Milan - The future of the Bombardier Italia plant in Vado Ligure is at a crossroads. In fact, the fates of the production facility and the Italian subsidiary of the Canadian railway colossus depend on the much needed order by Mercitalia Rail for which the company - led by the managing director Luigi Corradi - has already submitted its bid.
The decision on which company will be awarded this new order, worth about 350 million euros, for the construction and subsequent maintenance of 110 locomotives - 40 multisystem and 70 DC - should be reached by the end of the month. The announcement is expected to be made by Italian Railways, operating in the cargo sector through their subsidiary Mercitalia: “We are confident that we have all that it takes to win this tender and we have presented an excellent proposal,” says Corradi to the Secolo XIX / the MediTelegraph standing in front of the Bombardier stand at the Expo Ferroviaria trade fair. This major industry event boasts 300 exhibitors from 19 different countries and it opened its doors yesterday in Milan.
Mr. Corradi, the Vado facility has been in dire straits for some time. Will problems be resolved if this new order is secured?
“Let’s say that it would be a definitive first step on the right path. It would enable us to ensure work for the next few years and restart our business on a solid footing. I want to be honest: this order is vital for the future of our company.”
What would happen to the 450 employees of the facility should you fail to secure the order? You are up against a strong competitor in Siemens.
“We would be in serious trouble, because at the moment we have no alternatives. Today our employees are receiving redundancy payment but the old plan expires at the end of the year, so we are now making a new deal with the unions. But the details of the new plan will largely depend on whether or not we secure the Mercitalia deal.”
Continuing with the topic of the order book, there is also a possible agreement with Hitachi. How likely is it that this deal comes through?
“I would say 50 percent. This deal is about a likely production collaboration for the construction of 350 regional trains. Hitachi won the order in a tender in which we participated as well, unfortunately, unsuccessfully.”
Now, from the production point of view, which sectors will Bombardier focus on?
“We expect significant growth in the production of rolling stock for urban networks. I am mainly referring to metros and trams that are used in large cities, often connecting the city centres with the suburbs. “
What sort of an impact will the merger between Alstom and Siemens have for the rail industry, both at Italian and international level? Is Bombardier worried?
“We should make sure we make the most of the opportunities that arise, because such operations often take time to fully materialise. We are a competing company, so we might even be presented with new kinds of business we have never explored before.”
Will the rail sector continue to grow in the coming years?
“Absolutely, yes. It is a rapidly expanding sector and forecasts world-wide show a steady growth.”