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Deal on new rail cars embroils SEPTA in U.S. suspicions of China manufacturer

October 07, 2019 / Jason Laughlin

An order for new Regional Rail cars is putting SEPTA in the middle of the U.S. trade war with China. In 2017, SEPTA awarded a contract to CRRC MA, which has a factory in Springfield, to build 45 multilevel cars to replace those dating to the Nixon era. SEPTA is paying $138 million, about $34 million less than the nearest bidder sought. The first cars are scheduled to arrive in 2020. CRRC MA is a branch of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp., a company owned by the Chinese government. The company’s practice of bidding significantly below competitors caught U.S. legislators’ eyes, and in September, the House passed a military spending bill that makes it significantly harder for CRRC to do business in the United States. Lawmakers say the company poses an economic and security risk to U.S. interests and shouldn’t be building critical parts of U.S. infrastructure. The bill, which still has to pass the Senate, wouldn’t be retroactive, so SEPTA will get its cars regardle...