ARI in joint venture to make passenger trains

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -- The past year has been tough on American Railcar Industries in Paragould and Marmaduke, with layoffs and low demand for railcars in America.

But now a light may be glimmering in the tunnel as ari has entered into a joint venture with US Railcar to build DMU's or diesel multiple units passenger trains.

ARI primarily builds tank and hopper cars so what is a DMU?

"It's a self propelled train set. Each car is individually powered so it doesn't need locomotives to pull it." says  CEO and President of US Railcar Mike Pracht. Pracht says they haven't been built on a large scale in America since the late 50's. They are however very popular in Europe where electrification is not common.

ARI currently builds tank cars in Marmaduke and hopper cars at the Paragould plant.

Although it's been a tough year Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill says he never doubted ARI's future.

"They've got good leadership in place. They are a strong company and they have a good history behind them."

Pracht says joining with ARI is a good move for them.

"Really is a nice fit. We've got the tooling and the jigs and were gonna send them to Arkansas. And they have the skill set the know how the physical plant to be able to do this."

Gaskill, "They hire people from several counties. I mean they draw from counties outside Greene county."

Pracht says they will still need the skills to build the rail car shells plus assembly workers to finish the cars.

"People to install seats, flooring, air conditioners, lighting and there will certainly be an opportunity to increase the labor base by adding assembly labor."

Gaskill says he has been told that ARI is calling people back so things could be on an upswing.

"Hopefully this new venture they are going to get into will be a big success for them and continue to grow in our community."

Pracht says there is no definite time when manufacturing could begin.

The company is actively pursuing orders and hopefully will start to build later this year.

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