Global Competitiveness in the Rail and Transit Industry

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Global Competitiveness in the Rail and Transit Industry 1.04MB

Authors: Michael Renner and Gary Gardner
34 pages


This report draws on lessons from Germany, Spain, Japan, and China, the four dominant international rail manufacturing countries, to conclude that greater investment in U.S. rail manufacturing could revive America’s former leadership in the world rail industry–-and potentially create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Case studies of the leading countries in intercity rail and urban transit illuminate a set of common principles those countries have used to nurture and grow some of the largest, most successful railroad manufacturing companies in the world. Among them are:
  • A sustained, long-term national investment in rail and transit far and above the one-time injection of $8.3 billion provided by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. China alone is investing as much as $149 billion every year for the next five years.
  • A commitment to protecting and nurturing young rail industries until they have achieved the economies of scale necessary to compete globally. 
  • A national vision that ensures rail development will be linked with other forms of urban transit, use an integrated, uniform system of operations, provide extensive geographic coverage, and be well run. 

About the Report

In 2010, with support from the Rockefeller and Surdna Foundations, the Apollo Alliance partnered with Northeastern University, Worldwatch Institute, and the Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness to conduct research, engage stakeholders, and develop policy recommendations to inform the emergence of a comprehensive strategy to create good American jobs by bolstering the domestic manufacture of advanced rail and transit vehicles systems and component parts. This report is a result of that initiative.

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With the federal transportation bill up for renewal, the United States has an opportunity to invest in public transportation and renew its manufacturing base. This report reveals that the country could gain more than 79,000 jobs in rail and bus manufacturing and related industries under an investment scenario sufficient to double transit ridership in 20 years. If the United States were to invest at even higher levels—similar to those of China—this would yield more than a quarter million jobs.