USA: Siemens Mobility is to build a rolling stock production plant in North Carolina to augment its long-standing Californian factory in Sacramento.

Announcing its plans on March 7, Siemens Mobility said it looked at options in 12 states before picking the site adjacent to an existing main line in Lexington. It hopes that the factory will start producing vehicles by the end of 2024, focusing on passenger coaches and push-pull trainsets — in the initial development phase, it will not assemble locomotives there.

The site will have capacity to produce around 100 vehicles per year. It will also feature a dedicated locomotive and coach overhaul workshop, which is expected to focus on supporting customers on the eastern seaboard.

The factory will cover an initial 81 ha plot with scope for future expansion, and is expected to create more than 500 jobs. Siemens says it is investing a total of $220m in the plant, supported by a Job Development Investment Grant from the state of North Carolina.

The factory is being designed to complement the Sacramento plant which has been producing rolling stock for the North American market for more than 30 years. It will be equipped with ‘some of the latest technologies’ used at Sacramento, including robotic welding, 3D printing and virtual reality welder training, and will be carbon neutral when fully operational.

It will be Siemens Mobility’s ninth US manufacturing site overall, joining those in Alpharetta, Georgia; Louisville, Kentucky; Marion, Kentucky; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New Castle, Delaware; Tualatin, Oregon; as well as two facilities in Sacramento.

‘For more than 30 years, we’ve seen the US market continue to grow as we have manufactured over 3 000 locomotives, passenger coaches and light rail vehicles in the USA in partnership with our 2 000 American suppliers, including more than 40 in North Carolina’, said Siemens Mobility CEO Michael Peter. ‘We now look forward to expanding in North Carolina and on the East Coast and to continuing delivering sustainable rail in the USA.’

‘Leading global companies like Siemens Mobility continue to choose North Carolina to build the next generation in innovative clean transportation’, said state Governor Roy Cooper. ‘Thanks to our state’s skilled workforce, and the proven education and training systems that help people maintain and build those skills, North Carolina is the number one state for manufacturing.’

Unlike California, North Carolina is a ‘right to work’ state, with employment laws which limit the role of trade unions and give companies considerable freedom to terminate employment.