Chinese Government Moves into Rail Car Manufacturing…in Massachusetts
China’s effort to be a major player in rail car manufacturing has expanded into the U.S., with Massachusetts serving as its American headquarters.
The government-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. (CRRC) has begun building a $60 million factory in Springfield that will produce more than 280 Red and Orange Line cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
The new plant—which will inhabit a 40-acre industrial lot situated in a former Westinghouse manufacturing center—will begin assembling cars next year and see the first ones rolling off its assembly line by 2018. The Springfield factory is expected to employ 150 local workers, and serve as the company’s North American headquarters.
Weiping Yu, a CRRC vice president in charge of overseas operations, said he expects the company’s work in the U.S. to bring improvements to the country’s rail system. “Infrastructure in the U.S. is not great, and is not leading in the world,” he told Boston.com. “When I went to speak at Harvard, I took the train—the subway—and it was noisy, it was not the best experience... Once we deliver the new cars for these two lines, I can guarantee you, commuters can enjoy their music through their headphones.”
Although Yu said their track record in China and plan to keep costs down in the U.S. point to a profitable venture, David Clarke, director of the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee, doesn’t believe CRRC will meet with much success in its new undertaking. “There is a demand in the U.S. for this type of equipment, but not enough of a demand,” he told Boston.com.
The construction follows CRRC landing a $566 million contract with MBTA, the first such deal for the Chinese firm in North America. CRRC won the contract after beating competitive bids from rail companies in Canada, South Korea, Japan and China. It hopes to expand operations in the U.S. after proving itself in Springfield.
CRRC dominates China’s rail car market, controlling 80% of it, and has done work in about 100 other countries.
-Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
The Chinese Company Building New Red and Orange Line Cars Has U.S. Ambitions (by Adam Vaccaro, Boston.com)
Chinese Rail Firm Makes Inroads with U.S. Factory and Boston Transit Deal (by Jad Mouawad, New York Times)
CRRC USA to Break Ground in Massachusetts (by William C. Vantuono, Railway Age)
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