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Springfield Railcar Assembly Facility Design-Build

Successful delivery of fast-track project bolsters $95 million global investment in U.S. economy.
  • Aerial view of the new railcar assembly facility along Interstate 291 in Springfield, Massachusetts - Gannett Fleming.

    The state-of-the-art facility is a highly visible sign of manufacturing’s return to the region.

  • A pile driver compacts inadequate soil, leaving numerous circular indentions - Gannett Fleming.

    Rapid impact compaction of existing nonengineered fill allowed construction to begin on schedule.

  • Oblique view of railcar assembly facility showing China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation logo - Gannett Fleming.

    The plant is China’s first venture into the U.S. high-end railway transportation equipment industry.

  • Interior of facility showing large traverse table used during railcar assembly - Gannett Fleming.

    An open floor plan facilitates efficient use of the massive equipment needed to assemble railcars.

Client
Plaza Construction LLC
Partner(s)
VHB, Robert W. Hall Consulting Engineers

Location
Springfield, Massachusetts

Our Role
Design, Planning, Construction Administration, Commissioning

Data
Size
204,000 sq. feet
Construction Cost
$62 million
Completed
2017
Type
New Construction
Duration
2 years
Outcomes
  • Facility allows on-time delivery of railcars for MBTA
  • Economic anchor for local community creates 150 new permanent jobs
  • Rehabilitation of a highly visible abandoned manufacturing site
  • Hub of North American operations for international railcar manufacturer.

When the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) awarded the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) a $566 million contract to build 284 railcars, the Beijing-based corporation envisioned a modern facility to assemble the subway cars. CRRC selected an abandoned 40-acre manufacturing site in Springfield, Massachusetts, to build the 204,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building. A project of national significance, the facility is CRRC’s North American operations hub and represents China’s first venture into the high-end railway transportation equipment industry in the U.S. The project created 150 permanent new jobs, jumpstarting economic development on a blighted brownfield site.

Serving as the lead engineer and architect of record, Gannett Fleming provided planning, design, permitting, bid assistance, construction administration, and commissioning services for the design-build project, which represents a $95 million global investment in the U.S. economy. The firm worked hand-in-hand with design builder Plaza Construction LLC to deliver eight construction work packages during a seven-month design schedule without missing a deadline. Creative solutions to on-site challenges allowed the project to be completed on time so that CRRC could begin operations as planned. 

What We Did

The Springfield Railcar Facility project transformed an abandoned brownfield along Interstate 291 into the home of a modern manufacturing facility. Rapid impact compaction, an innovative in-situ ground improvement technique, increased the weight-bearing capacity of inadequate soil over a 322,000-square-foot area at the site, preventing construction delay and enabling the on-time delivery of railcars to MBTA. The facility’s open floor plan features one fixed and six portable platforms that offer access to all sides of a railcar during assembly, improving worker efficiency. An overhead crane system positions railcars as they are assembled. To enhance safety, the team designed and programmed two cranes to work in tandem, preventing collisions and allowing one operator to control both cranes.

Recognizing the facility’s role as CRRC’s North American hub, the team ensured the shop’s traction power system accommodates a variety of voltages for cars from different transit authorities. An oblique and curved outdoor test track was expertly designed to fit the site’s irregular boundaries. To make certain that construction proceeded smoothly, the team held monthly meetings with CRRC officials. With its U.S. base established, CRRC is pursuing railcar contracts from transit agencies across the country.

Key Features

  • Open floor plan with room for massive assembly equipment and overhead crane system
  • Dual-rated DC equipment provides traction power at a variety of voltages to accommodate multiple railcar clients
  • 2,240-foot-long outdoor track is uniquely curved to fit site constraints.

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • Walls made of 4-inch-thick insulated metal panels have insulating R-value approximately 56 percent higher than required by code, creating a thermally efficient building
  • LED lighting system that automatically adjusts to natural light helped earn a $280,000 energy rebate
  • Double-glazed argon-filled windows and fiberglass sandwich panel skylights maximize thermal resistance
  • On-site stormwater treatment prevents overloads on the Springfield municipal system
  • Low volatile organic compound paints and finishes protect workers from harmful emissions.

Similar Projects: Corporate/Industrial, Project Delivery: Design-Build, Engineering, Engineering: Facilities, Corporate/Industrial: Manufacturing, Project Delivery, Facilities: Structural