Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by kaitoku
New Japanese plant in Rochelle promises to bring jobs to state, 160 rail cars to Metra
By Richard Wronski and Alejandra Cancino, Chicago Tribune reporters

July 20, 2012
— This tiny town west of DeKalb is nicknamed "the Hub" because it's the center of a wheel with spokes made up of two interstates and two major U.S. railroads.

But it also became a hub of state, federal and international attention Thursday with the opening of Nippon Sharyo Manufacturing LLC's $35 million passenger rail car plant.

For Illinois and Rochelle, the facility represents a multimillion-dollar investment — incentives to lure the Japanese manufacturer to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant amid the cornfields and create an anticipated 250 jobs.

For the Chicago area, the facility will produce a fleet of 160 "Highliner" rail cars for Metra Electric Line customers. The new cars will replace ones that date back decades, to the days of the old Illinois Central Railroad.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ ... 2270.story

TV report:
http://www.wrex.com/story/19069629/new- ... n-rochelle
  by Tadman
Cool article. Are the original highliners toast after the last of this new fleet arrives?

Have we got any kind of farewell trip lined up?
  by Pacific 2-3-1
"Professor" Harold Hill, I've been meaning to ask you. How's the marching band in Rochelle coming along?

It's Labor Day weekend, and we should be seeing some shiny new Metra Electric Highliners.
  by Pacific 2-3-1
With the announcement that Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo is in line (as the apparent low bidder) to build the AMTRAK bilevel order for Midwest and California corridor routes, I think Prof. Hill's credentials as a bona-fide "Music Man" need not be questioned any further.

Still, the "Wells Fargo wagon" was supposed to come down the street with delivery of the first of the Rochelle-assembled Metra Electric Highliners in September.

Band practice must still be going on.
  by Tadman
Can't be a day too soon, those Highliners are beginning to look like swiss cheese. I cut through Randolph station today on my way to lunch and they're a bit rough.
  by MisterUptempo
From the Rochelle News-Leader
http://www.rochellenews-leader.com/v2_n ... 80&page=72

First cars leaving Rochelle
Modified: Friday, Oct 5th, 2012

The first completed Metra train cars from the Nippon-Sharyo plant left Rochelle on Tuesday morning for Chicago. Nippon-Sharyo continues to fulfill the Metra contract and will be taking on more orders, creating more jobs at the facility when that work is set to begin. The Japanese railcar facility began operating in the Hub City this past summer.
  by MisterUptempo
From the Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2012

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/loca ... ?track=rss
Metra unveils new Highliner cars

Richard Wronski Tribune reporter
10:53 a.m. CST, November 14, 2012

Metra on Wednesday unveiled the first four of its new “Highliner” cars that will go into service later this week on the Electric District Line.

They are the first of 160 cars being built at a new Nippon Sharyo Manufacturing LLC plant in Rochelle, Ill. The cars are replacing ones that date back decades, to the pre-Metra days of the former Illinois Central Railroad.

The new cars feature modern amenities like power outlets for personal electronic devices, upgraded seating and new flush toilets.

Officials dedicated the first car to the late Metra director Elonzo “Lonnie” Hill, who served on the commuter rail agency’s board from 2003 until his death in 2009.

The Electric District Line runs 170 trains a day carrying about 36,000 riders between Milennium Station, Blue Island, South Chicago and University Park.

The new cars will cost $577 million and are being purchased through a $31 billion state bond program.

Eventually, all 145 1970s-era Metra Electric cars will be replaced with the new equipment.

The first 80 car “shells” are being constructed in Japan and shipped to Rochelle for completion. The remaining 80 will be entirely manufactured at the new plant.

Nippon Sharyo had previously outsourced the final assembly of its passenger cars to Super Steel in Milwaukee.

The $35 million Nippon Sharyo plant was dedicated in July.

Officials said the Rochelle facility will give the company greater control over its workforce and will position the company to surpass Buy America requirements, which allows companies to tap into federal incentives through states, municipalities or transit authorities.

Under the requirements, companies have to produce 60 percent of the total value of the rail cars in the U.S. The final assembly must be made by American workers with American-produced steel, iron and manufactured components.

To lure Nippon Sharyo, the state offered an incentives package worth more than $4.7 million in training funds, grants, corporate income tax credits and other incentives.

Nippon Sharyo pledged to create at least 250 jobs in the state and retain 15 workers from its previous office in Arlington Heights.

[email protected]

Twitter @richwronski

Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune
No photos available at this time
  by byte
Article says the new cars have outlets for personal electronics. I know some of the diesel car rehabs are getting them, but if this is true then it means MED riders will be getting a nice amenity which most diesel-line riders won't have (probably the the first time in history that's ever happened too...).
  by Tadman
We always talk about what ME riders don't have in comparison to the diesel lines, but what they do have is incredibly high frequency of trains. As a commuter, that would be most important to me. Unless it's an odd off-peak time, you can basically walk downstairs and grab any train, like an L train.

Some day take a look at how much thicker ME timetables are than even the busy diesel lines.
  by MattW
I have to say, those Highliners are the best-looking modern trains in this country. It's too bad they don't make a low-floor/platform version, and a 25kV version. I seriously would not mind if every commuter rail system operated those.
  by byte
The Highliners (new and old) are easily the best riding Metra equipment being run in these parts. Smooth braking, fast acceleration, on great track. I'm sure that low-platform-only and 25kV versions could be whipped up if you sent N-S a check for the engineering costs.

However, I would argue that Metra cars' interior furnishings are pretty spartan compared to what other operators provide, and you'd need to do some re-thinking in that area to make it work in other cities. They've only started adding outlets to trains (literally within the past year and a half) and reading lights installed as a "what-if" experiment on cars built in the early 90s no longer work due to intentional deferred maintenance - i.e., we don't want these so let's not touch them. Ex-Metra cars which get used in other cities don't usually get a warm reception from riders unless passenger trains are a totally new thing there and people don't have existing rolling stock to compare it to.
  by Pacific 2-3-1

The company website has an announcement about construction of the new carbody shell-making building at Rochelle.

Currently, Rochelle only does assembly.

This will enable Sumitomo/Nippon-Sharyo to keep up with Kawasaki's plant in Lincoln, NE, not to mention the CAF-USA and Bombardier plants in New York State (Elmira Heights and Plattsburgh, respectively) which can also fabricate shells.

  by R36 Combine Coach
That is significant news. For the first time since the last Superliners rolled out of Pullman in 1981, stainless passenger cars will be fabricated and assembled in Illinois.

I wonder will Alstom add stainless carbody fabrication at Hornell soon, to compete with the others?
  by Tadman
I thought the Superliners were made at the Standard plant over in Hammond, am I mistaken?
  by Backshophoss
Pullman-Standard built the Superliner I's, not sure which builder did the SuperlinerII's and Surfliners,believe Nippon-Shayou/Sumitomo,
after the Midwest/California order is done,would be the best choise for Amtrak's 3rd gen Superliner order.