CRRC MA Corp. on Sept. 12 released an infographic “outlining the U.S. supply chain for passenger trains being manufactured for America’s first transit system, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).” The infographic “reveals that all software and electronic components on CRRC MA railcars are Buy America compliant, provided by American suppliers, and installed by an American unionized workforce,” CRRC said in a press release.
The infographic “importantly underscores that none of these critical systems are manufactured by any Chinese company, including CRRC MA or its subsidiaries,” CRRC MA said. “This detailed account of the railcar components provides a much-needed check on the freight rail industry and its special-interest lobbyists in Washington, D.C., as well as CRRC MA competitors who are spreading misinformation and protectionist rhetoric about our products and services.”
CRRC MA has been targeted by some legislators on Capitol Hill and by some within the domestic railway/railway supply industry as having an unfair advantage over competitors because it is a subsidiary of publicly traded CRRC Corp. Ltd., the world’s largest manufacturer of passenger rail rolling stock. CRRC MA has been able to bid substantially lower prices on railcar contracts, particularly those tendered by public transportation agencies.
The parent company of CRRC Corp. Ltd. is CRRC Group, a Chinese State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) that was earlier in its history supervised by China’s state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council. The State Council also owned additional shares via China Securities Finance and Central Huijin Investment. CRRC Corp. Ltd. traces its roots to Chinese government-owned China National Railway Locomotive & Rolling Stock Industry Corporation (LORIC).
The “special-interest lobbyists” to which CRRC MA is referring include the Railway Supply Institute (RSI), which sent a letter to Congress on Sept. 5 urging members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to preserve, in Conference, existing language in H.R.2500/S.1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, that would prevent federal funds from being used to award a contract or subcontract for the procurement of transit vehicles to priority enterprises owned, controlled, or subsidized by SOEs falling under specific definitions.
On the same day it issued the infographic, CRRC MA announced a joint program with a union touted as “the first Registered Apprenticeship Program in the U.S. for railcar manufacturing.”
Funded by a Massachusetts Apprenticeship Initiative Grant awarded to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board is sponsoring a one-year Registered Apprenticeship Program equivalent to 2,000 hours of technical training to apprentices seeking careers in railcar manufacturing at CRRC MA, in addition to 150 hours of related technical instruction provided by Sheet Metal Workers Local 63. The programs purpose is “to expand the range of industries/occupations participating in registered apprenticeship training models, expand and diversify the number of trainees who are certified through apprenticeships and to integrate the apprenticeship model into a career pathway model.”
The Apprenticeship curriculum includes Fundamentals of Shop Safety, Blueprint Reading, Related Mathematics, Assembly/Fabrication – Hand and Power Tools, OSHA – Certification/General Industry, Metal Arc Welding Process, Gas Metal Arc Welding Process and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding Process.
Educational institutions including Springfield Technical Community College, Worcester Polytechnic and Putnam Vocational “support CRRC’s presence and the growth of the corporation’s workforce,” CRRC MA said.