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Announcing New Factory To Build CTA Railcars

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The new manufacturing plant is announced Mar. 16. 2017, at 13535 S. Torrence Ave. It will create more than 300 skilled factory and new construction jobs, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office statement.  The project will return CTA rail car manufacturing to Chicago after a 50-year absence, according to the city. CRRC Sifang's American subsidiary, CRRC Sifang North America, won the $1.3 billion contract last year to build the new 7000 Series over 10 years.  CRRC Sifang will invest $100 million in building a 380,944-square-foot manufacturing facility on 45 acres in Chicago's Hegewisch neighborhood on the Southeast Side. The site is mostly vacant, used for staging automobiles for loading onto railroad auto racks and highway trucks.

Once complete, the first order of 400 new, 7000-series rail cars will mark the first time in more than 50 years that CTA cars have been built in the city, officials said. The new cars will replace the oldest ones currently running, 2600 series Budd/Transit America, which date back to the 1980s.

Pullman-Standard built the 2000 series "new look" railcars in the 1960s in a factory near 111th Street and S. Cottage Grove and those railcars help open the outer realignment of the Lake Street "L". The famous Pullman Car & Manufacturing Company won with an offer of 180 cars (90 married units). High speed operation and new trucks were required, as were fluorescent lights and picture windows. The railcars were the first CTA cars with air conditioning. Because these cars were to have additional features, the decision was made to place these cars in a new family (the High Performance Family) and not require them to trainline with any of the existing cars. 

Photos:  City image of factory, Special paint scheme Pullman railcar, author's photo.

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The site map was in the Tribune article. The site adjoins the city limits at E. 138th St. A different view was included for the proposed factory too.    

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This story appeared in "TrainWire", produced by TRAINS, explaining the groundbreaking that happened on south Torrence Ave. on 03/16/2017.

CHICAGO — The world’s largest rail equipment manufacturer is marking its latest entry into the U.S. market with a ground-breaking ceremony earlier today for a new plant in southeast Chicago.

The plant, in the city’s Hegewisch neighborhood, will be used by CRRC Sifang America to build new cars for the Chicago Transit Authority’s L system. CRRC — the Chinese Railway Rolling Stock Corp. — won a contract in March 2016 to build up to 846 new 7000-series cars, at a cost of up to $1.3 billion. The initial order is for 400 cars with options for the rest. Completion of the full order will take 10 years after the plant begins production in late 2018. The first prototype is expected to be complete in 2019.

“Four years from now,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Chicagoans like myself will be commuting in a railcar made in Chicago by Chicagoans. That’s what we’re talking about for the future of the city of Chicago.”

The new plant will become the first in Chicago to build rail cars since the closure of the nearby Pullman plant in 1981, and the first in Chicago to build equipment for the CTA in more than 50 years, said CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. 

“To put that in context,” Carter said, “that was when Lyndon Johnson was president, and the Beatles had their first No. 1 record in America. But that’s about to change.”

Speakers included Emanuel, U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and CRRC Vice President Sun Yongcai, who praised the partnership of the city and local unions that made the plant possible. Yongcai says CRRC is committed to hiring and training local residents for 169 jobs. Those jobs, said Chicago 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski-Garza, represent “a ray of hope for everybody that lives in this neck of the woods.”

CRRC already builds equipment for use in more than 20 countries, but the Chicago project will help the company “expand its influence here in the United States,” said Hong Lei, Consul General for the People’s Republic of China in the U.S., “and make its brand be better known to our American friends.”

While the CTA contract is the impetus for the plant’s construction, the company plans to pursue contracts throughout the U.S. that would also be built in Chicago. 

“I was joking with Sun Yongcai just a minute ago,” Emanuel said. “I said tell me what cities you’re going to go [to]; I’ll make calls to those mayors, and if I’m successful, I get a one percent commission.”

This is the second major transit contract for CRRC in the U.S. Another affiliate, CRRC MA, is building a plant in Springfield, Mass., to fill a $566-million order of 284 subway cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

 Photo by Resolute Consulting.

DH 

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What are some of the designs that an allied China manufacturing company, CRRC,MA, that is building railcars for Boston's Orange line.  Here are some photos from Boston Magazine. Boston has three heavy rail rapid transit routes....Red line, Orange line, and Blue line. The three routes are wholly separate and each line has individual fleets of railcars. There is a history of including color for the three fleets.

DH 

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CRRC,MA has picked up a third rapid transit contract, this time Los Angeles subway system, a 64 car order for subway cars. The cars are to be built in their Springfield, MA plant. Prototypes are expected in 2020 and the base cars in 2021.

DH 

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