MassTransitMag.com Online Exclusive

Nippon Sharyo Opens Facility in Rochelle

The city of Rochelle, Ill., has a population of about 9,000 people and when you talk to any of its government officials, they stress they are industry friendly. At the intersection of two Interstates, access to two freight rail systems and a city that’s been aggressively building the infrastructure necessary for industrial businesses, the city is poised to welcome new businesses.

On July 19, Nippon Sharyo Manufacturing LLC opened its railcar production there, with plenty of traditional Japanese ceremony, a host of government speeches and about 500 people in attendance. Nippon Sharyo Ltd., the parent company based in Japan, has been manufacturing rail vehicles for more than 100 years and is well-known for its Shinkansen bullet train.

Nippon Sharyo is investing more than $50 million and creating 300 jobs to help increase its competitiveness by moving closer to its customers and suppliers. The new 465,000 square foot manufacturing facility will enable the company to meet the Federal Railroad Administration’s “Made in America” requirements. The facility’s centralized Illinois location will also help decrease total production costs by reducing transportation costs.

At the grand opening, city of Rochelle Mayor Chet Olson said this opening means 300 new manufacturing jobs in the area, including electricians, welders and other highly skilled trades.

Governor Pat Quinn illustrated the point that Illinois is open for business by pointing out that there are 737 Japanese-owned businesses in Illinois. Also, that it’s not only Nippon Sharyo that will bring jobs, but that this factory opening will have a multiplier effect. He said more than 200 companies have been identified in the Midwest as a supplier to Nippon Sharyo.

“I am committed to growing our manufacturing industry, increasing foreign investment and bringing high-speed rail to Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “Our strong transportation network and central location make Illinois the ideal choice for global companies like Nippon Sharyo that are looking to grow.”

(View Gov. Quinn's speech HERE.)

Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development for the U.S. Economic Development Administration Matt Erskine was on hand on behalf of President Obama and Acting Commerce Secretary Blank. EDA invested more than $5 million in the area to help bring Nippon Sharyo and others to the area. Erskine said, “EDA invested $2.4 millino in the city of Rochelle to help improve the Rochelle Dual Access Railroad, which serves the Nippon Sharyo facility and other companies …” He also stated, “And vitally important, EDA awarded a $3 million grant to Rochelle in 2008, which helped to build the overpass at Steward Road that opened access to the 2,000 acre industrial area we are standing on today.”

Since its beginnings in 1982, Nippon Sharyo USA has partnered with Sumitomo Corp. of America to produce and deliver rail cars for North America. Gino Antoniello, vice president of Sumitomo, stressed that one thing that wasn’t mentioned was the 120 years of experience that is now located in Rochelle. Famously known for its Shinkansen bullet train in Japan, Nippon Sharyo has been producing rail cars and advancing its technology and Antoniello said it can’t be stressed enough what a benefit it is to bring that kind of knowledge and experience to Rochelle.

Production in Rochelle

The first contract produced in Rochelle new facility is 160 Gallery-Type Electric Multiple Unites (EMU) to Metra, which was awarded in October 2010. The first car is scheduled to be shipped on September 2012, and the delivery of the last car is scheduled for the summer of 2015.
Nippon Sharyo also has contracts with California’s Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), Metrolinx in Toronto, Canada, and The Virginia Railway Express in Alexandria, Va.

The facility is designed to accommodate production of 120 new passenger cars annually. Situated on 35 acres of land, the 465,000-square-foot facility is divided into two shops. The first is where car shells are assembled, including underframes, carbodies, side frames and roofs. In the second, cars are finished and inspected. Outside is 3,500 feet of test track where each car is run to ensure performance.

Larry Huggins, acting chairman of the Metra board of directors, and Metra Executive Director/CEO Alex Clifford spoke about the Metra order. Clifford said Metra is rotating out retired cars that have been running since the mid-70s. The $577 million contract is for 160 new Highliner cars for use on the Metra Electric line, the only Metra line that uses electric multiple-unit (EMU) cars. The line runs more than 32 miles and carries about 20,000 passengers a day.

One of the new Metra cars was on display for attendees to tour and it was noted that Nippon Sharyo will exceed the 60 percent Buy America provision on the contract and that 10 percent of the contract value will be met with Illinois vendors.

For additional information:

View photos from the event.

View Gov. Quinn's speech.

View Taiko drummers.

And more Taiko drummers.

Loading