Finally, some good news for the Elmira area. Elmira has been on a slide for quite a while, even before this recession hit. I hope this is a good omen for the city. (From the Ithaca Journal)
Elmira Heights rail car maker to add 575 jobs
Manufacturer CAF USA lands $298M Amtrak contract
By G. Jeffrey Aaron •firstname.lastname@example.org • July 23, 2010, 7:45 pm
Elmira Heights rail car maker CAF USA has landed a $298 million contract to build 130 single-level rail cars for Amtrak, as part of Amtrak's long-term fleet renewal plan.
The five-year deal, which will mean the creation of 575 jobs at the Elmira Heights location, calls for CAF to perform all manufacturing and final assembly at the local facility. CAF will manufacture the stainless steel car shells and handle the final assembly of the cars, with the first scheduled to roll off the assembly line in October 2012.
The 130 passenger rail cars include 25 sleeping cars, 25 diners, 55 baggage cars and 25 baggage/dormitory cars that will be primarily used on interstate trains. They will replace and supplement Amtrak's existing fleet. In addition, Amtrak will begin to retire some of its oldest cars still in service, many of which date back to the 1940s and '50s.
The first year of the contract will be paid for with $29.8 million from Amtrak's current revenues, which the company said are running above estimates. Amtrak will look to finance subsequent years of the deal with other sources, such as loans or Congressional appropriations.
CAF USA is a subsidiary of the Spanish railway equipment maker CAF S.A., with a century of experience in designing and manufacturing all types of rail vehicles. But the forte of the Elmira Heights plant was making subway cars, which was a point of concern for Amtrak, said George Miner, president of Southern Tier Economic Growth.
"Amtrak uses passenger trains and there was some concern about CAF USA doing subway trains," said Miner. "But CAF has a lot of experience making passenger rail cars in Spain, and that's what we told Amtrak."
Chemung County and STEG had been working with CAF on securing the Amtrak deal for about a year, said Miner. In addition to the Elmira Heights manufacturer, Alstom Transportation Inc. in Hornell, Kawasaki in Yonkers, and Bombardier in Plattsburgh, were all vying for the contract. But because of a requirement that all of the contract-related work happen in the United States, Alstom and CAF rose to the top.
The Amtrak contract was one of several that the company, STEG and Chemung County were trying to land, said Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli.
"We knew there was a possibility that this would come through and it's great news for the community because it's a very large contract," Santulli said. "The plant is owned by CAF, but they have been going through some slow periods. They have a lot of feelers out there and we've been providing information on their ability to deliver, should they get the contracts. It's a very large plant there with tremendous potential."
CAF USA had recently secured a $118 million contract with the city of Houston's transit system for 29 new cars. But the work has been delayed until January, said Miner, when the local company should begin recalling its laid off workers.
"They should be calling about 125 to 150 people back to work for the Houston contract and then more to work on the Amtrak contract," Miner said. "But the Amtrak deal is not a two- to four-year deal. It's starting off with $298 million and will keep growing and growing as long as they can perform. It they do well, it (could) grow bigger and bigger."
Company officials couldn't be reached Friday afternoon to discuss when they would begin ramping up hiring for the Amtrak contract.
CAF USA came to Elmira Heights in 2001 when it paid about $7 million for the former Adtranz factory, making it the fourth rail car maker since 1986 to occupy the facility. CAF's first U.S. contract was a $339 million deal with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for 192 rail cars. But since then, it has survived locally on a series of relatively small contracts and recently has been operating with a skeleton crew.
"This is a very exciting and pivotal moment in the history of CAF USA," company Vice President Virginia Verdeja said in a prepared statement. "As we move to consolidate our presence in the U.S., we view this contract as merely the first in what we hope will be many opportunities to partner with Amtrak. We look forward to combining our maximum effort and expertise with the leadership and vision that the current administration has shown where passenger rail service is concerned in the U.S."
Here's the link: http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...o+add+575+jobs