Workers check Fuxing bullet trains in the assembly workshop of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co in Qingdao, Shandong province, in June, 2018. (WU HUAPENG / XINHUA)
Rolling stock maker China Railroad Rolling Stock Corp achieved a major milestone in its global efforts after it handed over two locally produced railcars to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) officials in Boston on Tuesday.
Stephanie Pollack, secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said: "The two new railcars are the result of the systemic investments made over the past three years and are the first to be produced in the Massachusetts area and will ultimately lead to an entire fleet replacement. Part of the T's－the nickname for the Boston region transit authority－efforts to turn itself around and improve services includes rebuilding its culture from the inside out with a central focus on its customers."
The two Orange Line cars were made at China Railroad Rolling Stock Corp's factory in Springfield, Massachusetts.
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Under a contract signed in October 2014, CRRC Massachusetts is manufacturing 404 subway cars, including 152 new Orange Line and 252 Red Line vehicles for the Boston-based MBTA. The new cars will replace ones that were built between 1979 and 1981, which have logged more than 3.2 million kilometers.
Jeff Gonneville, interim general manager of the MBTA, said: "The two railcars are the first step toward improving the reliability of our system, which our customers have been wanting for a long time."
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said the efforts would help "bring the T into the 21st century".
We are proud to deliver on time America's first transit system and CRRC's first subway cars built in the United States
Jia Bo, Chairman and President, CRRC
CRRC Chairman and President Jia Bo said: "We are proud to deliver on time America's first transit system and CRRC's first subway cars built in the United States."
The new trains have features such as levers at doors that will roll out a ramp for wheelchair users or those with baby carriages, so that they don't have to worry about the crossing the gap between the train and the platform. There are also more emergency intercoms for passengers, wider door openings, LED lighting, automatic passenger-counters and closed-circuit surveillance cameras.
The cars arrived from China to Springfield as steel shells. Workers in Massachusetts installed the wiring, motors, wheels, assemblies and interiors and conducted final tests.
CRRC's 5,777-square-meter assembly facility in Springfield is equipped with a 683-meter test track and staging and storage areas. The factory, which began operating in mid-April, has employed approximately 130 people locally.
Jia said that when the factory is at full speed in 2021, it will be assembling cars for three systems: the MBTA, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in the Philadelphia area, and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
"Our achievements prove the existence of well-nourished partnerships born from mutual cooperation and respect. We look forward to building CRRC's presence in the US using our journey here in Massachusetts as the footprint to success," Jia added.
Springfield, a city of about 154,000 people in western Massachusetts, was once a national center for railcar manufacturing. It was the home of Wason Manufacturing Co, which was one of the largest makers of railroad cars and locomotives in the US from 1845 until the Great Depression.
"We are bringing manufacturing back to Springfield," said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.
Gonneville from MBTA said he knows "the importance of good manufacturing jobs in Western Massachusetts, especially Springfield".
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