CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, a leading Chinese train car maker, announced that it has developed a prototype of the world’s first subway train made of carbon fiber. CRRC says its composite prototype is more durable and requires less energy than traditional metal cars. It is also believed to be 35 percent lighter due to its use of carbon fiber.

In recent years, CRRC has sold train and subway cars to 20 countries including the U.S., Brazil and Australia. The subway cars are expected to last at least 30 years as carbon fiber is more capable of resisting fatigue, corrosion, and UV radiation, CRRC says. Carbon fiber is also stronger and quieter compared to metal, the manufacturer notes, and offers in better thermal and sound insulation performance.

CRRC Changchun said it owns full intellectual property rights on the use of carbon fiber for making subway cars. The cars will first be used for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Orange Line. Back in October, CRRC produced the first China-made subway cars for the Orange Line as part of a 284-carriage order signed by the company with MBTA in December 2014. The deal was the first time a Chinese train car maker won a bid in the US market. The company believes the strides it has made with in-house research will result in mass production of the cars.

According to the Engineering News Record (ENR), testing of the prototype, which arrived by ship from China, will begin at the MBTA’s Wellington Yard in Medford, Mass. ENR reported CRRC is building a $95-million factory at the old Westinghouse site on Page Boulevard in East Springfield to assemble subway cars.