General Electric has found a buyer for its locomotive plants in Fort Worth and Erie, Pa., and Fort Worth officials are confident the facility near Texas Motor Speedway will continue to crank out railroad and mining equipment for years to come.
GE, the conglomerate and United States industrial giant that traces its roots to Thomas Edison, has agreed to merge its railroad business with Wabtec, in an $11 billion deal first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The move is part of GE chief executive John Flannery's effort to streamline the company. Wabtec is formally known as Westinghouse Air Brakes Technologies Corp., and is known for manufacturing railroad equipment.
The move comes at a time when the news has been a mix of good and bad at the GE Fort Worth plant.
Last year, several Fort Worth officials and North Texas regional planners said they were concerned about the future of the Fort Worth plant, which opened in 2013 with the promise of creating about 700 jobs — only to lay off some of the work force after orders for locomotives slowed.
But then in December, GE officials celebrated an order of 200 locomotives from Canadian National Railway, a contract that ensured the Fort Worth plant would be busy for at least the next three years. The Fort Worth plant operates under the banner GE Manufacturing Solutions.
The GE Fort Worth plant is currently hiring, spokesman Tim Bader said.
"GE Manufacturing Solutions is well positioned. It is the primary manufacturing facility for GE Transportation’s locomotive and mining production with increasing volume," Bader said. "The site continues hiring to meet the growing demand. It also is one of our most cost-competitive sites and the team has demonstrated the ability to efficiently take on additional work such as modernizations, kitting and international locomotive production."
Less certain is the fate of the GE Transportation facility in Erie, where locomotives have been built for more than 110 years, but where production has been winding down as GE shifted much of its work to Fort Worth.
Wabtec is based in Wilmerding, Pa.