Feature: Chicago, Chinese railcar maker show where there's a wheel, there's a way

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-19 19:41:43|Editor: zh
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Photo taken on July 17, 2018 shows an 800-meter track, where all the assembled cars will be speed-tested, along the outer edge of the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) factory area in Chicago, the United States. CRRC Sifang America won the 1.3-billion-U.S.-dollar contract in 2016 to supply 846 railcars to the Chicago Transit Authority. (Xinhua/Wang Ping)

CHICAGO, July 19 (Xinhua) -- South of downtown Chicago, a brand new building in red and deep grey stands out among the cluster of old factories in the neighborhood.

This is where China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), described as the world's largest rolling stock manufacturer, is constructing its assembly facility.

The giant assembly hall in the 20,000-square-meter building is divided into separate functional areas. There are bogies in the manufacturing area, car-lifting machines are waiting to be installed, and two separate rooms have train tracks and maintenance ditches to conduct rain and explosion-proof tests.

Outside the building, two workers are doing a final test on two cranes that have been recently installed. Along the perimeter of the factory area, there are three 800-meter tracks, where all the assembled cars will be speed-tested before they start chugging out in service.

Pan Ruoheng, an engineer with CRRC Sifang America Inc., said the facility is scheduled to go into production at the end of this year or in early 2019.

In the first stage, it will produce 14 railcars for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) every month until 2020. The car bodies will be imported from CRRC in China while all spare parts will be purchased locally in Chicago, Pan said.

CRRC Sifang America won the 1.3-billion-U.S.-dollar contract in 2016 to supply 846 railcars to CTA. These will replace nearly half of the agency's fleet, where the oldest cars have been hitting the tracks for more than 30 years. By assembling the railcars in Chicago, CRRC Sifang America is creating some 170 new jobs for local residents.

There were some worries that the facility may be affected by the Trump administration's recent moves to impose steep tariffs on Chinese goods. So last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited China to meet CRRC Sifang executives and allay the concerns.

"This project and the hundreds of jobs it will create should not fall victim to the Trump trade war," Emanuel said in a news release published on July 12.

Thanks to Chicago's strong international partnerships, this project has been moving forward and created a new economic engine for the city, he added.

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