Freedman Seating Company

Report: Midwest factories among high-speed rail winners. | Crain’s Chicago

Feb 13

By Greg Hinz

February 13, 2013

Who says living in the so-called Rust Belt is all bad?

A new report says that Chicago and Midwest manufacturers are disproportionately benefiting from the billions being spent for high-speed (or at least higher-speed) passenger railroad traffic. Up to 460 companies located within a few hours of Chicago are potentially in position to snag some business.

The report — “Midwest High-Speed Rail Supply Chain” — comes from Chicago's Environmental Law and Policy Center, and while that group is as green as they come, it usually nails its facts.

In this case, according to the report, the Midwest is home to 12 major equipment makers and 460 smaller suppliers that build train sets, locomotives and the items that go into them.

An example: last year's $352 million award to Nippon Sharyo USA in Arlington Heights to build 130 bi-level passenger cars that will go on Amtrak routes to and from Chicago and in California. The rail cars are designed to go up to 110 miles an hour.

Another big equipment maker here is Electro-Motive Diesel in La Grange, one of four domestic locomotive manufacturers believed to be bidding on a roughly $400 million contract to make 33 engines that will go on the Midwest and California routes.

Each of the four manufacturers has a long list of local suppliers, the report says, such as Electro Wire in Schaumburg, which makes and services railroad cabling and electronics. Another, Chicago's Freedman Seating Co., recently announced it will add workers to handle a large order from the Chicago Transit Authority to supply seats for new el cars that will go into service in the next few years.

Read the full article here.

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