The factory that is to build new passenger cars for use on Amtrak routes in the Midwest and California has laid off 100 workers, throwing the future of the order into further doubt.
Nippon Sharyo had already laid off workers from its plant in Rochelle, Illinois, in 2015 and 2016.
The cars are ticketed to replace the Horizon fleet cars that are now typical on Midwest corridor trains.
Nippon Sharyo has attributed the layoffs to continuing production and mechanical issues. Chief among those is the 2015 failure of a prototype car to pass a stress test.
Funding for the passenger cars will expire on Sept. 30, 2017, and revert back to the U.S. treasury if it is not spent by that date.
“The Midwest states know that there are delays relevant to Sumitomo and Nippon Sharyo being able to deliver equipment,” Tim Hoeffner, head of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s rail office, told Trains magazine. “The states don’t know what the new delivery schedule is yet and are waiting for Nippon Sharyo, California (which is leading the railcar procurement) and the Federal Railroad Administration to come back to us with a proposed schedule and a path forward.”