, as the collapse of the US auto industry has politicians in both parties looking for a new manufacturing base. Anything GE can put together on HSR in particular would get a LOT of favorable attention from the Congress.
That being said, the last thing we'd want is a political decision about HSR power and rolling stock. The trainsets we use have to be of a high quality, and there are a lot of excellent off-the-shelf technologies out there. If we can get Siemens or Alstom to commit to building a final assembly plant in CA, then it would go a long way in leveraging GE to make similar commitments.