Dutch pull the plug on Italian high-speed train

7th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

The Dutch government on Friday pulled the plug on its problem-ridden high speed Fyra trains made by Italian manufacturer AnsaldoBreda, a week after Belgian rail authorities announced a similar move potentially costing hundreds of millions of euros.

Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher announced the decision at a press conference after the cabinet's weekly meeting, after a plea from the state-owned Dutch rail company NS to ditch the trains.

"The NS has decided drop the Fyra trains. We came to a similar conclusion," Asscher told reporters, adding "they (NS) have good reasons to say that the trains won't suffice."

The NS on Monday said it no longer wanted to continue with the V250, using the technical name for AnsaldoBreda's train, after investigations uncovered a slew of technical problems.

The hitches led to long delays and NS in mid-January decided to stop the Fyra's regular scheduled run between Amsterdam and Brussels, barely a month after it was launched with much fanfare on December 9.

"An investigation into the technical aspects have confirmed that the V250 was not sufficiently reliable," the NS said.

A week ago, Belgian rail authorities said they were ending their contract with AnsaldoBreda after their own investigation showed a raft of serious defects, including software and braking problems, loosening doors, pieces of metal strip peeling off the roof, damage to hydraulic and electrical cables and rust after only a few kilometres on the tracks.

Asscher said the Dutch government would now look at how to extricate itself from the fiasco while "trying to minimise the damage, looking at legal aspects and finding an alternative solution for the traveller."

Fyra's delivery -- supposed to be a Dutch showcase project on par with France's TGV or Germany's ICE high-speed trains -- has been plagued by delays since AnsaldoBreda won to the supply contract in 2004.

Dutch rail authorities bought 16 trains, while Belgium bought three, each train with a price tag of 20 million euros ($26 million).

Meanwhile in Italy, AnsaldoBreda this week reacted angrily to the Dutch and Belgian rail authorities' decisions.

Company director Maurizia Manfellotto called accusations "baseless and unfounded" at a press conference in Naples on Thursday afternoon, accusing the two rail providers of pushing the trains too far in poor weather conditions, leading to major damage.


© 2013 AFP

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