Rail

Chicago taps manufacturer for next generation railcars

Posted on March 10, 2016

A conceptual rendering courtesy CTA.
A conceptual rendering courtesy CTA.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Board awarded a contract for the newest generation of CTA railcars — the 7000-series — continuing the unprecedented modernization of the CTA under Mayor Rahm Emanuel while fostering economic development and job creation in Chicago.

The new 7000-series railcars — the largest railcar order in CTA history — will be built by CSR Sifang America JV, which as part of its winning bid has pledged to build a brand-new rail car assembly facility in Chicago — the first of its kind in 35 years. The facility is expected to generate 170 jobs and represents an investment of $40 million.

“Providing modern trains and buses is a critical part of having a world-class transit system,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “This railcar purchase — the largest in CTA history — will give CTA one of the newest fleets in the United States and provide our customers with state-of-the-art trains providing comfortable, reliable rides.”

In July 2014, Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Federation of Labor announced a partnership to encourage the creation of U.S. manufacturing jobs, by working with CTA to include a “U.S. Employment” provision in the bids for the new 7000-series cars. The bid solicitation asked bidders to provide the number and type of new jobs they planned to create related to the production of the new railcars, as well as an outline of their job recruitment and workforce training plans.

CSR submitted the lowest bid of $1.309 billion for 846 railcars. CTA will purchase a base order of 400 cars first, with options to purchase the remainder in coming years.

A conceptual rendering of the interior of the CTA's future railcars.
A conceptual rendering of the interior of the CTA's future railcars.

Prototype models are expected to be complete in 2019; following testing, the cars will go into service in 2020. The cars will be assembled in a new facility CSR plans to build in Chicago.

CSR is one of the world’s largest railcar manufacturers, and since 1962 has built more than 30,000 railcars for more than 20 countries in Asia, South America and the Middle East. In the U.S., CSR is building railcars for Boston’s transit system.

The new railscars will feature of mix of forward-facing and aisle-facing seats, a seating configuration designed to ensure customer comfort while maximizing passenger flow and capacity. The design was based on studies CTA conducted to solicit feedback from CTA riders on preferences related to seating and design — the first time the CTA has sought rider input on seating layout. 

The cars’ design will resemble the 5000-series, the CTA’s newest railcars, with stainless steel bodies, LED lighting and signage, and AC power propulsion for a smoother, quieter ride. The cars will replace the oldest cars on the CTA system, some of which are more than 30 years old.

Once delivery of the new railcars is complete, the CTA will have its youngest rail fleet in decades — reducing the average age of CTA rail cars from 26 years in 2011 to 13 years when the 7000-series are delivered. The new railcars are projected to save the CTA about $7M annually in reduced maintenance costs and reduced use of power.

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