Mayor Rahm Emanuel 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 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. The 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.
CTA awarded the manufacturing contract to build up to 846 new 7000-series railcars to CRRC’s U.S. subsidiary, CRRC Sifang America, in March 2016. The first order of 400 railcars 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 railcars are put into service, CTA will have one of the youngest fleets of any U.S. transit agency.
The 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.
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, Jobs to Move America, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, and City Colleges of Chicago.
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 railcar prototypes are expected to be completed in 2019.