Rail car maker Nippon Sharyo's Rochelle plant is no longer part of a contract to build more than a hundred passenger rail cars for Illinois and California.
In 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Caltrans, California’s transportation department, reached an agreement with Sumitomo Corporation of America for 137 double-decker rail cars -- 49 for California, 88 for Illinois. They were to be built by Nippon Sharyo at its brand new facility in Rochelle that had opened with great fanfare and the promise of hundreds of new jobs.
But the company ran into difficulties with the design of the cars, and the roll-out was halted while it tried to work them out. Nippon Sharyo blamed the issue for its layoff this year of more than 200 workers at the Rochelle plant.
Wednesday, Caltrans announced that the two states and Sumitomo had reached an amended agreement. The cars -- now a single-level design -- all will be built at a Siemens plant in California. Caltrans cited the problems experienced by Nippon Sharyo, and the resulting delays, in its news release.
In a statement to WNIJ, Nippon Sharyo acknowledged the loss of the contract and its problems, but said, “The company will continue its business operations going forward with a reduced number of employees to meet the needs of existing customers and contractual responsibilities.”
Nippon Sharyo also said it was committed to supporting affected employees and their efforts to secure new jobs.