Business / Companies

CRRC builds US railcar plant

By Hezi Jiang in Springfield, Massachusetts (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-05 08:39

CRRC builds US railcar plant

People visit the exhibition stand of CRRC Corp, a new conglomerate formed by the merger of China's top two high-speed rail makers, China North Railway (CNR) and China South Railway (CSR), at the UrTran 2015 International Urban Rail Exhibition in Beijing, capital of China, June 16, 2015.[Photo/Xinhua]

A subsidiary of the world's largest railcar maker in China - the China Railway Rolling Stock Corp Ltd - just broke ground on a $95 million manufacturing facility in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States.

"There are many firsts here in Massachusetts," said Yu Weiping, vice-president of CRRC, at the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday. "One is being home to the US' first subway, and now this is a first for us in the US."

Yu was joined by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Liu Yi, commercial counselor from the Chinese Consulate General in New York.

"The Springfield train factory is the first-ever Chinese investment in the high-end railway transportation equipment industry in the US," said Liu. "After years of development, the Chinese railway equipment industry has become highly competitive internationally."

CRRC has been awarded a contract from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to design and manufacture 284 new Orange and Red lines' subway cars for Boston's transit system.

The 220,000-square-foot assembly facility will begin construction in 2016 with completion scheduled for the fall in 2017, with the first cars expected to be delivered in 2018.

Many of the railcars on the Red and Orange lines are "old, slow, dirty, squeaky, and the paint is peeling off their rusty bodies", said Jin Xi, 22, a recent graduate of Boston University. "The Boston subway system is nice, but the cars are aging. In Beijing subways, the lighting is very bright, and the plastic chairs are shinny."

During the brutal snow storms of last winter, Governor Baker said he was told by Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack that a lot of the Red Line trains were the same cars that were running during the blizzard of 1978.

"The same cars," Baker repeated. "That was a really long time ago, folks." The Red Line cars are on average 44 years old, and many Orange Line cars have been riding the rails for 32 years.

"Upgrading the aging Orange and Red lines' fleets is a huge part of the progress we need to make to give our people here in the Commonwealth the 21st century transit system they deserve," said Baker.

That need is welcomed by the CRRC. "We look forward to the success of this signature project, and working together with our partners to showcase the MBTA as a transit system boasting the best subway cars in the US - built in the US," said Yu.

The new facility will not only benefit Boston subway riders, it will also be an engine to help drive Springfield's economy. All production vehicles will be assembled and tested at the facility in Springfield, which will employ about 150 local Americans in manufacturing, engineering and administrative roles.

CRRC is expected to work with local companies in response to Premier Li Keqiang's recent call for cooperation on production capacity.

"CRRC has rich experience in manufacturing, and Massachusetts has advantages in research and innovation," said Liu.

"We hope CRRC can work closely with research institutes and technology companies in Massachusetts."

The Boston railcar project is only the start. CRRC is expected to expand its business across the US.

"In addition to this project, we can further improve the transportation infrastructure here in the US," said Yu.

"CRRC is a world leader in rail manufacturing, with successful projects in more than 100 countries or regions including Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and we are ready to invest in a country with so much potential to have the best subways and high speed rails in the world."

Yu said CRRC was in talks with the New York City MTA on potential cooperation. "Today, Mayor Sarno is hosting this event for our subway cars project. I hope next time, Governor Baker will be hosting a ceremony for the construction of cross-state high-speed trains," Yu said.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks