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Plasser American: a new era begins

On 3 March 2021, the groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of Plasser American’s major modernisation and expansion took place in Chesapeake, Virginia. It was the beginning of an expansion programme that is set to double the production capacity of our North American partner company by the end of 2023. It also clearly signalled trust in the positive development of North American railways as well as a willingness to enter a new era together with them. 

Rail-bound freight traffic in the United States has clearly been on the upswing for years. This is a development taking place despite harsh price wars with other traffic carriers: with the innovative, highly efficient products and services it offers, Plasser American has shaped this development to a significant extent. At the same time, the number of high-speed projects for passenger traffic is increasing. For example, extension of the Brightline route in Florida began in 2019. It will connect Miami with Orlando Airport, with service being extended to Tampa. In California, there are plans for the high-speed line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Texas Central is planning a bullet train between Houston and Dallas that would complete the journey of 240 miles (387 km) in approximately 90 minutes. The trend in urban rail is equally positive, with light-rail systems becoming more frequently used.

With railway networks being extended like this, the demand for modern track maintenance machines and the services associated with them automatically increases. Despite the COVID-19 crisis and the economic precarity associated with it, Plasser American decided to undertake the expansion of its site in Chesapeake.

Doubling capacities during ongoing operations

The contracts for the expansion programme were signed in August 2020. With Plasser American firmly rooted in the Chesapeake region, local companies featured prominently among the contractors. About half a year later, in March 2021, construction of the new office building began. It was completed in December 2021.

After the staff has moved, the old office building will be torn down. This will create space for the first part of the new manufacturing building. It is worth noting that all construction work will take place during ongoing operations. The third and final phase of the project will consist of modernising existing production and warehouse infrastructure to continue to meet the demands of a modern company. By the end of 2023, the entire production site will have expanded and will be fully renovated.

Space for approximately 100 new employees

The Chesapeake site will comprise approximately 21,000 m² once construction has been tentatively completed. Around 100 new employees will join the 350 staff members currently employed there. This expansion will double production capacity. However, that’s not the final stage in the expansion programme. Plans for future expansions are currently under way to ensure reserves for further capacities at the current site.

A milestone in the history of Plasser American

Plasser American was originally founded in Illinois in 1961. It moved to Chesapeake in 1970 to take advantage of its location close to the port. The company saw itself as part of the North American railway system from the very beginning, manufacturing machines “Made in USA” for sixty years. Plasser American CEO Thomas Blechinger highlighted this strong connection to the North American market during his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony: “This historic project is our proof of trust in the North American railroad system and confidence in the U.S. economy. I am proud of our company's development in the United States over the last six decades and here in Chesapeake for already 50 years. This milestone is our chance to show our commitment to the region and to support local talents, employees, and suppliers.”