For IDOT, New Siemens Ventures

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has begun taking delivery on 88 new Siemens “Venture” single-level passenger cars. According to WSP USA Senior Engineering Manager Art Peterson, who supplied these photos to Railway Age, the first four arrived in Chicago in mid-August, and four more are en route.

The Siemens/IDOT contract dates to November 2017, when Caltrans and IDOT amended a $317 million contract for new passenger cars, replacing Nippon Sharyo with Siemens, which partnered with Sumitomo Corp. of America to fulfill a delayed multi-state order. The revised contract involved 137 single-level passenger railcars—49 for Caltrans and 88 for IDOT. Under the original terms of the deal, Sumitomo had subcontracted construction of bi-level cars to Nippon Sharyo of Japan. The revised pact substituted Siemens as a subcontractor, changed specifications to single-level cars, and accelerated delivery from five years to 24-34 months.

The IDOT contract with Nippon Sharyo dated to 2012, and was financed by $551 million in federal funds. But the order was jeopardized in 2015 when a prototype car failed to pass a mandatory crash safety test. In August 2017, IDOT announced that Siemens would replace Nippon Sharyo as subcontractor, and that it was changing specifications from bi-level to single-level cars. Nippon Sharyo was building the cars in Rochelle, Ill.

The U.S. operations of Sumitomo are a unit of Japan’s Sumitomo Group.

The Venture cars are being built at Siemens’ manufacturing hub in Sacramento. Siemens is also building SC-44 Charger passenger locomotive in Sacramento as part of a similar multi-state order that includes Illinois, as well as similar ALC-42 Chargers for Amtrak long-distance services.

The new cars will be used on Midwest Coalition service trains represented by IDOT; and on Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor trains in California.

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