Springfield’s “manufacturing pioneers” embark on three months of training at CRRC in China

The group includes Springfield Technical Community College graduates

China-based CRRC is in the process of building a $95 million railway car factory at the site of the former Westinghouse plant on Page Boulevard in Springfield.

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WWLP) – Thirty local sheet metal workers and electricians are blazing a new trail for the economic future of Springfield. 22News was at a sendoff ceremony at Bradley International Airport Friday morning as the workers were set to embark on three months of training at CRRC’s Changchun facility in northeast China.

“They’re really pioneers in manufacturing in one way,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. He thanked the new CRRC hires for their dedication and willingness to learn the skills needed to propel Springfield forward in manufacturing and economic success.

“Very excited. Extremely nervous,” said Tammie Vancini. She is an IBEW Local 7 union member who will also be the only woman in this training program. When Tammie returns, she will be the electrical assembler at CRRC’s Springfield facility. She added, “It’s an incredible opportunity for not just Springfield, but Western Mass as well, and I am from Springfield so feeling the economic impact is quite large.”

CRRC is the largest rail car manufacturer in the world. Its North American headquarters in Springfield will open in the fall of 2017 and create millions of dollars in revenue. Among the set contracts so far is one to build and repair the MBTA orange line rail cars.

CRRC Massachusetts Vice President Jia Bo told 22News through an interpreter that there will be a cultural and language barrier for workers when they arrive in Changchun. He said, “The first month will be training like in a training center and then after that, the two months, they will be assigned to different facilities to practice at hand.”

The greater Springfield area won’t just feel the economic impact of the facility alone, but also the spinoff it will create. Materials companies will be needed to supply the facility. More people working there will mean more businesses benefiting and more homes bought in the area.

“The first wave could mean 60 to 70 jobs and from what I’m told, when it’s all done and said, could add an additional 300,” said John Scavotto, business agent of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 63.

There was one setback for workers on Friday: Inclement weather across the country pushed back their flight to Tuesday.