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CRRC Sifang wins big in Chicago

Chinese-built cars for Chicago could replace half the existing fleet — CTA

Transit Authority awards largest-ever contract for Subway cars to Chinese rolling stock giant.

Chicago Transit Authority has awarded its largest ever contract for new subway rapid transit cars to Chinese builder CRRC Sifang America JV. The decision was approved on
9 March.

The immediate USD632m order is for 400 cars, but if all the options are taken up the price could reach USD1.4bn for 846 cars. CRRC Sifang bid USD226m less than rival bidder Bombardier, and offered to build a USD40m final assembly plant for the new AC propulsion cars on the city’s Far South side, employing 169 people.

A 7000-series prototype train is due for delivery in October 2019, and the first 400 vehicles should be in service by 2024.

The new trains are intended to replace the 2600-series cars, the last rolling stock built by Budd Company, in 1981-87, and start replacement of the 3200-series, built by Morrison-Knudsen from 1992. The 7000-series will have stainless steel bodies (like the predecessor 5000-series), and LED lighting and signage. The CTA says delivery of the new trains will reduce the average age of the fleet to 13 years, half what it was in 2011. Use of the new cars is projected to reduce maintenance and power costs by around USD7m per year.

Funding for the CTA order will come from a bond issue, with some federal assistance.

“With this agreement, CTA riders will get state-of-the-art rail cars and Chicago returns to our roots as the place where the next generation of rail cars are built, providing good jobs for our residents. That is a classic win-win for Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“This historic agreement was the result of strong collaboration between the City, our federal partners, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and Jobs to Move America, and I cannot thank them enough for their partnership in making it possible. We will continue to bring more 21st century manufacturing jobs to Chicago to help power our 21st century economy.”

CRRC Sifang was the first Chinese rolling stock manufacturer to break into the American market, with a 2014 order for 284 rapid transit cars from Boston’s MBTA, which are still to be delivered.