Business & Real Estate

Sacramento rail manufacturer scores major contract

Sacramento-based Siemens Rail Systems announced on Friday it has won a major contract to build 175 light-rail cars for San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency.

At $650 million, the order is the largest the manufacturer has won in the United States, and follows a large contract Siemens signed last week to provide high-speed locomotives and rail cars for Florida.

“These new Siemens vehicles will make our city’s public transportation system more reliable, easier to maintain, and ready to meet the demands of a growing city,” San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee said in a press statement issued by Siemens. “In addition, these new vehicles will be built right here in California, bringing jobs to our regional workforce.”

Siemens officials said the new orders help secure the company’s position as a light-rail manufacturing leader and are part of the company’s efforts to expand the type of products it assembles at its south Sacramento facility.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Cho said the company expects some new hires at its south Sacramento plant as a result of the new contracts, but said it is uncertain how many. Some employees will be switched to work on the new contracts as existing contract orders are completed.

The company opened the French Road plant nearly 25 years ago after it won a contract to build light-rail cars for the Sacramento Regional Transit system, one of the first light-rail lines in the country. It recently revamped and expanded the plant to position it to compete for contracts to build heavy-rail and high-speed systems as well. Siemens made its first foray into electric locomotives last year when it rolled out the first of 70 such vehicles planned for Amtrak’s East Coast passenger lines.

Congressional representatives Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, called Friday’s announcement a win for Sacramento manufacturing and for cleaner transportation options.

“This is a great example of a public-private partnership that builds and improves our infrastructure while also creating new jobs in our region, and we need to continue to make investing in infrastructure a priority to spur our local economic growth,” Bera said.

San Francisco officials say they are in the midst of modernizing their transit fleet. SF Muni chief Ed Reiskin said the Siemens cars are expected to last 10 times longer than the agency’s current vehicles before significant maintenance is required.

Siemens noted that about 80 percent of the electricity used by the Sacramento plant for manufacturing is generated by a 2-megawatt photovoltaic installation on the building’s roof.

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