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
 
Nippon Sharyo will be building a new plant at Rochelle to fulfill an order for 160 railcars for METRA. Ill DOT will also spend $5 million to build rail access to the plant from the nearby BNSF line. This plant may also be a future manufacturing facility for HSR trainsets, should any orders come Nippon Sharyo's way.

http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/S ... ecNum=8991
ROCHELLE – October 20, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $12 million state business investment package to Nippon Sharyo U.S.A., Inc., which will support $35 million in private investment, to establish a rail car manufacturing facility in Rochelle. The project will result in the creation of 250 new jobs and retention of 15 jobs, and will support Illinois’ growing rail industry.

“Our robust supply chain, well-trained workforce, and status as America’s transportation hub make Illinois an ideal place for Nippon Sharyo to locate its U.S. headquarters and a new manufacturing facility,” said Governor Quinn. “This is a great example of how the state’s strategic investments are putting more people to work and helping Illinois companies expand.”

In Japan, Nippon Sharyo boasts the largest market share of high-speed rail rolling stock. This August, METRA awarded Nippon Sharyo the contract to build its next generation of rail cars. METRA will purchase 160 new rail cars over the next five years with $585 million provided through the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program.
  by Tadman
 
I've always really respected this company - seems to build very high quality railcars and rarely gets entangled in problems like those that plague most government railcar orders. The only real trouble I've heard of were the electrical gremlins on the NICTD 300s. It's interesting that NIppon Sharyo did not choose any of the former Pullman plants in the Chicago area. As far as I know, the big building at 108th street is still vacant after Ryerson left, and the 103rd street building is owned by the city and unused since MK quit building gallery cars there a decade+ ago.
  by eolesen
 
I don't suppose the proximity of Rochelle to I-39, both the UP & BNSF transcon lines, or the huge intermodal yard there has anything to do with selecting farm country over an old Pullman site... ;)
  by kaitoku
 
Coverage from the local newspaper:

http://www.rrstar.com/businessrockford/ ... n-official

selected quotes:
“I hope to be here to see those cars coming off the line, not only Metra cars but high-speed rail,” (Gov. Pat) Quinn said.
Eric Pitcher, BNSF’s regional manager/economic development, said “this project opens up about 1,200 acres that could be developed on the BNSF, so this is a significant project. We’re very active here
.”
  by justalurker66
 
Press Release from Nippon Sharyo USA: http://www.nipponsharyousa.com/tp101020.htm
After investigating more than 50 candidate sites in the Midwest, Rochelle, Illinois was selected as an ideal location for new facility for several reasons. The City and the State offered an attractive incentive and support plans, which included more than ten million dollars of direct investment to improve the infrastructure for the new facility. Rochelle’s proximity to two mainline railroads in the “Chicago Hub” railroad network, and the friendly community environment were also factors in choosing this location.

Nippon Sharyo’s aggregate investment is expected to be around $35 million. This investment will create approximately 250 new jobs by end of 2013. The facility will be designed to accommodate an annual production of 120 new passenger cars of all types. The initial market will be for suburban commuter type vehicles and inter-city passenger cars, which will fully comply with various safety regulations of Federal Railroad Administration for operation on the general railway system.
Illustrations and more details on that press release page.
Map locating the site.

Looks like a good deal for Illinois ... not so good for Super Steel, but good for Illinois and Rochelle.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
 
There are a lot of good business reasons not to operate a plant anywhere in Chicago or Cook County. Which is unfortunate because I would like to see the Pullman facilities put to some heavy manufacturing use. But mainly I suspect that the decision not to use the Pullman plant, as well as the move from Super Steel, is due to the way "incentive" schemes from the Illinois and Rochelle governments worked out for them. I have a strong feeling that this could be a throw away facility.
  by byte
 
If they start actually rolling the corrugted stainless steel there, then it's definitely NOT a throwaway facility, because currently no one does that in the US and car shells are imported ... but if it's operated in the same manner that Super Steel (build from kits shipped from overseas) then it may only stay open until the next Metra order is finished.
  by justalurker66
 
byte wrote:If they start actually rolling the corrugted stainless steel there, then it's definitely NOT a throwaway facility, because currently no one does that in the US and car shells are imported ... but if it's operated in the same manner that Super Steel (build from kits shipped from overseas) then it may only stay open until the next Metra order is finished.
I agree and hope that the steel is rolled in Rochelle. I have not seen any confirmation either way (although the press release calls the new plant a "production plant" not an "assembly plant").
Image

If this is just an assembly plant I can see it moving on based on the next incentives offered by the next state making a car order (after Metra).
  by eolesen
 
Someone on IlliniRail says they're putting in an electrified test oval (sort of illustrated above).

