The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has awarded a contract to CSR Sifang America JV for the supply of the new 7000 series rail cars.

CSR submitted the lowest bid of $1.3bn for the supply of 846 railcars to support CTA’s efforts to modernise the transit system.

Under the contract, CTA will initially purchase a base order of 400 cars, with options to purchase the remainder in the future. CSR also committed to invest $40m in the construction of a new rail car assembly facility in Chicago, a move that will create nearly 170 jobs.

The cars to be procured by CTA will be assembled in CSR’s proposed plant.

CTA president Dorval R Carter, Jr said: "Providing modern trains and buses is a critical part of having a world-class transit system.

"Providing modern trains and buses is a critical part of having a world-class transit system."

"This rail car purchase, the largest in CTA history, will give CTA one of the newest fleets in the US and provide our customers with state-of-the-art trains providing comfortable, reliable rides."

CTA said the prototype models are expected to be completed in 2019. The cars will begin to operate in 2020 following testing.

The new rails cars, with a combination of forward-facing and aisle-facing seats, will maximise passenger flow and capacity. These cars were designed based on riders’ preferences, related to seating and design, obtained by the CTA.

The car design will resemble the 5000 series, CTA’s newest rail cars, with stainless steel bodies, LED lighting and signage, and AC power propulsion for a smoother ride. The cars will replace the oldest cars on the CTA system.

On completion of delivery of the new rail cars, CTA will have its youngest rail fleet in decades, reducing the average age of CTA rail cars from 26 years in 2011 to 13 years when the 7000 series are delivered.

The rail cars will allow CTA to save more than $7m in maintenance costs and power consumption every year.

Image: CTA is modernising the transit system with its new 7000 series of rail cars. Photo: courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority.