Nippon Sharyo has won a $352m contract from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to build 130 passenger railcars.
The contract is a joint procurement between the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Caltrans, which marks the final step in a first-of-its-kind multi-state procurement that will also see new railcars supplied to Michigan and Missouri.
Delivery of the railcars is scheduled to start from 2015; Caltrans will take delivery of 42 railcars and the Midwest coalition will use the remaining 88, which will operate out of Amtrak’s Chicago hub.
Nippon Sharyo will build the railcars at its manufacturing plant in Rochelle, Illinois, which opened in July 2012.
Funding for the purchase of the next-generation equipment is provided by the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the contract has met all requirements to ensure that the final assembly is prepared by US workers, with American steel, iron and manufactured components.
Designed to run at speeds of up to 125mph, the new railcars will also be capable of dealing with extreme weather conditions.
The railcars will have Wi-Fi and a bi-level design to increase the capacity of Chicago Hub trains by as much as 90 people per coach compared to the existing trains.
Nippon Sharyo’s $50m plant in Rochelle has the capacity to produce 120 new passenger cars a year.
The company said that the first models rolled out of the factory will be used in Illinois, California, Virginia and Ontario.
Nippon signed a $558m contract with Metra in 2010 to supply 160 new Highliner cars over the next five years to operate on the Metra Electric Line in Chicago.