AnsaldoBreda feuds with Belgian, Dutch railways

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Stung by recent criticism of its rail products from at least two authorities (and possibly from U.S.-based rail observers as well), AnsaldoBreda is defending its product line, particularly its high speed rail equipment, suggesting any problems result from improper use.

AnsaldoBreda said statements made by Netherlands Railways (NS) and Belgian Railways (SNCB) were inflammatory. Late last month SNCB said it was ending its contract with AnasaldoBreda, saying it found the company’s V250 “Fyra” equipment “completely unreliable.” The Dutch government late Friday moved to do the same on behalf of NS.

“The reasons given by our clients are baseless and unfounded,” AnsaldoBreda Maurizio Manfellotto told European media at a press conference late last week. AnsaldoBreda said the trains had been handled poorly and exposed to poor weather conditions. AnsaldoBreda claims the trains were used in January at speeds up to 155 mph without regard to snow and ice.

“We don’t want to avoid our responsibilities but we will show that primarily they lie with our clients,” Manfellotto said. “From the start, our clients have behaved inappropriately on the managerial front.”

The company says it is ready to sue SNCB for canceling its contract. SNCB, in turn, is pondering a countersuit seeking damages. SNCB in May 2004 ordered three trainsets, part of an add-on order to NS’s 16 trainsets, to support high speed rail service between Amsterdam and Brussels. Delivery was anticipated for 2007, but was delayed until last December.

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