If you’ve been to the Yonkers waterfront, a very large brick building with a train-car pedestrian bridge jutting out of its side most likely caught your eye and had you wondering, “Hmm…what’s that?” That building, all 150,000 square feet of it, has been home to Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc., for the past 25 years. Even if you’ve never seen the building, you know Kawasaki if you’ve ever ridden Metro-North, the NYC Subway, or the LIRR. That’s because a majority of the more than 4,000 rail cars the company has produced are used in the New York metro area.
Depending on how many outstanding contracts the company has, some 2,000 employees work at the Yonkers location. Recent and current Kawasaki contracts include NYC flat cars; NYC Subway cars (the R188 for the 7 line); Metro-North cars (the M8, which runs on the New Haven Line); LIRR cars (the M9); and overhauling train cars that were damaged in Superstorm Sandy for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PATH cars). While most of the cars are made in the company’s Lincoln, Nebraska, facility, final assembly (fabrication of components, painting, installation, etc.), along with function testing (including break tests on the company’s quarter-mile test track outside), takes place in Yonkers.
We were eager to see the process up close, so Kawasaki pulled back the curtain and let us inside for a peek of all that goes on at its manufacturing and production facility.