Skip To Content
October 18, 2022

‘Transformative’ new factory on track to open in 2024, employ 460 people

Credit: Herald-Mail, Mike Lewis

Gov. Larry Hogan and other political and business leaders Tuesday toured the Hitachi Rail factory that’s being built in Washington County.

“The job creation potential and associated economic benefits are an absolute game-changer for this region and for the entire state,” the Republican governor said in remarks before the tour. “This project is further proof that the Hagerstown region is a major logistical center for transportation with unparalleled connections to the northeastern United States.”

Initial announcement:New $70M factory expected to bring ‘up to 460’ jobs to Washington County

Hitachi also unveiled the final design of the $70 million factory, which will employ about 460 people and help sustain a total of 1,300 jobs in the region.

The 307,000-square-foot facility is being build at the west end of Halfway Boulevard, which the county plans to extend to Greencastle Pike (Md. 63). The 41-acre site also will include an 800-foot test track.

Hogan called it a “transformative project.”

Construction is slated to be finished in the first quarter of 2024.

The factory’s first order will be building 256 new 8000-series railcars for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro). The contract, announced in March, includes options for building up to 800 cars.

Joseph Pozza, president of Hitachi Rail in America, said the factory will be able to produce up to 20 cars per month. It also will be able to produce a wide range of train cars.

He said the factory will be Hitachi Rail’s hub for its production in North America.

“We’re here to stay,” Pozza said.

Andrew Barr, Group CEO for Hitachi Rail, said the plant is important for him.

“When I took this role, I said I planned to grow our American business and, in particular, establish a strong base in the USA,” he told the crowd. “So this plant today is the realization of that goal. And I’m really looking forward to featuring it very strongly in our plans for the future.”

What will the Hitachi factory make?

When the plant is running, shells of train cars, made in Italy, will be hauled by truck to the site, Pozza said. They will go in one end of the building, where they will be finished and outfitted with modern amenities.

The 8000-series cars for the Metro, for example, will have on-board WiFi, digital screens to relay information to passengers, heated floors, high-tech ventilation systems and high-definition security cameras, among other features. The all-electric vehicles, with 130 seats per pair of cars, will replace cars that have been in service since the early 1980s.

Cars can be rolled out of the factory and onto the test track, then brought back inside.

Finished cars will emerge from the factory and be hauled by flatbed tractor-trailer rigs to their destinations, Pozza said.

Construction is on schedule, according to officials of Ryan Companies. The firm, based in Minneapolis, is leading the project.

Among other things, “construction” means installing 248 concrete wall panels, each of which weighs an average of 35,000 pounds, according to Ryan officials.

Why did they put the Hitachi factory here?

Several factors made the site attractive, Pozza said.

One is the ability to accommodate the test track.

“Eight hundred yards is a pretty significant track,” he said.

The location provides Hitachi with ready access to markets in the northeastern United States and metro areas, he said.

Pozza said the company also was attracted by the region’s workforce.

What are they saying?

Some officials who spoke Tuesday also issued prepared remarks ahead of the official groundbreaking ceremony.

Randy Clarke, Metro’s general manager and CEO: “We are proud to have Metro’s new 8000-series railcars built in the National Capital Area. Creating local jobs and economic benefit for the region was essential to Metro and will return Metro’s investment to families, businesses and the region we serve.”

Kyle Schott, vice president of real estate development at Ryan: “Ryan Companies is excited to have the opportunity to support Hitachi Rail in its efforts to improve passenger and freight rail transportation in the United States and North America. It is a privilege to lead the development of this state-of-the-art facility and with construction on schedule.”

U.S. Rep. David Trone, D-6th: “This new factory in Hagerstown will deliver over 1,000 good-paying jobs to the community and strengthen our public transportation options across the entire Metro system. After looking at Hitachi’s final plans for the factory today, it’s clear that this effort has an incredible return on investment for Marylanders.

Who is Hitachi Rail?

Hitachi Rail, part of the wider Hitachi Group that is based in Japan, has presences in 38 countries and employs more than 12,000 people.

Among other things, the company is known for high-speed “bullet trains.”

The company also has operations in service and maintenance, signaling and automated turnkey systems.