The plant opened in July 2012 and initially supplied 160 double-deck EMU cars for Chicago commuter rail operator Metra. The facility also assembled DMUs for Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit in California and Metrolinx in Toronto, as well as double-deck coaches for Virginia Rail Express.
In September 2012 Sumitomo Corporation of North America won a $US 371m contract to supply 120 double-deck inter-city coaches to California and Illinois. These coaches were due to be assembled at Rochelle for delivery between the end of 2015 and early 2018. However, in 2015 a prototype bodyshell failed a mandatory crash safety test and in November 2017 California Department of Transportation confirmed Sumitomo would instead work with Siemens to deliver the fleets.
No production has taken place at Rochelle since October 2017, although staff have remained on the payroll. The 230,000m2 site had capacity to assemble 120 double-deck coaches a year, but has built just 220 vehicles during its six-year existence.
Nippon Sharyo says it now plans to sell the plant to a third party.