chicago 'L' Train
The Chicago Transit Authority reportedly signed a $1.3 billion deal to buy hundreds of rail carriages. Pictured: The 'L' train goes by Van Buren Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois, Jan. 15, 2014. Getty Images/Robert Nickelsberg

The Chicago Transit Authority reportedly signed a $1.3 billion deal to buy hundreds of rail carriages that will be built at a plant in the city. Thursday’s deal between the city and China Railway Rolling Stock Corp (CRRC) unit, CSR Sifang America, would create around 169 jobs at an assembly plant to be setup in the city’s South Side.

CRRC will manufacture about 846 subway carriages for Chicago, replacing about half its fleet, the biggest train supply deal signed by the Chinese state-run CRRC in the U.S. The company won a contract last year to make 284 subway cars for Boston at the cost of $566 million.

CRRC called the deal a "breakthrough" for China's exports of high-end equipment. "'Made in China' trains will be landing in Chicago," it said, according to Chinese media reports. CSR Sifang America is a joint venture between the Qingdao, China-based CRRC unit, Qingdao Sifang Co. Ltd. and Chicago-based CSR America.

The new cars, called the 7000-series, will look similar to those that have been in operation since 1980s — the 5000 series manufactured by Bombardier — but will replace the aisle-facing seats with a different seating arrangement.

The railcars are set to be delivered by 2024, with the prototype slated to be released in 2019. The purchase will drop the average age of the city’s railcars from 26 years in 2011 to 13 years when the order is delivered, and will also save $7 million in maintenance costs annually.

During the tender process for the rail carriages, CRCC beat Canada’s Bombardier by $226 billion. The city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, said the deal would "go down in history," Agence France-Presse reported.