New York Air Brake Co. will be ready for new business if the state's proposed high-speed commuter railroad lines become a reality.
The Watertown railroad brake manufacturer has two products used in passenger rail cars, said Marc B. Robbins, locomotive sales engineer.
"It really is a little different than what we're used to working with in freight," he said.
The biggest difference is stricter safety requirements.
One such product is a brake that has a passenger version, CCB II-P.
"It's one of our most reliable brakes for freight," Mr. Robbins said.
The other, EP-60, connects cars in a train through an electric line to turn on the brakes all at once. The other option is a pneumatic line that sends air down the train to begin stopping.
"It's much faster than a pneumatic line," Mr. Robbins said. "As you increase the speed of the train, you want to make sure you can slow it down that much faster."
To begin producing more of the parts destined for passenger cars, the engineering group at the plant, 748 Starbuck Ave., will be busy.
"There's certainly a lot more software and engineering work that would have to go into it," he said. "For manufacturing, it's just a change in the software."
Mr. Robbins was a participant in a state summit on rail transportation in Albany last week. The state Empire State Development Corp. and Department of Transportation organized the event, which drew more than 200 public and private stakeholders, according to a news release.
The summit focused on winning more high-speed and intercity passenger rail funding, learning how state agencies will help rail-related businesses compete for these funds and promoting the high-speed rail movement.
"Certainly, the two big hotbeds right now are New York and California," Mr. Robbins said. "The whole point is to utilize assets in New York. We want to use New York products, so more of the money stays here."
The state already has received $151 million in grants from the Federal Rail Administration as part of the $8 billion in stimulus funding earmarked for high-speed rail.
State officials have said a high-speed passenger line from Albany to Buffalo can be built for $3 billion to $5 billion in three to five years, according to the Post-Standard, Syracuse.
The state plans more meetings beginning in November. Mr. Robbins said Air Brake representatives will continue to attend.
"We want to make sure New York Air Brake is in a position to capitalize from the stimulus funding," he said.