Stadler braves the euro crisis

21st Jun 2012
Stadler braves the euro crisis

For Stadler Rail, too, the last year has been dominated by the falling euro and the EU debt crisis. Thanks to high levels of orders received in 2008–2010, turnover in 2011 increased to CHF 1.39 billion, with the workforce standing at 4,500 employees, up by 1,000 on last year. Orders received in 2011 amounted to CHF 1.3 billion and were below the average of the past few years. Four completely newly developed vehicle series have been in successful operation since mid-December 2011: the double-decker KISS for SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) for use in the Zurich commuter railway system, the intercity KISS for Westbahn in Austria and the Tango trams in Basel and Geneva.

Successful start for the KISS and Tango fleets

The first vehicles in the first series of 50 KISS trains for SBB went into regular operation in mid-December. They have been operating on the most important line of the Zurich commuter railway system, the S12 line Winterthur–Zurich–Brugg, since February 2012, sometimes in double traction as 12-carriage trains. Twelve of these SBB KISS have now been delivered, with a further four handed over to SBB as a first option order for regional express services.

The whole fleet of seven KISS trains for Westbahn Management GmbH in Austria went into service on the Vienna–Linz–Salzburg route, right in line with the new timetable in mid-December 2011. These are the first intercity double-deckers from Stadler. They can achieve a maximum speed of 200 km/h. All vehicles are in operation every day, with the overnight service breaks used for maintenance in Linz by Stadler Rail, as commissioned by Westbahn.

On 11 December, BLT Baselland Transport AG introduced 7.5-minute services on Line 10 (Ettingen–Basel SBB–Dornach) and Line 17 (Ettingen–Schifflände–Wiesenplatz). This meant they required the first four Tangos from the series of 15 vehicles. Four Tangos had already been supplied to BLT in 2008 as preliminary series vehicles, so BLT now has 19 composite vehicles.

In line with its new timetable, the Geneva transport company TPG brought the new Line 14 (Meyrin–Onex–Bernex) into service, for which it needed the first 6 of the 32 Tango trams it had ordered to be delivered in good time. These vehicles have been successfully working in regular operation since.


Weakness of the euro hits Stadler hard

Stadler Rail Group’s turnover amounted to CHF 1.39 billion, around CHF 300 million above last year’s figure. Turnover for 2012 is forecast at around CHF 2.25 billion. Growth in 2011 and 2012 is mainly down to the large number of orders received in 2008 (CHF 2.6 billion) and 2010 (CHF 2.9 billion). Last year, Stadler received orders to the value of around CHF 1.3 billion, roughly equivalent to the 2009 figure but well below the record years of 2008 and 2010.

In order to secure increased capacities and job numbers in the medium term, Stadler needs to fight even harder for orders, given the strength of the Swiss frank. Two thirds of the current workforce, which comprises 4,500 employees, work in Switzerland. However, around two thirds of production from the Swiss Division go to the export market, where currency shifts have made it more difficult to win tender processes.

Because of the strength of the Swiss frank, Stadler is also at a severe disadvantage against competition from the Eurozone when it comes to invitations to tender in Switzerland. This proved the case in the 2011 invitation to tender for Basel-based transport company BVB: Stadler lost out because of the euro exchange rate, as the winning competitor had production sites in Eastern Germany and Austria and could submit a quote at a much lower rate. This decision is a clear signal that Swiss industry faces tough times ahead given the current exchange rates, not only in the export market but also in the Swiss domestic market.

Successful sales in 2011

Despite the difficult currency situation, Stadler could still report some successful sales. These include:

˗ Regionalverkehr Bern-Solothurn (RBS) is buying a further eight low-floored multiple-unit express trains (NExT).

˗ Ferrovie Appulo Lucane (FAL) has placed an order with Stadler for nine narrow-gauge trains. FAL operates a network to the south-west of Bari.

˗ Südtiroler Landesverwaltung ordered another eight 6-carriage FLIRTs and an additional eight intermediate cars for the existing 4-carriage FLIRTs which are already in service.

˗ Junakalusto Oy is exercising an option for nine FLIRTs for the Helsinki commuter railway system.

˗ Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn has ordered 7 additional KOMET multiple-unit trains, 4 articulated trains and 11 low-floored intermediate cars.

Successful sales in Germany

Stadler Pankow has successfully achieved a number of important sales over the last year. The following orders merit special mention:

˗ First order from Great Britain: six Variobahn trams for Tramtrack Croydon, a subsidiary of Transport for London

˗ 35 FLIRTs for Veolia (for use in the Rosenheim e-network in Bavaria)

˗ 28 FLIRTs for Deutsche Bahn (for use on various routes in Rheinland-Pfalz)

˗ Framework contract with Deutsche Bahn for 400 vehicles by 2018

These successes follow a string of good sales results for the German Division in the previous years. Based on the good prospects, Stadler Pankow opened two additional production sites in 2011: the Berlin-Reinickendorf site produces and paints vehicle body shells, while a second final assembly works has been opened in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen.

New markets

Given the dwindling prospects in the Eurozone, establishing new markets is becoming increasingly important. Stadler sees great potential in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Orders received earlier from Belarus and Estonia are already being processed. The first order from Russia was received in mid-2011. Russian group Transmashholding (TMH) ordered 100 four-axle diesel drive components, with two delivered in advance as prototypes. The drive components are to be fitted into 50 trains produced by TMH subsidiary Metrovagonmash for the Russian railway company RZD. The customer anticipates that part of the added value is generated at local level. This requirement should be taken into account when trying to attract further orders from the Russia/Belarus/Kazakhstan economic and customs union. Stadler is expecting an order for an additional 19 trains for Belarus in the third quarter of 2012, and is therefore looking at setting up a production site in Minsk.

Reinforcement of Board of Directors and expansion of management team

Wojciech Kostrzewa, President and CEO of the Polish ITI Group, was elected as an additional member of the Board of Directors at today’s general assembly. The number of members has thus been increased from eight to nine.

Stadler Rail Group has seen strong growth over the past few years. The management structure has been reinforced in order to face the challenges of the future. Peter Spuhler handed over the reins of the Swiss Division to long-standing CEO of Stadler Bussnang, Markus Bernsteiner, but will remain Chairman of the Board of Directors and Group CEO of Stadler Rail. The new CEO of Stadler Bussnang is Dr Thomas Ahlburg, former Managing Director of the Bombardier works in Görlitz, who has proven his management expertise in the railway vehicle sector. As of 1 January 2012, Markus Sauerbruch, the former Head of the Equipment Business Unit at Sulzer Metco, took over as Managing Director of Stadler Altenrhein.

As of November, the new CEO of Stadler Szolnok is Jens Hofmann, who previously held various positions at Siemens. Among other things, he oversaw the production of undercarriages and carriage bodies in Krefeld. Nicolas Rambert has been in charge of Stadler Algier since the beginning of the year. He previously worked at Contraves Space and Alcan, and had headed a production department at Schweiter Technologies since 2008.

Future prospects

At the moment, it is difficult to predict what impact the euro crisis will have. It cannot yet be guaranteed that the Swiss sites will be working at full capacity as of the end of 2013. Some time ago, Stadler Rail took measures to increase productivity and reduced costs, and developed new vehicle designs. This means Stadler can fight currency fluctuations using innovation and staying ahead in terms of technology. There are two major invitations to tender in Switzerland this year; SBB needs high-speed trains to travel through the new Gotthard base tunnel to Italy, and Zurich Public Transport (VBZ) is buying new trams. Having failed to win the last major order from SBB, these two invitations to tender are very important for Stadler.



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