Business / Companies

CRRC offshoot wins $1.3b order for Chicago railcars

By Zhong Nan and Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-11 07:17

CRRC offshoot wins $1.3b order for Chicago railcars

A CRH train production site of CRRC's Qingdao Sifang Co Ltd in Qingdao, Shandong province. CSR Sifang America JV, subsidiary of CRRC which makes both high speed trains and railcars, will supply up to 846 railcars to the Chicago Transit Authority. [Photo/Xinhua]

846 unit order to cut Chicago's maintenance bill by $7m annually

China Railway Rolling Stock Corp subsidiary CSR Sifang America has been awarded a $1.3 billion order to supply up to 846 railcars to the Chicago Transit Authority, the biggest train order in the midwest city's history.

The new cars, the 7000-series, will look similar to those that have been in operation since the 1980s, the 2600-series, and will be locally assembled at a new purpose-built plant.

Brian Steele, a CTA spokesman, said the contract is expected to create around 169 new jobs, including mechanical engineers and electricians.

CSR Sifang America is a joint venture between Qingdao-based CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co Ltd and Chicago-based CSR America.

Another CRRC subsidiary is also currently building railway vehicles in Springfield, Massachusetts, after sealing a deal with the local transport authorities to supply 284 railcars for the Boston transit system.

The last batch of railcars ordered by CTA, the 5000-series, was a decade ago with Canada's Bombardier Inc, which lost out in the bidding this time by around $226 million, said officials.

CTA started the process in 2013, but the bidding gained little interest and a revised tender was relaunched in 2014.

The prototype railcars are scheduled for delivery to the CTA in 2019, and go into service the following year. The base order of more than 400 railcars will arrive by 2024, with options for a further 446 vehicles thereafter.

Steele said the purchase, which will replace about half of its railcars, will give the city one of the youngest rail fleets in the United States, with the average age of a railcar dropping from 26 years in 2011 to 13 years once the order is delivered, as well as saving $7 million a year in maintenance costs.

CRRC Qingdao Sifang said in a statement that the 7000-series railcars will have a different seating arrangement in comparison with the Bombardier ones, which have mostly aisle-facing seats and would provide more standing room during rush hour.

The new vehicles can be run at 112 kilometers per hour and will be equipped with LED lighting, passenger information systems and air conditioners.

Wang Mengshu, a deputy to the National People's Congress and deputy chief engineer of China Railway Tunnel Group Ltd, hailed the new deal as "another major breakthrough for the Chinese railway industry in the North American market".

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