Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which manages road and rail public transport in the Greater Philadelphia area, has cancelled a contract worth nearly $200m with CRRC for 45 new double-decker passenger coaches. 

China Railway Rolling Stock Corp said it had begun production of the railcars at its Massachusetts factory and would seek to continue to work with SEPTA on the contract. CRRC MA is the US subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned rolling stock firm. 

Meanwhile, SEPTA explained it had already paid $50m on the project, and was looking to “recoup” the funds. 

“SEPTA has terminated its contract with CRRC MA for cause. The Authority is assessing its options for recouping funds that have been spent on the project,” according to a statement from the transport manager. 

The contract was the first for two-level passenger cars won by CRRC in the US, but delays and manufacturing defects were alleged by SEPTA. 

The most serious of these were reportedly brake test failures and emergency exit windows that were not built to local safety standards. 

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There was no mention of such complaints in CRRC’s statement on the contract cancellation.

“Having worked closely with SEPTA’s project team beginning with railcar design through initial vehicle production, CRRC MA remains committed to completing the project and continues to seek further discussions to resolve SEPTA’s concerns,” the statement read. 

According to SEPTA’s proposed 2025 budget, the new rolling stock is desperately needed for its network. 

“SEPTA continues to operate one of the oldest rail fleets in the country, and for the first time, this budget funds at least a partial replacement of each aging fleet,” it explained. 

Bombardier (now Alstom) and Hyundai Rotem lost out to CRRC in the original bidding process for the 45 cars.