Monday, August 29, 2016

Massachusetts railcar manufacturing return: Next stop, China

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As Massachusetts officials celebrated the "topping off" ceremony of a $95 million new railcar manufacturing plant in Springfield, Mass., last week, the factory's owner—China's CCRC—explained hiring plans: production workers will be hired in October, and sent to China for advance training by February.

Once completed, the factory will manufacture 284 subway cars for the MBTA: 132 for the Red Line, and 152 for the Orange Line.

In 2014, CRRC received a $566 million contract to manufacture 284 subway cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The 204,000-square-foot factory will employ 150 workers in Springfield, Mass. The first cars are scheduled to be delivered in 2018.

"Topping Off" is the term used by ironworkers to indicate that the final piece of steel is being hoisted into place on a building, bridge or other large structure, and in this case the factory has now reached its maximum height. Construction of the factory is running ahead of schedule, with other projects including a 2,240-foot dynamic test track, and staging/storage area to be built. The project is projected to be completed in the fall of 2017.

"Replacing cars nearly four decades old will help deliver a more reliable and comfortable rider experience," said Governor Charlie Baker. "We remain focused on investing in the core infrastructure at the T to improve our transit system that so many people rely on and we are pleased to celebrate this that also creates local jobs and supports Springfield's economy."

"This facility will have multiple benefits to all sectors of Massachusetts' economy, from new manufacturing jobs in Springfield to service improvements for the riders who rely on the MBTA to get to and from where they need to be every day," said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito

"The T has needed these cars for decades now," MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said of the MBTA's aging fleet of Orange Line and Red Line vehicles. "Relying on old equipment makes it harder to bounce back from incidents of severe weather."

"It is a great pleasure to be here today for the opening of this state-of-the-art factory, which will be assembling state-of-the-art vehicles for the MBTA's Red Line and Orange Line," said MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. "Replacing old rail cars is part of a comprehensive plan to improve the Red and Orange Lines that include improvements to aging tracks, signals, and other infrastructure, with the goal of providing a first-class transit system that meets the needs of our customers."

"We are very appreciative of the largest railway car manufacturing company in the world, CRRC, building their North American base right here in Springfield," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. "The creation of hundreds of good paying jobs, the spin-off benefits to our vendors, the linkage to our students at Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, Western New England University and the use of our labor unions' workforce spreads the wealth. Also, I'm very thankful to Governor Baker, state and city officials for their continued belief and investment in our Springfield."


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