Personally, I'm glad to see someone competing with Bombardier & Alstom. Colorado Rail Car couldn't. Maybe these guys can.
  by superbad
 
I can think of a million reasons not run a business in chicago or cook county too!!!!if the city could figure it out, they would boot and clamp metra trains as they sit in the station!!
remeber VRE uses the nippon-sharyo bi-levels too, so if they order more (I know this is reffering to the electrics), but I would guess any new car orders from VRE would be built at this facility..

and Nippon and Bombardier seem to the most problem-free cars around..
I suspect Metrolink is having issues with the rotem cars they now have, since none of them seem to be in service and there is little news on them..
  by Tadman
 
No question about why they located the plant outside greater Chicago. If you've observed heavy industry the way I have over 30 years, you'll notice that it's almost completely left Chicago. I'm just glad they're doing some more assembly here rather than Japan. It shows that Nippon Sharyo really believes in rail building here - otherwise they would've left final assembly up to the usual suspects of assemblers. It's not like there is an undercapacity in railcars here.

What really amazes me about the company? They don't bid on a project unless they know it's a solid project. Notice how they've not gotten involved in any debacle in 30 years of US railcar sales? How many other railcar builders can say that? Even if it was technically the government or host railroad's fault for rushing production, Nippon Sharyo seems to be adept at steering away from troublesome projects overall.

Finally, was a cause behind the 300-series electrical gremlins ever found? It's the largest problem I've ever heard of with their products, and I suspect it was teething issues. Metra's almost identical 1200's didn't have much problems.
  by superbad
 
this IS the plant where they will manufacture the DMU's for sonoma-marin county commuter rail.. apparently the order was placed today.
  by justalurker66
 
superbad wrote:this IS the plant where they will manufacture the DMU's for sonoma-marin county commuter rail.. apparently the order was placed today.
Yes, it is. The recommendation to the board for the "SMART" train was made 10/25 and is available here:
http://www.sonomamarintrain.org/userfil ... -10-25.pdf
I am pleased to concur with the procurement team’s recommendation and hereby recommend that the Board approve award of a contract to Sumitomo for $56,853,739 to provide 18 DMU vehicles (9 trains) along with systems support, spare parts and special tools.
On page 8 of that document (paragraph 2.2) it states:
The SCOA proposal is provided in detail later in this report. SCOA, a Japanese team comprised of a financial partner (Sumitomo) and a car builder (Nippon Sharyo) with a final assembly plant in Illinois, proposed a specification-compliant DMU concept with one engine per vehicle. The center car is a powered DMU with a flat nose.
Even more specifically on page 24 it states:
Vehicle construction will take place in both Japan and the US. Construction of the car shells and initial assembly will take place at Nippon Sharyo’s manufacturing plant in Toyokawa in south central Japan. Each car will then be transported to Nippon Sharyo’s new manufacturing plant in Rochelle, Illinois, for final assembly.
  by kaitoku
 
What really amazes me about the company? They don't bid on a project unless they know it's a solid project. Notice how they've not gotten involved in any debacle in 30 years of US railcar sales? How many other railcar builders can say that?
Thinking out aloud here, but Japanese railcar builders tend to have conservative/cautious corporate cultures, and are concerned about delivering on their promises. This may be a cultural influence. It also helps that railcar builders are smaller firms, than say, auto manufacturers, who by their sheer size and/or hubris may lose sight of their base principles (see Toyota, who btw is HQ'd in the same region [central Japan-Nagoya/Tokai] as Nippon Sharyo). Up to now the Japanese firms were content to be rather low profile builders to American transit agencies for commuter rail stock or transit stock/LRV, but with the shrinking Japanese domestic market and a pax rail friendly US administration, are starting to be more aggressive in winning higher profile orders for mainline passenger stock or HSR trainsets, orders that would otherwise have gone to the European "Big Three" or perhaps the Johnny-come-latelies from other Asian countries. Of course, with these bigger orders, you are exposing yourself to more risk, and ironically, any failures or bugs will be publicized more than usual by the press for the very reason that these firms have a reputation for reliability (see Toyota again).