CHICAGO, IL (STL.News) – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel yesterday joined Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval R. Carter, Jr., CRRC Sifang America and the Chicago Federation of Labor to recognize the hiring of the initial group of employees at the $100 million railcar manufacturing facility that will assemble the CTA’s newest railcars, the 7000-series, set to become fully operational later this year. The hiring marks the start of employee training, with more than 70 workers hired to date. The first group of production workers will travel to China next week for highly specialized training in assembling the new railcars.
“The creation of this state-of-the-art railcar facility is not only an investment in the CTA, but a vote of confidence in Chicago’s economy and our workforce,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Our goal of having a world-class transportation system is one step closer with this critical investment on the far Southeast side.”
The new facility, which is located on 45 acres on the Far Southeast Side of Chicago, will create approximately 170 manufacturing, warehouse and professional jobs at the CRRC. This critical investment brings railcar manufacturing back to Chicago after a 50-year absence and continues to grow the Far Southeast Side’s booming manufacturing sector. Additionally, the facility created over 200 jobs during construction.
“We are excited to have hired the initial group of union production workers who will assemble the next generation of railcars for the Chicago Transit Authority,” CRRC Sifang America’s President Chengyong Liu said. “As we complete the new Chicago facility, our newly hired workers will be training in preparation to build the first 10 prototypes of the new 7000 Series railcars to be delivered later this year.”
“The CRRC facility not only brings jobs to Chicago’s South Side, but demonstrates the success of our global strategy to bring more international investment in Chicago,” Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of World Business Chicago said. “Our dedicated efforts to increase Chinese investment have led to this facility.”
CTA awarded the manufacturing contract to build up to 846 new 7000-series rail cars to CRRC’s U.S. subsidiary, CRRC Sifang America, in March 2016. The first order of 400 rail cars will be assembled at the new facility and are slated to replace CTA’s oldest railcars, which are more than 30 years old. Once these new rail cars are put into service, CTA will have one of the youngest fleets of any U.S. transit agency.
These new railcars will be the first CTA vehicles produced in Chicago since 1964, and include AC-power propulsion for smooth, quiet rides; additional security cameras both inside and outside the vehicle; and GPS-triggered announcements and automatic passenger counting for improved service planning.
“This new facility reinforces our ongoing commitment toward ensuring our transit customers have a reliable and comfortable experience on our vehicles,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said. “Once completed, these 7000-series rail cars will provide transit users with a more modern, more convenient and overall enhanced commuting experience.”
CRRC Sifang America continues to work with various unions such as the Chicago Federation of Labor, IBEW and SMART, to ensure strong union representations from within a number of nearby communities. Additionally, the company has partnered with a number of Chicago community organizations such as Calumet Area Industrial Commission (CAIC), Jobs to Move America (JMA), Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and City Colleges of Chicago.
“The hiring at this facility represents an opportunity for well-paying jobs in the local community.” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. “I will continue to work to ensure that the Chicago Transit Authority has the federal funding it needs to modernize our public transportation system.”
“I’m excited to see this important economic development project reach this milestone. In addition to creating jobs and economic opportunities in our community, this project means that the next generation of CTA rail cars will be built right here in Chicagoland, by Chicagoland workers.” said Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly.
“Working together with Mayor Emanuel, we have made tremendous strides in bringing new investments to the 10th ward,” Alderman Sadlowski Garza said. “This is a major project that will create good jobs in our community and demonstrates the progress we are making to strengthen the ward and drive economic growth.”
The new facility will assemble the CTA’s base order of 400 railcars for a total of $632 million or $1.58 million per car, with future options for an additional 446 railcars. These 7000-series vehicles are the first railcars purchased by CTA in more than a decade since 2006. The first rail car prototypes are expected to be completed in 2019.
Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, since 2011 the CTA has completed, begun or announced more than $8 billion in projects to modernize and upgrade the bus and rail system.