Norton Seeks to Prohibit Metro from Buying Chinese-Made Railcars

Metro 7000 series carsPhoto credit: WMATA

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, has filed an amendment to the fiscal year 2020 transportation appropriations bill that would prohibit the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) from purchasing Chinese-made railcars.

Serious cybersecurity concerns have been raised regarding Chinese-owned companies manufacturing railcars for the nation’s capital, she said  Norton and other National Capital Region Members had written to the Appropriations Committee requesting the inclusion of this prohibition in the bas bill.  That amendment would make federal grants to Metro contingent upon its certification that it will not award any contract or subcontract for railcars to foreign state-owned companies.  The Rules Committee will consider the amendment this week.

“The security of public transit in the nation’s capital must be a top priority,” Norton said.  “China is not making these railcars so cheaply out of the goodness of its heart.  Until we have irrefutable evidence, we must not turn a blind eye to the clear incentive China has to monitor our capital and undermine our security.”

In their recent letter, Members wrote, “Critical infrastructure systems around the country have been increasingly targeted in recent years as part of coordinated hacking attempts and other forms of interference, often carried out by, or at the direction of, foreign governments.  In the transportation sector, there has been increased interest from some of these same foreign governments, acting through state-owned intermediaries, to participate in state and local procurements, including those to manufacture and assemble railcars for transit agencies around the country.  While other jurisdictions have welcomed this investment, as Metro moves forward with its procurement process for the 8000-series railcar, we have serious concerns about similar activity in the National Capital Region, particularly when it could involve foreign governments that have sought to undermine our country’s economic competitiveness and national security.”

The full letter can be read here.