Bartholomew and Jackson counties have ample reason to be excited that Cummins Inc. is close to a deal to provide engines for high-speed passenger trains.
The Columbus-based engine and power systems maker is working on a contract with Siemens AG to produce 32 of its 4,000 horsepower QSK95 diesel engines, which will be used for trains in California, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Washington.
The massive 95-liter engine, known as the Hedgehog, is the catalyst for the company’s $219 million expansion of the Seymour Engine Plant. It employed 536 people as of Dec. 13, but expects 290 new jobs, mostly higher-paying, for engineers and office workers once full production of the Hedgehog starts by summer 2015.
A contract with Siemens could help kick production into high gear and really make the expansion investment pay off. Siemens received a $226 million contract to build the locomotives in the five states that are developing high-speed, intercity passenger routes with Amtrak, the federal passenger train service. As the winning bidder, Siemens has the right to supply up to 225 additional locomotives, if state or federal funding is available. That would keep the plant quite busy.
While Jackson County residents should be thrilled with the prospect of hundreds more high-paying jobs, residents of Bartholomew County — where Cummins in based — should be encouraged that its largest employer seems to be having success in a new market for its products. Cummins has reached new heights financially by diversifying its markets and product lines, moving away from reliance on the heavy-duty diesel truck market that had the company on the brink of disaster in the early 2000s.
The healthier Cummins is, the more Bartholomew and Jackson counties benefit.