Transit networks on board with CRRC railcars

2017-11-14 13:51:17
Summary:CRRC has been on the express track lately when it comes to its business in the United States.
CRRC has been on the express track lately when it comes to its business in the United States.

Train-car maker CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles Co, a subsidiary of state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, is racking up some big American contracts and looking for more.

CRRC recently was featured in an address to a business group by the Miami-Dade mayor, who is interested in the company's "trackless trains".

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is pushing the Florida metro area to give up expanding its Metrorail in favor of high-tech buses made by CRRC, The Miami Herald reported.

Gimenez made Metrorail a major part of his re-election campaign last year, but on Nov 1, he decided to state a case for CRRC's trackless trains to run on dedicated lanes north and south of Miami.

"I believe we are on the cusp of unbelievable transformation, driven by new technology that will place us ahead of other cities because we are in the midst of creating a transportation infrastructure with those new technologies in mind," Gimenez told the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

He then showed a video on high-tech buses as a cheaper alternative to rail, the Herald reported. "It's a solution we can implement now, not one that will take decades to complete."

The trackless trains are electric buses with interlocking cars that can hold about 300 passengers and are designed for platform-level access and group boarding.

Gimenez said he plans to travel to China to visit CRRC. For the mayor's chamber presentation, the Dade County communications office used its own narration over footage provided by CRRC, which rolled out the trackless train in the summer, the Herald reported.

CRRC says the vehicles will be guided by autonomous technology, allowing them to "follow" painted lines.

Next month, CRRC will deliver the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston Metro) subway system its first Chinese-made cars. CRRC also has built a massive assembly plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the cars eventually will be assembled. For now, they are still made in China.

The Boston cars due in December will be the first that CRRC exports to the US made entirely using Chinese intellectual property.

"It is an example of China's rising high-end manufacturing," CRRC said on its WeChat account. "The export of the 'Made in China' subway train to the US takes place after China experienced great changes in the past few years. It boosts our confidence. We are practically exporting 'Made in China' technology."

In 2015, construction began on CRRC's $95 million, 204,000-square-foot plant in Springfield. The first cars from that plant, which is nearly completed, will enter production in February 2018.

"These cars can't get here fast enough," Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said after touring the facility on Oct 12. "We have a lot of work to do on our public transit systems. That includes our tracks, switches, station and yes, it includes these cars."

CRRC will manufacture 152 railcars for the city's Orange Line and 132 cars for the Red Line to replace cars now in service, which were built for the 120-year-old system by Hawker Siddeley Canada between 1979 and 1981.

The stainless-steel subway trains can travel up to 63 mph (102 km) and have a service life of 30 years.

By 2019, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the mass transit network for the Philadelphia metro area, is expected to take delivery from CRRC of 45 multilevel cars.

The award allows SEPTA "to advance a major service-improvement initiative at a cost that fits within our budget constraints," SEPTA Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said.

Earlier this year, Changchun Railway Vehicles won a $647 million contract to eventually build 282 carriages for Los Angeles' subway system.

These cars will run through Hollywood and provide direct service to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics," the company said.

In 2016, the Chicago Transit Authority accepted CRRC's bid to build cars for its rail network in a $1.3 billion deal. In March, CRRC Sifang America broke ground in Chicago for a $100 million plant to build the cars, creating local jobs.

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