Directors at American Railcar Industries Inc. have approved plans to restart their Ohio Castings operation in Alliance, OH, citing an increase in orders for new railcars. The steel foundry produces castings for freight-car side frames, bolsters, couplers, and yokes for the North American market. According to local reports, Ohio Castings and the United Steelworkers local chapter have agreed to a new five-year labor agreement, which includes compensation for the six months that remained on the previous contract when the plant was idled in 2009. The former contract would have expired September 1. In June 2009 the plant was idled as a consequence of "the major downturn in railcar manufacturing ... the global economy ... and the resultant lower demand for the plant's products," according to a plant manager at that time. Now, ARI president and CEO James Cowan stated, "the decision to restart production was based primarily on strengthening demand for new railcars.” Shipments of new castings will begin in the third quarter of this year. Cowan said the company plans to “ramp up” railcar production in the second half of 2011. Ohio Castings is owned by three joint-venture partners that acquired the former Alliance Steel Foundries in 2003, including ARI (formerly ACF Industries Holding Corp.), ASF-Keystone Inc., and The Greenbrier Companies, all of which are involved in manufacturing, owning, and/or leasing of rolling stock. Ohio Castings supplies the partner companies with castings “at a favorable price,” according to ARI.