OHIO Castings Company has announced an agreement with ASF-Keystone and Meridian Rail Products to take over the operation of Meridian’s foundry in Cicero, near Chicago.

Meridian had planned to close the foundry, one of three in North America, at the end of June. Under the agreement announced on June 24 it is to remain in operation as Chicago Castings Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ohio Castings. Bogie sideframes and bolsters will be produced for re-marketing by ASF-Keystone to wagon builders including ACF and Greenbrier.

Ohio Castings was formed in February as an equal joint venture of ACF Industries Holding Corp and The Greenbrier Companies, who wanted to address critical supply issues in the bogie casting industry. Under the agreement for Cicero, ASF-Keystone will acquire a minority interest in Ohio Castings and will supply intellectual property and designs.

Greenbrier President & CEO William A Furman commented that ’the castings industry was facing near collapse after two years of very weak demand for new railcars. Additionally, there has been relentless buy-side pressure for lower prices from railroads and railcar leasing customers. Financial stability and competitive choice is needed in this sector; we felt that car builders had to play a leadership role. ASF-Keystone shared our concerns about the health of the industry and they bring world-class technical and quality assurance capabilities to the venture.’

H Greenbrier has announced orders totalling $120m for 1270 intermodal wagons and 300 boxcars for TTX, and 850 intermodal wagons for BNSF.