* Siemens to build 200 light-rail cars in US over 3 years
* Midwest likely high-speed winner given political weight
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec 23 (Reuters) - The U.S.-based transport arm of Siemens AG SIEGn.DE has ramped up production to feed growing demand for urban light-rail systems and also has its eyes on a nascent U.S. push for high-speed rail.
Siemens Mobility, created to combine the German company’s rail, logistics and signaling divisions, is the light-rail leader with over a third of the U.S. market, according to Robin Stimson, vice president for strategic business development.
He said its plant just outside Sacramento, California, which produced about 25 light-rail cars annually five years ago, made 58 this year and is set to build about 200 more over the next three years -- with capacity for more.
Also competing for U.S. light-rail business are Ansaldo Breda, a unit of Italian group Finmeccanica SIFI.MI, Skoda of the Czech Republic, Canada's Bombardier BBDb.TO, Spain's CAF CAF.MC and Japan's Kinki Sharyo 7122.T.
A major obstacle to light-rail growth, however, was a lack of coordination between municipal and state authorities when tackling transport problems, Stimson said, and he hoped Siemens could foster cooperation with the united Mobility division.
“We’d like to bring these folks to the table,” he said in an interview at the rail plant late on Tuesday.
The facility is producing cars for Norfolk, Virginia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; and Edmonton, Alberta.
California lawmakers at the Capitol building nearby, following voter approval of a nearly $10 billion high-speed rail bond offering last year, are now trying to tap federal funds dedicated to development of fast trains around the United States.
Stimson said Siemens had bought property just north of its plant, where joists had been built during the now-collapsed California home-building boom, and referred to it as the “high-speed lot.”
While California faces some obstacles in securing right of way for its trains, Stimson was encouraged by recent moves in Florida to help attract federal high-speed funds. [ID:nB712705]
Ahead of an initial disbursement of money by the Federal Railroad Administration next month, Stimson said he believed the Midwest corridor branching out to cities from a Chicago hub would likely be a big contender for money given that the president and transport secretary were both from Illinois.
Reporting by Braden Reddall; Editing by Richard Chang
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.