CA: Siemens Mobility gets contracts and looks to hire more workers at Sacramento railcar facility

Dec. 28, 2023
Siemens Mobility Inc. plans to add more than 100 employees in 2024 to its existing workforce of around 2,500 at its Sacramento railcar manufacturing facility.

Siemens Mobility Inc. plans to add more than 100 employees in 2024 to its existing workforce of around 2,500 at its Sacramento railcar manufacturing facility.

The reason: a continuing boom in new transit car orders.

“We have quite a lot of work at the moment which is very good and we are hiring people in multiple disciplines,” said Michael Cahill, Siemens Mobility president of rolling stock North America.

The openings include industrial engineers, welders, assemblers, logistics people, painters, testing technicians and purchasing agents, he said.

The Sacramento facility in Florin Park has been in a hiring boom. In the past year, it added 299 workers.

Siemens Mobility is a subsidiary of Siemens AG, a German manufacturing conglomerate based in Munich.

Cahill said the latest contract for Siemens is for 24 new cars for the Metro Transit light rail system in St. Louis. He said the order includes the option to purchase additional cars.

Cahill didn’t want to discuss financial terms because he said the contract was in the process of being finalized.

But a Nov. 29 news release from Metro Transit said that the board of its parent agency, Bi-State Development, had approved the $390.4 million contract with Siemens to deliver the light rail vehicles and provide project management, support, testing, spare parts, tools, and diagnostic equipment.

The light rail line runs in Missouri and Illinois.

Cahill said another recent order is from the Sacramento Regional Transit District. In October, it signed a $195 million contract with Siemens for eight additional light rail cars.

He said the order builds upon the initial purchase of 20 light rail vehicles in 2020, followed by the additional order of eight more cars in 2021.

“Most of the people who work here are from Sacramento,” Cahill said. “It’s great to build cars for other cities but it makes us proud to build cars that are in your backyard.”

In July of this year, Cahill said Siemens signed a $195 million contract for 24 new cars for the Greater Cleveland Regional Rapid Transit System’s Red Line subway. Cahill said the contract includes the option for 36 additional cars for the blue and green light rail lines.

Another Brightline contract

Siemens is building 30 new passenger cars for Brightline, the privately run Florida railroad that expanded service in September and goes from Miami to Orlando.

The rail car manufacturer had already built 40 passenger cars for Brightline and 21 locomotives.

Cahill said the new order will allow the railroad to expand the number of passenger cars in each train from four to seven.

Cahill said Brightline opted for 20 new passenger cars around a year ago but several months ago increased the order to 30 cars.

Siemens officials did not disclose the value of the new Brightline deal.

“We’ve been remarkably lucky and we’ve won quite a few new projects which is additive to what we have going on,” Cahill said.

He said there are around 20 separate projects for different rail systems occurring simultaneously at the 64-acre facility, all at various stages of construction.

Cahill said the facility is currently manufacturing cars for transit systems in San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, San Diego, Seattle and Calgary in Alberta.

Building Canadian trains

He said a long-standing project at the Sacramento facility is building trainsets for Via Railroad Canada on its 732-mile Quebec City to Windsor, Ontario corridor.

He said Via signed a contract with Siemens in 2018 for 32 trains. Each trainset consists of five passenger cars and a locomotive.

So far, Cahill said that Siemens has delivered 11 of the trainsets.

He said manufacturing should go through mid-2025.

Via, in a news release in 2018, said it was paying Siemens $989 million in Canadian dollars, which is roughly equivalent to $740 million in U.S dollars.

Cahill said it takes approximately 60 to 80 days to build a rail car, but the planning and design phase can take more than a year before manufacturing can begin.

He said the Sacramento facility has the capacity to build 200 to 250 railcars a year.

Siemens’ biggest contract is with Amtrak, the federally chartered corporation that runs almost all inter-city passenger rail service in the U.S.

The $3.4 billion contract is the largest in the history of Siemens Mobility North America.

Siemens is building 580 passenger cars and 88 locomotives for the railroad through 2030. The first cars are expected to be put into service by Amtrak in 2024.

What the future will bring

Siemens Mobility has built high-speed trains at its European facilities. Cahill said he wants the Sacramento facility to be a force in high-speed rail too.

Siemens is bidding to build trainsets for Brightline West, the planned rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas. It would be the first truly high-speed service in North America, with speeds up to 200 mph.

Brightline in Florida trains travel at 125 mph on part of the route, which is considered the beginning of the high-speed range.

Siemens is not confining its rail car construction in North America to the Sacramento facility.

The company broke ground in August on a second U.S. railcar manufacturing facility in Lexington, North Carolina.

Cahill said the facility, which is scheduled to open at the end of 2024, will make it easier to ship train cars to East Coast customers. He said it would also operate as a repair facility.

Siemens plans to employ 500 people at the North Carolina facility by 2028.

“But that’s not to say we’ll be taking work away from Sacramento,” Cahill said. “Quite the opposite, Sacramento is busy. This is about expanding capabilities.”

Cahill said the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in late 2021, gave Siemens the confidence that there would be a strong market for new railcars and the rationale to build a second facility.

The act provided $41.5 billion for Amtrak and $39 billion to modernize public transit.

“The investment by the federal government was of course a factor in our expansion,” Cahill said. “We see the demand picking up.”

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