Chinese Company Coveting Contract to Replace MBTA Subway Cars

03/22/2012 - Cambridge, MA - The MBTA Red Line turns 100 years old on March 23, 2012. This is the Kendall Square outbound platform - intended to mirror an archival handout image. Topic: 23redline. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff.
An MBTA Red Line subway car is pictured.
GLOBE

The seemingly omnipresent phrase “Made in China” could soon be loosely associated with the MBTA if a company in the east Asian republic has its way.

Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. is one of six companies based outside the United States that are bidding for a $1.5 billion contract to replace subway cars for the Orange and Red Lines, reported Boston Business Journal. According to the company’s website, Changchun is the largest maker of passenger rail cars in the world.

If the Chinese manufacturer is awarded the contract, BBJ reports that Changchun hopes the opportunity will result in additional contracts in America, including work on the Knowledge Corridor in Springfield.

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Past Orange and Red Line subway cars have been made by companies based in Chicago and Canada, according to the MBTA.

Changchun has already found a 40-acre location in East Springfield for a manufacturing facility, said Bobby Doyle, a South Weymouth resident who is also a consultant with Changchun, according to the BBJ.

Doyle spoke about the project Thursday at a conference in Springfield and said the factory will cost $50 million to build. Changchun expects to hire up to 300 workers if they win the MBTA contract.

Springfield has a rich railroad history, as the city was home to Wason Manufacturing, which was once the largest builder of rail cars in the country, reported Mass Live.

The state can mandate that all manufacturing take place in Massachusetts because it isn’t using federal funds to commission a company to build the rail cars, according to Boston Business Journal.

Last year, Governor Deval Patrick vowed before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to use a portion of the funds from the state’s then-new transportation finance law to buy new MBTA cars for both the Orange and Red lines.

The MBTA is reportedly expected to make a decision on the contract by November.