There aren't many countries remaining where Chinese giant CRRC hasn’t secured a major rail contract. Now, China and America have announced their recent collaboration to make the necessary updates to Chicago Transit Authority’s service (CTA). This is the latest victory for the Chinese rail manufacturer which is expanding into the US market. The rail giant's latest successes have been in developing countries, but now China’s CRRC corporation have won a contract to supply up to 846 metro cars, which will be assembled at a purpose-built facility in Chicago. A model car for made its debut earlier this month in Boston. CSR won an offer of $1.31bn, $226m lower than the rival bid from Bombardier, which supplied 714 500 series cars to CTA between 2009 and 2015. The cars are due to be completed in 2019 and will enter passenger service the following year. The initial build will enable the withdrawal of the 2600 series trains currently used on the Orange and Blue lines.
"This is the largest subway car project that a Chinese railway equipment company has received from a developed country to date."
CRRC has been in the US market since 2014 and since then taken 1,359 subway car and commuter train orders in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The stainless-steel-bodied 7000 series vehicles will be assembled at a new $US 40m production facility, which will be located at the intersection of 135th Street and Torrence Avenue in the southeast of the city. CTA says it expects the plant to generate 170 new jobs. The Chicago facility, upon completion, will build at least 168 subway trains each year. It means the China-made locomotives will be endowed with US descent.
Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, held up his thumb for the manufacturer at the ceremony, saying that CRRC can not only serve the city, but provide made-in-Chicago products to more US cities by stretching to the western and central part, and even the whole US market. "We thank CRRC for bringing the rail car manufacturing projects to Chicago," Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago said.
Unlike the 5000 series, the new trains will feature a combination of lateral and longitudinal seating to improve comfort, passenger use and capacity. This redesign was reviewed following a consultation with passengers. This is the first time that CTA have considered using market research to improve their service.
"This is the largest subway car project that a Chinese railway equipment company has received from a developed country to date. 'Made in China' rail is set to land in the United States' Chicago," according to a statement from CRRC.
The 110km/h 14.63m-long vehicles will also be equipped with LED lighting, modern passenger infromation systems, and ac traction motors. This delivery will reduce the average age of the CTA fleet to 11 years, rather than 26. It has been estimated that this modernisation will save the operator $7 million each year from reduced power consumption and lower maintenance costs.
CTA began procurement for the 7000 series contract back in 2013, but the tender didn’t attract any interest until it was relaunched in 2014.
Encouraged by Beijing, China's railway firms are aggressively bidding for contracts in overseas markets but have so far been successful mostly in developing markets. Chinese firms have also expressed interest in building high-speed rail lines in California and Nevada.